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on September 14, 2012
A very different Mae West vehicle, The Heat's On supposedly led its star to avoid motion pictures for the next 26 years. According to her autobiography, Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It, Miss West said she had been talked into the film by her old friend Gregory Ratoff, who told her he was set to Produce (un-credited) and Direct a film version of a then-Broadway musical called Tropicana. After the deal fell through, he told her, "Dahlink, we can't do the picture I told you about, but a movie called Tropicana we'll make". Miss West further related that when she saw the script she tried to back out, but too much money had already been invested, and the producers, including Mr. Ratoff, would be ruined if the film didn't go forward. Many film buffs will remember that, among his many film credits, Gregory Ratoff had played Benny Pinkowitz in Mae West's I'm No Angel in 1933, and later played producer Max Fabian in All About Eve (1950), but few realize that he directed (30) almost as many films as he appeared in (49).

The Heat's On is a curiosity. Fleshed out as a standard musical of the early 1940's, it boasts a silly plot but several genuine talents. Chief among these, besides Miss West, are Victor Moore, who turns in a delightfully comedic performance as curmudgeon Herbert Bainbridge, Jazz pianist/singer Hazel Scott, who simply burns up the screen in each of her musical numbers, and the entire Xavier Cugat Orchestra, with Mr. Cugat handling a few lines of dialogue and several showcase musical moments.

Nevertheless, the film mostly falls flat. Mae West seems to give it her best shot when she's allowed on screen, which is not enough, but appears somewhat bored and distracted in some scenes. She apparently wrote some of her own lines, as many are undeniably in her customary snappy writing style. But the good performances are balanced by the completely wooden acting of William Gaxton, who plays bad-guy producer Tony Ferris. Miss West describes his character at one point as "a guy so low, he could walk under the door without taking his hat off". Fortunately for viewers, that's one of her worst lines in the film. Her best are classic West.

What will probably interest Miss West's fans the most is her Amazing appearance at age 50. She appears to have slimmed down considerably from her most previous role, 1939's My Little Chickadee, which she made with W. C. Fields. She looks younger at 50 in The Heat's On (1943) than she did in Chickadee (1939) at age 46. The lovely gowns help quite a bit, although it's rather jarring to view her in a 1940's pompadour hairdo.

