As Tira, Mae West was the home girl mantrap who knew how to get down for the sake of her upward mobility. She was like a walking amusement park.
She really fascinates me in I'm No Angel with Cary Grant.
As for the gay male aspect, notice when she calls the lawyer played by Gregory Ratoff (who went on to play Max Fabian in All About Eve). The art decoration in his room is the visual clue. He's part of Tira's inner circle. She needs his help. He's a friend. He's not an outsider put in that "Oooh! Look! He's a pansy!" view the way Busby Berkeley did in 1930s movies.
Queen Latifah got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the musical comedy Chicago. A couple of years ago, I rented I'm No Angel again and thought a Mae West screenplay like that could be reworked, updated and made into a zesty vehicle for Queen Latifah. Or it could be remade and set in the 1930s to make Latifah looks glamorous in costumes designed for its original period. Queen Latifah in a remake of a Mae West classic could only be better than Latifah's alleged comedies Taxi with Jimmy Fallon and The Dilemma starring Vince Vaughn.
Things I like about West's character in her Paramount years are that minorities are never invisible to her. Look at the sincere gratitude and respect she gives the Chinese man who helps her in the open of Klondike Annie (1936). Her San Francisco singer character gives her maid money to reunite and a start a new life with the man she loves.
If another woman was down and out in a Mae West comedy, Mae's character helped lift that sister up. She never did another dame dirt -- not unless that dame did her dirt first. Mae had a unique look and a unique delivery. She embraced diversity. All that is evident in I'm No Angel.
Movie star, sex symbol and screenwriter. And a full-figured blonde in her 40s. She gave the censors a hissy fit with the material she wrote and she broke some new ground that needs to be re-appreciated again today. Before the very calculated Madonna music videos of the 1980s, there was the warm wit of sexy Mae West in the 1930s. And her one-liners hold up today -- especially those she wrote and delivered in I'm No Angel: "I've been things and seen places," "Beulah, peel me a grape" and "It's not the men in your life that counts, it's the life in your men."
Mae West took the taboo subject of sex and made us laugh at it. She was a woman who loved diamonds and men. And when it came to men, she was always the smarter sex. She played the game better than they did. You'll see what I mean in the I'm No Angel courtroom scene.
Mae was still writing -- and still working her 1930s Paramount Pictures image for that sexually outrageous 1970 movie from 20th Century Fox.
That's Hollywood. Have a very happy 4th of July holiday weekend.