Mae West: In New York City
• • This new series — — "Breadlines and Champagne" — — is focused on Depression movies, pre-Code classics, screwball comedies, and the socially conscious plots that worked their way to the silver screen. There will be Prohibition Era treats such as the Tuesday special which is being billed as "Bank Nites."
• • Programmed by Bruce Goldstein, and featuring all 35mm prints, this is the best news since bathtub gin was perfected.
• • The opening night stars Mae West and Cary Grant, in a screenplay written by the Brooklyn bombshell and inspired by her awe of Bostock's lions in Coney Island, which she enjoyed as a child. Those trips to Dreamland with her father created Mae's desire to be a lion tamer — — and in "I'm No Angel" Tira will get her chance to enter the big cage and eyeball the king of beasts.
• • Here is what some critics have said about "I'm No Angel."
• • • • "Mae West was the sensation of 1933. A total delight to watch." — Andrew Bergman
• • • • "Going to help redistribute a nice chunk of the nation's coin. Mae West is today the biggest conversation-provoker, free space grabber and all-around box office bet in the country." — Variety (1933)
• • • • "Arguably West's best film, certainly one of her funniest." — Pauline Kael
• • "There weren't that many films that dealt directly with the Depression," says Bruce Goldstein, repertory director at Manhattan's Film Forum. "But you got a feeling of the desperation — — the lower-class rooms, the spartan look of things. There's an almost palpable atmosphere."
• • "Breadlines and Champagne," Goldstein's upcoming retrospective at the Forum, offers New Yorkers the thrill of enjoying 50 Depression-era movies in new prints. Friday's opening night showcases Mae West's "I'm No Angel," and a 1933 admission price of 35 cents.
• • Why weren't there more of these classics? "Cycles come and go," says Goldstein. "I think people were tired of those Depression-era movies, and the studios wanted to make more escapist entertainment. And after the Production Code came in (in 1934) everything got sanitized — — there were certain kinds of characters and certain kinds of stories you just couldn't do anymore."
• • For the complete schedule, stop by Film Forum.
• • Every Tuesday movie-goers will enjoy the revival of an old-time tradition of giveaways so prepare for some good old-fashion fun.
• • "Breadlines and Champagne" runs from Friday February 6th through March 5 at the Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10014. Info is available by phoning 212-727-8110 — — or by visiting www.filmforum.org online.
Courting Mae West
• • Photo: Mae West • • 1933 • •