Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Under normal circumstances one wouldn't expect to find Mae West - who was born on this day in 1893 - singing opera... Then again, as we're so fond of saying around here, there is no such thing as a normal circumstance at the Pop Culture Institute. The place is lousy with puppets, the receptionist is a cat... And that's just for starters!
In which case, the fact that the featured clip (from the 1935 film Goin' To Town) has one of the American cinema's greatest sex symbols playing one of the Bible's greatest sex symbols - namely that of the tonsorial temptress, Delilah - must seem downright normal by comparison. Of course, West doesn't play Delilah in the whole movie, just in the scenes shown above; the rest of the time she's Cleo Borden, a poor hoofer who strikes it rich and then sets her sights on the big time, in the person of Edward Carrington (Paul Cavanagh). Aspiring to class, West's character sashays her way through this famous piece of mezzo-bait, Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix (My heart opens itself to your voice, also known as Softly awakes my heart), from Camille Saint-Saëns's opera Samson and Delilah; her duet partner is Vladimar Bykoff.
Goin' To Town is available on DVD, just not on its own... Instead, it's been considerately bundled with four other Mae West classics for your viewing pleasure as Mae West: The Glamour Collection (along with her screen debut Night After Night (1932), my personal favourite I'm No Angel (1933), the under-rated Go West, Young Man (1936), and 1940's My Little Chickadee, which famously paired her with W. C. Fields); given the quality of her work specifically and the quality of movies from that era generally, this is one package that will not disappoint. If you know what I'm sayin...
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