Sunday, August 15, 2010
In 1978, when Sextette was made, Mae West was an iconic figure like Bogart and Monroe. The passage of years has dimmed her status somewhat, but I tried to view Sextette in the context of the year it was made. I'm almost sure that I saw this movie in the theater, but the passage of years has also dimmed my memory. I'm sure we were thrilled to see such an icon back up on the big screen in 1978, especially since Sextette threw a couple of bones to the younger generation by including Ringo Starr, Alice Cooper, and Keith Moon among the cast.
Unfortunately, viewing Sextette today all I could see was a creepy looking old woman (I apologize to the memory of Mae West) delivering Mae West's one-liners. While I'm not technically knowledgeable enough to know exactly how the movie was shot, I do know that the make-up used on Mae West caused light to bounce off her face making it appear blurry and washed out at times. I'm not talking about close-up shots where they could put Vaseline on the lens, I'm talking about scenes with other actors where you can clearly see their faces. Instead of achieving the desired effect of making Mae's face look younger, it actually achieved the opposite effect. Another thing that added to Mae looking older was her costuming (credited to Edith Head), it looked like Mae was always wearing something straight out of one of her 1930s movies.
The basic plot of Sextette is that Mae and Timothy Dalton have just wed and they are on their honeymoon. Unfortunately, their plans for the bedroom keep getting interrupted. Mae is kept busy trying to make sure World Peace happens (I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP!), while Timothy Dalton spends most of his time trying to convince people he's not gay. A side note: while Dalton had yet to play James Bond (he had been offered the part several times already) in Sextette it turns out that he's a spy.
As the movie rolls along we get different dance/song numbers and different guest stars showing up throughout the movie. Keith Moon probably has the best guest starring role as a wardrobe dresser, he's flounces about while Mae tries on different dresses delivering one of her famous one-liners with each one. Ringo Starr shows up later in the movie as a movie director, an ex-husband of Mae's, trying to shoot a rehearsal love scene. I thought I had missed Alice Cooper, but he doesn't make his appearance until almost the end of the movie where he sings a disco-like number: "Never Never". Two other music performers of note have brief parts: Van McCoy (who also wrote and sings the theme song "Marlo") appears as one of the peace delegates and Keith Allison of Paul Revere and The Raiders has a very brief scene as a room service waiter, cleverly named Keith. One last music connection that should be noted is Dom De Luise who sings The Beatles "Honey Pie" next to a cardboard cutout (that looks almost as lifelike) of Mae West.