on 6 November 2007
Mae West: screen legend, international pin-up, actress, writer, comedienne, sexual icon - the biography should write itself, shouldn't it? Unfortunately, Simon Louvish wrote it...
Mae West obviously lived an interesting life; breaking out from vaudeville and burlesque into Broadway Theatre and then into cinema. Becoming a bonafide diva and then slowly, inexorably believing her own hype and going bananas.
Louvish takes this set of ingredients and turns it into literary porridge. His cataloging of the scripting revisions are positively turgid and just kill the narrative. It reads like a stenographers portrayal of a juicy court case and leeches all lurid fascination out of the subject matter. He seems to, as well, miss out swathes of her life that I would find interesting: how was is she became a theatre pioneer? why didn't she make the leap to talkies earlier? Her later life when she became a self-parody - surely a book in itself?
The best bit of the book is the last fifth (it's a whopping 420 pages - too long, in my opinion, by 100 pages or so)telling the story of her life after her heyday - but it's just skimmed, which is a shame, There was something sad about her reclusion and I wanted more of a glimpse into that life and that of her faithful companion. Also her utterly, utterly bizarre 'comeback' pictures are just skimmed over and that is a shame. Finally, the amount of references made to Mae West's own books makes me wonder if I shouldn't have just read them instead.
Mae West obviously lived a interesting life, one of the original Hollywood pin-ups. This review is not of her, but of Louvish who writes like a college lecturer with too much time on his hands. I would read another biography of her rather than this as this is just dull.
on 24 November 2006
Simon Louvish's biography of Mae West, "It Ain't No Sin" is a workmanlike examination of a remarkable show woman's career that spanned the entire gamut of 20 Century showbusiness from vaudeville, the Broadway stage, talkies, sound recordings, Las Vegas, and eventually television.
Placing the accomplishments of this extraordinary performing artist in chronological order and making sence of her impact at the time and beyond represents a yoman's task, which for the most past, Mr. Louvish is well prepared.
It is disappointing that the much ballyhooed entree to "her previously unaccessed papers" offers so little insight to the workings of her mind. However Mr. Louvish does point out that Mae West spent a lot of time pushing the pen well into the wee hours of the night polishing and perfecting her craft , giving her adoring public the impression that she was pushing against something mightier than the proverbial pen.
Mae West endured well past her initial Hollywood prime and continued to thrill new audiences well into the 1950's, Sixties and Seventies. Unfortunately, this aspect of her career and life are skipped over lightly. Mae West flowered during the Free Love Generation of the 1960's and became a cultural icon that outgrew her initial camp second coming.
Her contribution to Gay Liberation and the legions of fans gay, hetrosexual and try anything who befriended and encouraged her in the later stages of her career are sadly overlooked. Perhaps this is because Mr. Louvish did not have the time available to dig beyond the surface in regards to this remarkable period of her public and private persona.
I have had the remarkable good luck to become acquainted with many of Mae West's "gay mafia" and been privy to many of the remarkable adventures they shared with her. Through the stories her confidantes related during the last two decades of her life, one comes to understand the truly personable and lovely individual Mae West really was. It is my hope that my manuscript, "In Search Of Mae West," researched over a twenty year span, will eventually find a publisher, and give Mae West's adoring public another aspect of this truly unique individual, who was like a diamond in her ability to focus light on the facet of her life she wanted seen at any given time.
In the meantime, Mr. Louvish's tome is as good a read on Mae West currently available, and is well worth having in your personal library.
on 26 October 2013
Well researched, detailed account of film "icon" of a previous generation,
who managed her talents and career , astutely...
Blond she appeared, but she was far from dumb !