The innovative documentary "When Bette met Mae," which hits iTunes on October 27 2015 and other VOD platforms soon after that premiere, wonderfully combines the early days of Hollywood and the terrifically cheesy early '70s. This film centers around Bette Davis and Mae West meeting for the first time at a November 1973 dinner party that is solely held for that purpose.
"met" director Wes Wheadon explains at the beginning of the film that Davis befriended him while temporarily staying with his neighbor. Wheadon then states both that the neighbor invited West over for dinner during that period and that Davis asked Wheadon to tend bar at that event.
The following Youtube clip of the trailer for "met" nicely communicates the fun of the film while providing a glimpse of what becomes a legend most regarding the original "Bette."
The innovation comes in the form of all of the dialog of the dinner itself being in the form of a captioned cassette tape recording by Wheadon. Actors portraying Davis, West, the younger Wheadon, and the other guests silently act out the accompanying gestures.
The recreation aspect is very reminiscent of that technique that was big in the '70s and also used (and subjected to intense ridicule) in the '90s. Unintentional humor comes in the forms of the actor playing Wheadon having a porn style 'do and 'stache and the actor portraying West pushing up her hair and otherwise vamping despite the recorded real-life West stating that that behavior merely is her act.
The actress playing Davis does a better job; she simply plays the role as an elderly woman conversing with someone whom she finds fascinating and with whom she has many shared experiences.
Hearing Davis and West converse is s huge treat on its own. Learning that the career of West is far more extensive than playing a caricature of a loose woman is fascinating, We further obtain insight into her thoughts regarding so many people imitating said caricature. This includes the group encouraging Davis to offer her best portrayal of the West persona.
Additional too numerous to mention highlights include a discussion of a parody of a classic Davis film, the leading ladies reminiscing about a gala birthday party for Hollywood royalty (not that one), and concern regarding Davis requesting an "orange juice."
Hearing the other guests converse with Davis and Mae as if the legends are just the nice old ladies down the street is another great aspect of the film. One fully expects Davis to blow up and for West to express her own form of displeasure during some of these exchanges.
On a larger level, both fans of classic films and anyone who has had the privilege of a friendship with a celebrity can relate to Wheadon's experience. The folks who make it big always have fascinating stories; doing this when filmmaking still was an art greatly enhances the experience. Personal experience shows as well that Davis and West demonstrate the grace and the warmth of the other greats who recognize those of us who admire them as performers and like them as individuals.
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