Famous for her bawdy double entendres, Mae West made a name for herself in vaudeville and on the legitimate stage in New York before moving to Hollywood to become a comedian, actress and writer.
One of the most controversial stars of her day, Mae West encountered many problems including censorship.
In 1932, Mae West was offered a motion picture contract by Paramount. She signed and went to Hollywood to appear in «Night After Night».At first, she did not like her small role, but was appeased when she was allowed to rewrite her scenes. In West's first scene, a hat check girl exclaimed, «Goodness, what lovely diamonds!» West replied, «Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.»
She brought «Diamond Lil», her very successful Broadway play – now Lady Lou –, to the screen in «She Done Him Wrong» in 1933 («Uma Loura Para Três»), personally selecting Cary Grant for the male lead as Captain Cummings, a role that greatly influenced his career. The movie was a success and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
«New York singer and nightclub owner Lady Lou has more men friends than you can imagine. Unfortunately one of them is a vicious criminal who's escaped and is on the way to see "his" girl, not realising she hasn't exactly been faithful in his absence. Help is at hand in the form of young Captain Cummings, a local temperance league leader though.»
The frank sexuality and seamy settings of her films aroused the wrath of moralists. On July 1st, 1934, the censorship of the Production Code began to be seriously and meticulously enforced and her scripts began to be heavily edited. Her answer was to increase the number of double entendres in her films, expecting the censors to delete the obvious lines and overlook the subtle ones. She made sex amusing – to those who could only see sex as either evil lust or sacred matrimonial act – this was indeed subversive!
West's next movie was «Belle of the Nineties» (1934). It was originally titled «It Ain't No Sin», but the title was changed due to the censor's objection. Other tentative working titles included «That St. Louis Woman», «Belle of St. Louis» and «Belle of New Orleans». The same could be said for her following film, «Goin' To Town» (1935), which was originally titled «How Am I Doin'?»
In 1936, she adapted for the screen Lawrence Riley's Broadway hit «Personal Appearance». The film, directed by Henry Hathaway, was one of the rare times when Mae West starred in a role not originally conceived for her.
I'd like to point out a few features of her acting expertise that have always impressed me tremendously: her facial expressions and hair, her mystifying voice and studied elocution, her great body, and her astonishing presence...
Long live great Mae!
RIC & Wikipedia