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The 4 Roles That Defined Mae West's Career

By    |   Thursday, 14 May 2015 11:05 AM

Before her transition to mainstream movie roles, Mae West made a name for herself on the vaudeville stage, both as an actress and a writer.

When she did make her film debut in 1932, she went straight to the top, earning top billing, where she stayed for her entire career. Even though her body of work is small, West does have several roles for which she is known.

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Here's a look at five roles that she made her own:

1. Maudie Triplett, "Night After Night" (1932)
Transitioning from vaudeville, West made her film debut as Maudie Triplett in 1932's "Night After Night," a drama that also starred George Raft and Constance Cummings. Hal Erickson in his review for All Movie notes that the movie would be all but forgotten if not for the presence of the ebullient West. The actress, who has uttered some of the most famous lines spoken by an actress in movie history, gets off to a fast start in this movie, which features her famous quote, "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie."

2. Lady Lou, "She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Arguably her most famous role, West stars as Lady in "She Done Him Wrong" opposite Cary Grant, Owen Moore, and Gilbert Roland. She portrays a bawdy Bowery singer who loves diamonds and the company of men.

According to Turner Classic Movies, the film features what is likely West's most famous (and often misquoted) line, "Why don't you come up some time and see me?" Another famous line spoken by West in the movie is "Listen, when women go wrong, men go right after them."

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3. Tira, "I'm No Angel" (1933)
Paired again with Grant, along with Edward Arnold and Gregory Ratoff, West appears as Tira in "I'm No Angel." In addition to starring in the movie, she is also credited with writing the story and co-writing the screenplay. The story is about the star of a traveling sideshow who works with a pickpocket to make extra money on the side.

In addition to repeating several variations of her famous line from "Night After Night," two additional noteworthy lines are attributed to West, including "When I'm good I'm very good. But when I'm bad I'm better" and "It's not the men in your life that count, it's the life in your men."

4. Flower Belle Lee, "My Little Chickadee" (1940)
"My Little Chickadee" featured a much anticipated pairing with comedian W.C. Fields. Set in the Western frontier during the 1880s, West portrays Flower Belle Lee, a singer heading west to meet family members, who ends up pretend marrying a con man, played by Fields.

Both West and Fields banter throughout the film, repeating signature lines from previous films, including an exchange where the Fields' character, Cuthbert J. Twillie, says, "Come up and see me sometime," and Flower Belle Lee responds with, "Mmm, I will, my little chickadee."

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Before her transition to mainstream movie roles, Mae West made a name for herself on the vaudeville stage, both as an actress and a writer.
mae west, roles, career
Thursday, 14 May 2015 11:05 AM
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