Sextette (1978)

 “How many honeymoons have you had?”

sextetteMae West was in her mid 80s when she made Sextette–a musical based on one of her many plays. Mae West–one of the greatest sex symbols in the history of cinema–plays famous actress Marlo Manners. When the film begins Marlo is in London to marry Lord Barrington (Timothy Dalton) who will be her sixth husband. After the ceremony, the lovebirds are ushered to their posh hotel for the honeymoon, and Marlo’s sneaky manager Dan Turner (Dom de Luise) makes all the final arrangements in the honeymoon suite. He fusses over the flowers and the huge ostentatious bed flown in from Hollywood for the famous coupling.

Marlo and Lord Barrington are continually pestered by her career demands. There are interviews, photo sessions, and Marlo’s ex-husbands keep trooping through the bedroom. Meanwhile elsewhere in the hotel, an international conference is taking place, and it seems that Marlo–“America’s secret weapon”–is required to work ‘undercover’ to ensure world peace.

Several roles are quite funny–Keith Moon for example plays Marlo’s dress designer. It’s an over-the top role, but fits the film’s style perfectly. Tony Curtis stars as Sexy Alexei–yet another of Marlo’s ex-husbands who recalls those “long Russian nights” with fond regret. George Hamilton and Ringo Starr star as other ex-husbands, and Alice Cooper appears as a waiter.

Whether or not you enjoy this film depends a great deal on whether or not you like Mae West. If you are a fan and have some familiarity with her film career, chances are that you will enjoy the story. If you don’t like Mae West or have no idea who she is, then you probably won’t enjoy the film. The plot is thin and quite preposterous. Here’s this 85-year-old woman entertaining a constant stream of men as they parade through her boudoir. Fans of Mae West, however, will recognise some of those immortal lines, and those infamous wiggles. There’s a sense of justice, somehow, that Mae West outlived the Hays Code of censorship, and lived long enough to deliver lines loaded with double entendre–lines that would not have survived the censor’s scrutiny in the 30, 40s, and 50s. And while it’s sad to see Mae West portray a parody of herself, ultimately THIS fan is grateful that she left yet another film for us to enjoy. From director Ken Hughes.

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