Jul 16, 2020
Myra Breckinridge (1970) (part 5 of 12)
We hear a brass band playing “upbeat” music, complete with a xylophone that reminds us this movie is supposed to be a comedy. A Rolls Royce limo pulls into a parking lot, and we pan up a high rise building. Then we cut to the front door of a talent agency office, where there’s a sign reading, “LEADING MEN ONLY“.
We pan up and see the words “Leticia Van Allen, President.” A man enters and announces to a waiting room full of men that Miss Van Allen’s on her way. Then he puts on a really goofy smile that immediately turns into a smarmy, oversexed look. So, I guess he’s supposed to be gay? Wow, so what this movie seems to be saying is that there are a lot of people in Hollywood who might be homosexual. Now, that’s cutting edge satire!
There’s a whole host of “Leading Man” types in the waiting room, and they all stand and clear a path as Leticia Van Allen enters. Depressingly, she’s being played by an aging, nearly mummified Mae West.
West in her heyday was a pioneer, famous for delivering risqué dialogue that’s still remembered to this day (“Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” “When I’m good, I’m great. When I’m bad, I’m better!”). It’s even more remarkable when you consider that she herself wrote much of her delightfully smutty dialogue at a time when virtually no women were writing or directing movies. And her one-liners were even responsible in no small part for the eventual adoption of the Hayes Code. But as will soon be made clear, this is not the kind of talk you want to hear coming out of a 77 year old mouth.