on October 20, 2000
I own 'Sextette', LOVE IT, and highly recommend it to all,..all that is who have a sense of humor! Miss West made this, her last film, "For the Fans" & she does not fail to deliver. 'Sextette' gets a bad rap from some critics, but then they are not the fans for whom Mae left us this last gem! Buy it, watch it, & be your own critic...you will enjoy it! Mae looks great, certainly not 85!! She is breathtakingly beautiful in the bedroom scene in her powder-blue gown! Thank goodness she did one last Technicolor movie for us fans!! My favorite line is at the end of the gown fitting session, where she purrs, "I'm that gal that works at Paramount all day..,and Fox all night!" There will never be anyone like Miss Mae West again, & Hollywood will never be able to pull off another movie like 'Sextette' again. Lots of great stars, cameos, (even pre-Millionaire Regis Philbin) music, & Mae West - true Hollywood History! Enjoy!!
on April 21, 2011
This new edition of Sextette presents the film in Widescreen for the first time, with a new transfer from the original print. This corrects the fact that when the previous DVD release was pressed, an inferior print of the film was used, which meant that the VHS version was actually better than the DVD.
As a fan of the late, great Mae West I would like to take the time to correct some factual errors repeated on the Amazon page for the original DVD by some of the other reviewers, and add a few comments of my own. Miss West was 84 when she made this film in 1977; she died three years later on November 22, 1980, at the age of 87. She did in fact attend the Hollywood premiere, and received a Lifetime Achievement award from After Dark magazine the same year. The play Sextette was a minor comedy she starred in and wrote in 1961, not the 1920's. When she toured with the stage play she was 68. While it certainly is true that she was but a parody of herself by the time she made the film, many of her fans were grateful for the chance to see her perform one last time, as both her screen and television appearances were far too few in relation to her talent and comedic genius.
The cast included many big-league supporting actors and cameos. Timothy Dalton, George Raft, Rona Barrett, Dom De Louise, Tony Curtis, Ringo Starr, George Hamilton, Walter Pidgeon and even Alice Cooper all had scenes with the star, resulting in a film that can only be classified as pure camp. It was a tribute to Miss West's reputation that so many of these stars were anxious to work with her. I once met a lighting technician who was assigned to the original stage tour of Sextette, and he confirmed what I had always heard - Mae West was regarded as a total professional and a consummate artist by all who worked with her, and absolutely loved by the crews on both her movies and plays.
Many critics were quick to promote the rumor that she was totally senile at the time of filming, and there were many rumors about how she had to have her lines fed to her through an ear-piece. This rumor is belied by watching her lip-synch her way through any one of several songs on the soundtrack. On "Happy Birthday, 21" for example, her timing is absolutely perfect and her lips move in complete harmony with the recording, not a minor feat for someone her age. On a few of the funnier lines, her delivery is classic West at its best, and she shows flashes of her famous impeccable timing just as often as she shows her extreme age. Yes, she looks, moves and talks like someone in their late 80's, but what can one expect? The fact that she had the stamina and chutzpah at that age to even appear before the cameras was amazing in itself.
Strictly for fans? Absolutely, but I for one am glad she bothered. If you want classic Mae West get a hold of I'm No Angel, She Done Him Wrong or Klondike Annie and see her in her prime, but if you are a devoted fan you will want to see this film as well.
PS - It's about time that this woman had a major documentary devoted to her talents. Her TV appearances, which are almost completely unavailable, include her 1959 Academy Award duet of BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE with Rock Hudson and guest stints on the Dean Martin and Red Skelton variety shows. Her only TV appearance available on DVD is her guest shot on Mr. Ed. The few of her TV guest shots that I've seen (which was before VCR let alone DVD was invented) were great, and I'd pay big bucks to find a DVD documentary or collection that includes them all.