All in all, it's pretty much an affair for Mae West aficionados, given the silly plot and excruciatingly long musical sequences. Fans of 1940 musical films just may (or is that just MAE) enjoy it for the staged production numbers, but there are many reasons why it's Mae West's most obscure film. I give it four stars for her presence, but minus one for the script.
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on September 6, 2012
It's interesting to see the legendary Miss Mae West during the 1940's era of boogie-woogie music and bobbed hairdos. Playing stage star Fay Lawrence, Mae does here what she always does best: Commands scenes in her own unique laid-back style, and tosses out one-liners like bonbons. The plot itself is something of a mess: Conniving producers scheme to manipulate Fay's career by making double-crossing deals behind her back. Naturally, it's ultimately up to Mae's character to come in & straighten out the whole mess, as she often did in her earlier films.
The result? Too many random musical numbers, and not enough Mae. After all, she secures top billing, so you would expect to see her dominate this film, and deservedly so. "The Heat's On" (1943) is a rambling production, but has enough going for it to be pleasant. Its best asset--as in every movie she does--is Mae herself. Although THO turned out mediocre because Mae was not invited by Columbia Pictures to re-write some of the script, unlike her previous ventures. This explains why her usual racy humor is not quite as potent in the dialogue here; she occasionally comes off as too mild (especially compared to outstanding West efforts as "She Done Him Wrong" or "I'm No Angel"). However, there's a bright spot: the delightful comic actor Victor Moore, whom has some of the best highlights (his penthouse scene with Mae is tops). Also, sharp eyes can spot a young Lloyd Bridges in a small role.
Unfortunately, Mae's experience with THO convinced her to stay away from making movies unless she had more say & better choice of projects. It was our loss.
But because this film has been long out of circulation, it's worth a look, only because there's really no such thing as a "bad" Mae West film, simply because she was there!
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on July 14, 1999
Mae looks and dances the Rumba (even showcasing a little Xavier Cugat). She is excellent and beautiful. Unfortunately the non-Mae West 'musical numbers' - especially the victory garden music number should have been cut. They make the picture drag. When Mae is on she sparkles and there is never a dull moment. Just when she starts getting really hot doing the Copa Cabana number the movie ends.... leaving you wanting more of Mae...
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VINE VOICEon July 4, 2014
Three years after the box-office success of "My Little Chickadee," the incomparable Mae West returns to the big screen in her final Hollywood starring vehicle. Unfortunately, "The Heat's On" (1943) downplays Mae's presence in favor of an obtrusive subplot and lengthy musical numbers. Worth a look, but West's lack of creative input is painfully obvious.
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on June 3, 2008
One of Mae's lesser seen movies,The Heat's On, made in 1943, was perhaps her hope for a come back in a new era of film making that had changed drastically from her heyday in the 30's. Mae is lovely and sparkles each time on screen. Alas, Mae is only on screen in this picture a mere 24 minutes of the total 83 minute running time. I believe that if Mae had been willing to change her patented Diamond Lil image and had the right people behind her for the transition, she could have had a great second career in the 40's even with the censorship police. She was still a beautiful, talented, unique and one of a kind actress. While not her best movie, The Heat's On is still entertaining,albeit the intrusive musical numbers detract from the story line. If filmed as a Mae West vehicle that made her the centerpiece this would have been a success. Still worth a look nonetheless for marvelous Mae.
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on April 12, 2012
This film, her last for many years, is an interesting departure for West. Although pushing 50, she looks better than in her earlier vehicles - she's slimmed down, has a more contemporary hairdo, and seems to have more vitality than her puffy, tired-looking self in 'My Little Chickadee'.
Not only that, but she's trying something new - paying attention to the other people in the movie!
Much as I love Mae, it must be admitted that her movies were monologues, with her standing around, sometimes obviously impatient, waiting for people to stop talking so she can deliver her next line, and rolling her eyes to the skies rather than looking at her co-players.
Not so here; she makes eye contact, there's a more natural ebb and flow to the dialogue - why, it's almost as if she's in the same story as the rest of the cast!
Pity it's such a terrible story, because it's the closest Mae came to an actual performance, rather than a one-woman show, in her many years onscreen.
The premise is promising. Mae's the star of a tepid musical revue, which her partner 'promotes' by causing the local censors to declare it 'outrageous' and 'indecent'. As a satire on censorship, it's got possibilities - which are NEVER explored. Instead, we get Mae for barely half an hour of the film's 80-odd minutes, which are padded out with interminable and largely indifferent musical numbers that she's not even in! 'What were they thinking?' doesn't even begin to cover it.
So, worth watching once, to see Mae looking her finest and having a stab at the actual acting, but then it's off to another home for the film - as with this copy, which is going on Amazon forthwith!
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on February 28, 2011
Seldom seen, Mae West's 1943 film, "The Heat's On" although universally panned by critics at the time of its original release, is still able to generate some heat today, mostly due to the several stunning musical numbers.
It's a lot of fun, Mae looked fabulous it in, perhaps the most beautiful of all her films. She looked incredibly trim and adopted a current hair style which suited her very well. Her musical numbers were top notch, the only problem being the most dramatic musical production, for the "Lure" number was deemed too disturbing to censors and was cut from the film. West wears a very risque outfit, which she would be wearing when the police were supposed to have raided her show. The dress was entirely made of coruscating blue sequins, except for portions of skin-colored net intended to photograph as real flesh. The outfit featured a fantastic headdress in the form of a coiled snake, studded with blue sequins, its glittering head spitting out at me. From behind the snake a mass of peacock feathers spread in all directions. Over her forehead swung three strands of large, fake pearls. Under her chin, from ear to ear, dangled three more strands of pearls.
Stills that survive of this stunning gown attest to the high camp appeal the scene likely would have generated if it hadn't been excised. Ironically, when the video version of the film was finally released in 1993 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of West's birth, the packaging featured a still from the deleted scene, her Lucite finger nails predating Edward Scissorhands' claws.
If one watches the DVD of the film, which I obtained from amazon.UK in a box set, you see the police bursting into the theatre where Mae's Faye Lawrence character's play "Indiscretons" is raided, and the performers on the stage are running off as the police burst down the aisle. Unfortunately nothing is seen of Mae in her exotic costume.
Over the years, several stills of the infamous Walter Pluckett gown have surfaced, but if this musical number which was reportably banned were to be reinserted, Mae's running time of 25 minutes in this 80 minute film would be boosted and it would make for essential viewing.
Jazz pianist Hazel Scott, musical numbers are extremely good, and very well photographed. Unfortunately, racism often reared it's ugly head in the 30's and 40's and musical numbers featuring African-American performers were often shot as so to be removed from a film print that played in white southern movie theaters.
The film was donated to the U.S. Government by Columbia Pictures as part of the war effort and prints were unavailable for several decades. It was re-released in the late 1940's to capitalize on the popularity of Lloyd Bridges, who played a minor role in the film at the time of it's original release.
During the centennial of Mae West's birth in 1993, Columbia jumped on the bandwagon and released "The Heat's On," to complete the "Mae West Collection" released by Paramount, but it was quickly deleted in the VHS format. To date, not all of Mae's Paramount films have been released in DVD format and currently The Heat's On is not slated for the North American market. However, I found "The Mae West Collection" on DVD available from Amazon.UK and am able to watch it on my computer after resetting the region code.
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on December 27, 2012
Not enough Mae West, but worth it just because she's in it. She is the only one in this movie one remembers.
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on February 18, 2013
Mae West is the best thing about this film. Worth seeing to watch her being sexy as ever. Mae West will NEVER be forgotten.
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on August 7, 2015
As described. very fast delivery.
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