Tuesday, March 26, 2013
They're No Angels
In 1958, this was Oscar night in Hollywood, and the hit of the evening was a duet between this somewhat singular couple, Miss Mae West and Mr. Rock Hudson. We catch them here in rehearsal, and I think it's as close to an actual candid of Mae as ever I've seen.
The resulting number, a shambolic but highly entertaining rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside," is arguably the gayest moment in television history at least until Paul Lynde's Hollywood Squares debut and possibly the biggest camp in-joke since the last performance of Florence Foster Jenkins. I love the final performance, Rock dapper in his evening suit and Mae in her uniform of feathers and armorlike sequins, but here, a few hours earlier, doesn't it look like they're having fun? It makes me wish they hadn't both had to put on such limiting public faces, ones that kept them from ever seeming quite so carefree and spontaneous.
Here, though, it's clear they've got each other's number - Mae, remember, had already been through Cary Grant, after all. It's like the reverse of the end of She Done Him Wrong, really: "You bad girl," she thinks, and he replies, "Mmmm, you'll find out..."