on July 14, 1999
Mae was very ill when she made this. Her diabetes was very out-of-control and she was aging at an alarming rate. Even so, friends of mine who do not know her age guessed that she was in her 50's. They were quite suprised to find out she was over 85! She planned to do this movie right after Myra Brekenridge but got sidelined. She looked great the clips of Myra Breckenridge that were shown on the Biography channel. (I have never seen Myra Brekenridge - apparently Tom Selleck, Farrah Fawcett, and Raquel Welch will not allow it to be sold on the video market). She was very wealthy (owning many parcels of prime California real estate). Only when she realized that she didn't have much time left did she decide to do one last movie for her fans - she was beautiful in some scenes- especially the entry in the wedding gown, bedroom scenes, and the clothing try-outs for an 'upcoming Marlo Manners movie' ( she wanted to show her Diamond Lil characters one more time in Color for her fans). Mae within one year of this movie had begun having the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease. She recognized only old acquaintances, she had to have her lines read to her through an earpiece, just before reciting them, through out the filming. She was even left standing in a elevator for several hours - after the set was shut down (she had to walk down a hall, say a line and hit a button-- this scene took many retakes to get all the actions in the correct order, when it was finally done they rapped the set and left - finally someone remembered Mae and rescued her from the elevator.) My favorite scene is her meeting with George Raft in the elevator. A definite chemistry was still there. Its fitting that he was in her first and last movie. The only part of the movie I feel should have been cut was the Dom DeLouise solo song - absolutely ridiculous. Mae insisted on having the end of the movie changed - where she sang 'Next, Next' with Alice Cooper. Originally, the producers wanted her to sing a sad song lamenting loosing her new husband. Mae said NO - she was going to show a self-confident image which is what her fans wanted- and get her husband back ---- and she did. One additional thing, Mae had a stroke three months before she died at 87. She was unable to talk - but did enjoy watching her movies until her death. She was given the last rights by a priest - and thru out her life she was known to give her car to Nuns whenever she saw them in need of transportation, then buy herself a new one. She took care of her Mom, Dad, brother and sister Beverly -providing them a private ranch. Her sister Beverly only lived a year after Mae- but she was left quite well off.
on January 29, 2003
Yes, baffled as to why so many people on the web have reviewed this film with such hostility and sadistic glee. It seems the biggest complaints against this movie is that #1)Mae West was in her eighties when she made it. Not one reviewer can honestly say that she looked more than in her late fifties in Sextette. Remember that she was in her forties at the height of her career, not a huge discrepancy. #2)Her waistline doesn't exist. Not only is that an exaggeration, but she was never slender to begin with, so her extra pounds should come as no surprise. #3) The script is bad. Well it's only bad if you're comparing it to Citizen Kane. This is supposed to be fun, vain silliness, and it is. Mae West and Dom Deluise are hilarious, and Timothy Dalton, Ringo Starr, and Tony Curtis really seem to be enjoying themselves and giving it their all. I loved all the cameos; the chemistry amongst the entire cast is magic, surprising when one considers that West reportedly disliked most of the choices. Yes, the duet was corny and ridiculous, but funny (even if the humor was unintentional). The only problem I can name with this film is the language in the kitchen scene, it will be insulting to certain ethnic people. Although it's really no more un-PC than the depiction of the giggling, submissive, broken-English-speaking Black maids in her earlier films. What I find disturbing is that reviewers have more of a problem with West's age than the off-color "humor" against foreigners in the kitchen scene.
Once I saw this film a second time, the script actually made a lot more sense and was more intricate than I first realized. Believe me, when I, a Mae West fan, ordered this tape I thought I was going to be seeing one of the most boring, stupid, wastes-of-times in Hollywood's 100 year history. Thankfully, i was disappointed!
The best part is that Sextette doesn't take itself seriously and doesn't expect its viewers to, either. It assumes its audience is intelligent enough to know camp when it sees it. Several of us do recognize it and appreciate this. Too bad there's the rest out there.
BTW, tf this film is still unbearable, I suggest She Done Him Wrong. West is almost fifty years younger, for you agists out there, and her waistline has to be about twenty inches round, lol. But don't expect the script to be any less flamboyant.
on April 26, 2011
Fans of Mae West have suffered long enough viewing inferior prints of her last film, Sextette. Finally a newly remastered version has been released, and this vastly improved version should attract new fans for the woman who was daring enough to stage her play "Sex" sixty years before Madonna published her metal bound book of the same title.
It was Mae West's gay connection which helped to keep her front and centre in the collective cultural consciousness and primed for yet another revival. Finally, in 1976, two neophyte producers, Daniel Briggs, twenty-one and Robert Sullivan, twenty-three, announced they were bringing Sextette to the screen. Simultaneous with the news that Sextette was to go into production, came an announcement from Tom Bradley, mayor of Los Angeles, that he was creating a special Mae Day and issuing a proclamation in her honor. Bradley presented West with a scroll acclaiming her "valuable and important role" in the movie industry on Saturday, May 6, 1976.
In August, after seeing 36-year-old Timothy Dalton, West was quoted as saying "Don't search any further. He's the man I want. I've always liked Timothy Dalton since The Lion In Winter. He's charming and handsome, and he can act. I was happy we got to work with each other in Sextette."
