Saturday, January 19, 2013

#887. Sextette (1978)

Directed By: Ken Hughes

Starring: Mae West, Timothy Dalton, Dom DeLuise

Tag line: "The Sin-Sational Mae West"

Trivia: Alice Cooper has claimed on numerous occasions that Mae West sexually propositioned him and each of the film's other leading men

Mae West, star of stage and screen, was approaching 85 years of age when she made Sextette, which was based on a play she herself wrote. Decked out in a blonde wig to make her look younger (it doesn’t), Ms. West delivers a slew of unforgettable lines, such as “It’s not the men in my life, but the life in my men”, and “is that a gun in your pocket, or are you glad to see me?” If the thought of a senior citizen wearing skin-tight dresses and uttering sexual innuendo turns you on, then you won’t want to miss this film. If, on the other hand, just reading the above has given you the nervous shakes, consider this fair warning; Sextette is easily one of the most uncomfortable motion pictures I’ve ever had to sit through.

West plays world-famous movie star Marlo Manners, who’s just tied the knot with husband #6, British aristocrat Sir Michael Barrington (Timothy Dalton, over half a century younger than his leading lady). As it turns out, the London hotel where the happy couple’s honeymooning is, at the same time, hosting an important U.N. Summit. In fact, the Russian delegate, Alexei Karansky (Tony Curtis), is Marlo’s ex-husband, and when his “no” vote stalls the proceedings, the U.S. representative asks Marlo to intercede. Unfortunately for the newlyweds, Alexei won’t be the last of Marlo’s exes to turn up. While all this is going on, Marlo’s pushy agent, Dan Turner (Dom DeLuise), is preparing his client for her next big movie role. No matter how hard they try, Marlo and Michael can’t get a moment’s peace; they’re even hounded by gossip columnist Rona Barrett (playing herself)!

Sextette is positively littered with painful sequences, far too many for me to list here. So, let me touch on a few “highlights”. When Marlo and Michael first arrive at the hotel to begin their honeymoon, they’re treated to an impromptu rendition of “Hooray for Hollywood”, during which Miss West prances around rather gingerly, as if she were afraid she might fracture a hip. When the lovebirds are alone in their suite, they once again break into song, this time a duet of “Love Will Keep Us Together” (I nearly swallowed my tongue when Michael serenades Marlo with the line “Young and Beautiful, someday your looks will be gone”). But of all the awkward scenes in Sextette, nothing quite compares to those moments when Mae West is acting sexy, and coming on to every guy she meets. She even pays a visit to the US Athletic team, which is training in the hotel’s gym. Making her rounds, she slinks over to one of the athletes and says, “I’d sure like to see your Javelin”. Honestly, it’s like watching your grandmother talk dirty!

The tragedy of it all is that Sextette features a number of interesting supporting players, including Ringo Starr as an eccentric film director (who also happens to be husband #4); Keith Moon, the late drummer of The Who, as a dressmaker; Regis Philben, as himself; and Alice Cooper (that’s right, Alice freakin’ Cooper) as a waiter (and a singing one at that). A few of these cameos managed to bring a smile to my face, and if this were any other movie, I’d say they made it worth checking out. But after spending 90 minutes with an 80+ year old in heat, the only recommendation I can offer is this: if you do decide to watch Sextette, proceed with extreme caution: this film could put you in therapy.


Robert M. Lindsey said...

Hilarious! Your review that is, I'm not sure I'd want to watch the film. Man, Timothy Dalton?

Nick said...

Yes, Timothy Dalton. Anyone who says he's a bad James Bond, or questions his acting ability need only watch him in this. Not only does he act his arse off, he actually convinces that his half-century younger character is actually in love with....Her. Dalton deserves an honorary Oscar for this film alone. Anyone else would have crumbled, but he retains his dignity and his sanity and thankfully was rewarded with the chance to bring James Bond back to his Fleming roots later in his career.