<b>Mae West: It Ain't No Sin</b>But, age before beauty: Mae West, known for her body language (a knowing tilt of the head, a carefully raised eyebrow) as well as her suggestive wisecracks, is studiously depicted in <b>Mae West: It Ain't No Sin</b>. Simon Louvish, biographer of W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers, had access to West's archives, a treasure trove consisting of 2,000 pages of West-penned jokes and gags, as well as various drafts of plays, screenplays and treatments. All this written by the woman who famously uttered, Come up and see me sometime. The former Mary Jane West worked her way up in vaudeville, then became a Broadway legend in part due to the notoriety of the 1926 play, Sex. West wrote and starred in the play, which was deemed immoral in a headline-making trial. Sentenced to prison for 10 days, West quipped to a reporter, Give my regards to Broadway. No wonder Hollywood beckoned.
Hard to believe, but she was 40 years old when she began making movies, and history, with her <i>umming</i> and <i>oohing</i> and sexual insinuations. She drove the censors nuts, delighted audiences and became the highest-paid performer in the country. Her screen reign lasted just seven years, but she went on to wow audiences in Vegas, and to star in several '70s-era cult pics, including the campy <i>Myra Breckinridge</i>. When she died at 87 she was living with a much-younger former body-builder, giving credence to her line, a hard man is good to find. <i>Los Angeles-based writer Pat H. Broeske is the co-author of biographies of Howard Hughes and Elvis Presley.</i>