West's publicist, Stanley Musgrove assisted in looking for a composer who could work with West and give her material that would make her look good. In the end, veteran rhythm and blues arranger and producer, Van McCoy was hired to score the film, and his subtle disco arrangements brought a contemporary feel to the picture. West had eight musical numbers in the film and she told Kevin Thomas, "Isn't that funny. Instead of "Wedding March" they play "Hooray for Hollywood." According to Stanley Musgrove, Paul Novak, West's long time companion told him the dailies of Sextette he'd seen "Aren't so good and that the musical numbers will have to save the picture."
During an interview for Club magazine, West told a reporter, "I know my rhythm and how to pace a film. At the end of Sextette" they wanted me to do a ballad that ended on a sad note. I told `em, hey, fellas, it'll be too slow. You'll ruin the mood we've established. I know my music. We got to do this right. We need something fast. Later, when we saw the rushes, the producers told me I was right." The soundtrack for Sextette was never officially released; however, Crown International Pictures prepared a publicity kit for the film which included a cassette containing the Van McCoy produced musical numbers featuring Mae West without dialogue overlapping her songs.
When asked how she felt about her costars West was upbeat. "We had a good time on the set. It was quite a cast. Dalton, Tony Curtis, Ringo Starr, George Hamilton, Keith Moon, Alice Cooper, George (Raft), all those musclemen, and of course, Dom DeLuise. I think this is the closest anyone's ever came to stealing a picture from me! But he's a doll. And a very funny man. Working with him was one of the great treats of my career."
Ringo Starr enjoyed working with West and invited her to a wrap-up gala he threw in a rented house on Woodrow Wilson Drive. "I had this party there and about a hundred people came including Mae West. We had a band and a lot of musicians and rock `n' rollers were there obviously. Mae just sat in a big chair and all these rockers were on their knees to her because she was so great. She had such a huge personality and she could mix with the best of them."
Herbert Kenwith first met Mae West when she appeared in Catherine was Great in 1944 and over the years had been her business advisor, director and personal friend. Perhaps he is the closest person alive to be able to speak about what really went on in her mind. Los Angeles Times Film Critic, Kevin Thomas, believed Kenwith knew more about West's insecurities than anyone. He told Thomas that West had asked him to direct Sextette, but he refused because he felt "it wasn't any good, and I told her so." In an A&E Biography on West, Kenwith recalled being with West on the last day of shooting on the Sextette set. "We got into her car. I said nothing about the film. She asked me nothing. The chauffeur was driving. I was sitting on the back seat with Mae and I just continued to look out the left side of the car. Mae was looking out the right side. We didn't talk to one another. I was determined not to talk about the film Without any warning, she put her hand upon mine whereupon I turned to her and she said, `Well dear, that was yesterday. I've got to think about tomorrow.'"
Huge pink billboards sprouted around Los Angeles proclaiming "MAE WEST IS COMING" but as summer passed into fall no studio stepped forward to distribute the film. West began to worry the film might sit unseen on a shelf. Warner Brothers agreed to show the film for a limited run in Westwood, but it upset West to discover Sextette would be shown double billed with Outrageous! starring Craig Russell. West showed up for the Westwood showing but Craig Russell did not. Basinger and Duran were in attendance that evening and recalled Outrageous! was shown first. According to Robert Duran, a Mae West insider who attended the event, West did not view Russell's film. "She didn't come into the theater until the intermission. People were out in the lobby and that's when she arrived in the white limousine."
In March of 1978, Briggs and Sullivan signed a lease for the Cinerama Dome near Sunset and Vine and held an old-fashioned Hollywood opening complete with floodlights, bleachers and an interview platform for arriving celebrities. Reviews of the film in the Los Angeles press were mixed and even Kevin Thomas, diplomatically stated the film "will be cherished by her fans for whom it was made."
While Ken Hughes tried his best directing Sextette, it was slaughtered by critics, and this time West was the prime target. Friends hid the most savage reviews from her, but West instinctively knew the film wasn't what she hoped it might be. Robert Duran stated that as far as he knew, Novak kept the bad reviews from West. "Maybe in the old days she read them, but she'd gotten away from that. She knew it was a turkey."
Crown-International booked Sextette into the Warfield Theater in San Francisco in November of 1978 and West travelled by automobile for the opening. Hundreds of spectators who couldn't join the 2,200 ticket holders swarmed Market Street, and West and her entourage had to enter through the stage door as a safety precaution.
