Mae West clung tightly to her sex symbol status until the day she died and that effort is more than evident in Sextette. West was 85 years old when she starred in what would be her final film, and while it’s definitely a train wreck, it’s the kind of trashy entertainment that I live for.
Marlo Manners (Mae West) is an international celebrity that just got married for the umpteenth time to Sir Michael Barrington, portrayed by a young Timothy Dalton (who would later star in one of my favorite film’s, The Beautician and the Beast). The newlyweds arrive at a lavish London hotel for a peaceful honeymoon, but all sorts of shenanigans occur because everyone wants a piece of Marlo, whether they’re an ex-husband or a news reporter. I didn’t think that West could get any stranger than her role as Leticia Van Allen in Myra Breckinridge, but she really outdoes herself in this one. She kept the same facial expression throughout the entire film while struggling to walk in her tight fishtail gowns and every single line from her character was a perverted one-liner. For example:
Sir Barrington: “I feel like the first man who landed on the moon!”
Marlo: “In a few minutes, you’re going to be the first man who landed on Venus.”
Classic Mae West! All of her jokes were beyond cheesy, but I laughed at just about all of them. There’s nothing better than an old lady with a filthy mouth. Rumor has it that she had an earpiece on during the production and the director, Ken Hughes, told her exactly what to say. I’m not sure if this is true, but it’s obvious that something fishy was going on due to the unnatural way she delivered her lines.
I can’t go without mentioning the numerous celebrity appearances: Regis Philbin, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, and Alice Cooper, just to name a few. Anytime a film has 5 or more cameos, it’s probably not going to be that good. This is especially true in Sextette. The film heavily relied on Mae West and the motley crew of celebrities for success, and not enough attention was given to the more important parts of the movie (dialogue, acting, etc.). There were also a couple of terrible musical numbers, and some of them even involved choreographed dancing! Of course, West got to do most of the singing, but I enjoyed Dalton’s version of “Love Will Keep Us Together” the most. He put Captain & Tennille to shame.
I think that Sextette was the best way to end West’s film career. She was a camp queen at heart, and her soul shines through every moment of this bad, bad movie.