American Masters


Full Trailer | Mae West: Dirty Blonde

Dive into the life and career of groundbreaking writer, performer and subversive star Mae West. Over a career spanning eight decades, she broke boundaries and possessed creative and economic powers unheard of for a female entertainer in the 1930s.

AIRED: May 28, 2020 | 0:01:56

- Well, when I'm good, I've very good,

but when I'm bad, I'm better.

(dramatic music)

- I see a man in your life.

- What, only one?

- Mae West crafted this image.

She was a sexual gangster.

- You are a dangerous woman.

- Thanks.

- She had that walk in.

"I'm here, lads, take me or take me."

- Are you in town for good?

- I expect to be here, but not for good.

(men laugh)

- Mae West was a pioneer for all those wonderful women

who dare to be sexy: Cher, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyonce.

- Haven't you ever met a man that could make you happy?

- Sure, lots of times.

- [Woman] She's a parody of unbridled male sexuality.

- Good night.

- [Woman] She's standing sexism on its head.

- To play the game, I have

to be smart enough to play it their way.

- [Woman] She was 40 years old

before she ever appeared in a movie.

- Goodness, what beautiful diamonds.

- Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.

- She waltzed in and said, "I wrote it,

"and we're gonna shoot it like this, kid."

- Surely, you don't mind my holding your hand.

- It ain't heavy, I can hold it myself.

- [Woman] She goes from being sent to jail

for what she wants to say in 1926,

to being the toast of Broadway in 1928,

to being the highest-paid actress

in America by the mid '30s.

- Young lady, are you trying

to show contempt for this court?

- No, I'm doing my best to hide it.

- Nothing could intimidate her.

She was just not afraid to go out

and poke a bear with a stick.

- Come up, I'll tell your fortune.

Ah, you can be had.

- Somebody like her becomes

very dangerous to the status quo.

- I don't suppose you believe in marriage, do you?

- Only as last resort.

(dramatic music)

- Any time you got nothing to do,

lots of time to do it, come up.

(dramatic music)


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