Sextette opened on the East Coast in June of 1979 and was booked in several theaters in New York. Time stated the film was "a work so bad, so ferally innocent, that it is good, an instant classic to be treasured by connoisseurs of the genre everywhere." Reviews like this raised hope in West's mind that the picture might become a cult film similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. If West wanted to believe that and it gave her comfort, her entourage willingly obliged her.
on October 22, 1999
Mae West still delivers in this amusing, under-rated comedy. Sextette has been unfairly attacked by some age-prejudiced critics, but the fact of the matter is, this film is not bad at all. The Legendary West is extraordinary in this film as always and looks great. When Timothy Dalton says, "After all, I am British--stiff upper lip," magnificent Mae looks him over, stares at his crotch, and says in that sexy voice, "Well...you gotta start somewhere." She is an American Institution and as Dick Cavette and Rona Barrett have said, "the 8th wonder of the world.
on December 21, 1998
If you have any nostalgia at all for the late '70s in all their cheesy glory, buy this video. This film is amazingly, deliciously, jaw-droppingly bad. Mae West strutting her stuff in her 80s is a mere sidelight compared to the completely over-the-top supporting performances by Tony Curtis, Dom DeLuise and Keith Moon.
Tackiness oozes from every frame of this film, but like much of the mainstream sleaze of the late '70s, it's surprisingly good-natured. Sex is seen as just good clean dumb fun, without the dark, violent and repellent overtones that entered the mainstream with the Reagan era and never left us. This film has much more in common with "Three's Company"-style leering than the mean-spirited crudity of say, "In Living Color".
And I haven't even mentioned the musical numbers! Timothy Dalton and Mae sing "Love Will Keep Us Together" (yep, the cheesy Captain & Tennille hit) as a duet. I'm not sure if "sing" is the right word, but it will suffice. Dom DeLuise sings "Honey Pie" (the Lennon/McCartney gem), tap dances atop a grand piano, and briefly dons matador garb when the tune lurches into a Spanish style. Alice Cooper trys his hand at some disco stylings. If that's not enough to get you to buy this video, I give up!
on January 31, 2005
I bought the VHS edition on the Media label (1980's release) because I have heard that the Rhino DVD has a terrible picture and garbled sound. My copy looks really good. Having said that, WOW, what a movie! Mae West is great and hilarious in the psuedo-musical. Timothy Dalton of James Bond fame, Ringo Starr, Dom Deluise, Walter Pidgeon, Regis Philbin and many others appear in it too. West is Marlo Manners, legendary Hollywood sex queen! Many famous songs get a dubious revival in this unbelievable film. You will just have to see it to believe it!
on May 9, 2011
Despite the idiotic Dennis Dermody's (who, today, resembles a grotesque parody of Nana Mouskuri) disrespectful liner notes (where he used only the most cruel parts of past negative reviews of the film), this 2011 re-release of the film can be quite enjoyable.
It is NOT remastered, however. It is widescreen and from the master print, but not digitally corrected, so grain is still present. At last we can see Mae West's lips and eyebrows, unlike past prints, where we saw only a pale face and massive eyelashes. She looks very, very good for her age. In some shots she is a beautiful older lady, in some, well...there are only so many angles one can look great in, after the age of 60. It is interesting to note that private footage I have of West at the San Francisco premiere of 'Sextette' provide extreme close ups, and she looks roughly 55, smooth and vibrant. Her makeup is flawless as she walks up to a microphone and quips, "I hope you enjoyed my demonstration of progressive ed-u-cation." The crowd of thousands is completely hysterical for her.
This is not a film I usually show my younger friends when introducing them to the phenomenon that is Mae West, but I like it. Mae West was a trouper, totally dedicated to her image. Her co-stars are every bit as campy as she is in this film, and in fact, much more over the top than she. It is a great time capsule of the late 70's.
a note: With all due respect to Ian Whitcomb (who is great at what he does) he was a little off in saying West referred to herself in the third person as "Miss West." Indeed, she would often say "We can't use that. Mae West would never say that." But never "Miss" West. That would have been completely insane. Otherwise, his interview is factual and extremely interesting.
on October 7, 2005
It m a y depend on your mood. If u r a highbrow critic and only embrace "La Strada", Bergman, Fellini, Minnelli, "Cabaret" and so forth u may be the 1 giving this film only 1 point...
But IF u have a sense of humour, satire and respect for ageing superstars NOT past their prime - this is the 1 for u...
Naturally, Miss Mae delivers her most famous lines and there are moments of embarresment - but on the whole - she still is magnetic and of amazing vitality being at the age of 86....
The supporting cast is god(Dom DeLuise a REAL TREAT) but so is Timothy, Ringo and Tony...
Yup, the musical sequences are below average, but as I pointed out, is done with an awareness of humour...
Many a spectator would wish Mae West had`n done this, but I must say, she does NOT come badly out of it...