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Mae West: It Ain't No Sin

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  131 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In the first comprehensive account of West's legendarily sassy life and work, Simon Louvish examines her early vaudeville career, her controversial Broadway shows, and her phenomenal film career, through to her larger-than-life Vegas and nightclub acts, and fascinating insight into her life with her companion-unto-death, Paul Novak.
Paperback, 491 pages
Published August 3rd 2006 by Faber & Faber (first published 2005)
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Beverly Diehl
A long, deep look into the archives of Mae West, of the papers she left behind, and an analysis of same. I really liked the dive into the vaudeville years, and the deep look at that lifestyle and history.

Despite being well-researched, it was still on the dry side, and the last years felt kind of rushed through. And it captured times, dates, plays, events, but not the SPIRIT of them... I felt like it was circling around Mae West, but never got close enough to feel her essence.

On the other hand,
Nov 30, 2009 F.R. rated it liked it
I’ve read Louvish’s previous tomes on the Marx Bros, Laurel & Hardy and W.C. Fields, and – despite a sometimes arid writing style – he is good at conjuring up the long ago periods when these acts were amongst the biggest in the world. Although, if they did happen to make silent movies, he will spend page after page telling them to you.

Fortunately Mae West – like Groucho and co – was came to cinema at the dawn of sound. And her thirties heyday is the most informed part of this book, as Mae an
Dec 15, 2009 Travis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Mae's a fascinating woman, who went through life playing by her own rules and we get an equally interesting look at the early days of Hollywood, but the author is so eager to show us that he did a lot of research that the book is dry as a text book for long stretches and some really fascinating stuff is presented so matter of factly that you feel you're missing some of the magic of both the lady and the times she lived in.

Be interesting to try one of the books Mae herself wrote. Can't imagine sh
Jan 18, 2008 nikki rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
This book reads like an incredibly boring academic paper. There are a lot of "we can assume"s and "we can never know"s. I just couldn't keep on with it. For such a fascinating lady, who had such an interesting life, this book was incredibly dull.
Brucus Scriptus
Oct 01, 2011 Brucus Scriptus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simon Louvish (2006) Mae West: It Ain't No Sin. London: Faber & Faber: 491 pages.

In highschool near Seattle, my classics teacher fostered erudition in philosophy, Latin and German with his carrot & stick application of discipline & humor. Herr Reinert was quick to scorn the unprepared student, but happy when one made an effort. Those who passed muster might be introduced to the poetry of Ovid, and power figures such as Odysseus and Dido. Pupils wondering how much they could get away
C.S. Burrough
Jul 12, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans
I loved reading about this skilful, acutely intelligent performer who haunts my foggy formative years' recall. I still visualise her swagger, hear her distinct drawl in scratchy, early '30s movies that TV showed late at night, like 'She Done Him Wrong,' 'I'm No Angel' 'Bell of the Nineties' and 'Klondike Annie'.

What we learn from this book is that Mary Jane 'Mae' West, born 1893, turned her hand to many things including scriptwriting and jazz singing. She did some astonishingly risqué work long
Douglas Perry
"Mae West: 'It Ain’t No Sin'" is an idiosyncratic biography, full of cocked-hat authorial bluster and snotty jabs at previous West biographers. This often makes for entertaining reading, for Simon Louvish’s highly personalized style and West’s more-applause-please life are well suited to one another. It’s also nice to see West retrieved from academia, where her corpse has moldered for years under the scrutiny of professors seeking to put their own, usually dubious Ivory Tower interpretations on ...more
Sep 24, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although at least four full-length biographies have been written about Mae West since her death at 87 in 1980, Louvish (Man on the Flying Trapeze) is the first biographer to have access to the recently opened archive of West memorabilia including a 2,000-page collection of quips and jokes and the numerous revisions of the 12 plays, eight screenplays and three novels she wrote. West created and perfected her languid sex goddess persona during years in vaudeville and by serving as her own playwrig ...more
Well, I'd read Louvish's bio of WC Fields, and it was pretty good even though James Curtis' greatly surpassed it. So I saw three copies of this Louvish-penned Mae West bio on the clearance shelf at Half Price Books for $3, and I thought this would be a no-brainer purchase -- until I grabbed one and started skimming through page after page of lifeless copy. I wanted the book to grab me somewhere and it just looked like blocks of letters droning on. I have a pretty good talent for spotting lively ...more
Dec 15, 2008 Natalie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing for a first biographical read about her. This might be a better nonfiction if you had first read all the other biographies on the market about her. After about the first 150 pgs. I lost interest because the biographer was more focused on researching her screenplay activity than Mae in general. Being a writer, I of course found that interesting, but none of her liasons were being explored here, nor her family, friends or personal life.

That's why this is probably a great biography to
Autumn Renae
Jun 11, 2014 Autumn Renae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Mae West is the eternal siren. She was a woman who pushed censorship as far as she could, and then some. This biography captures her as such, the definitive sex symbol of the time. However, it sometimes got a little off topic and too indepth with outside subjects. The final years of her life were rushed through, but the overall book was well put together and extremely well researched. Very impressed.
Merja Pohjola
Jun 20, 2012 Merja Pohjola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Swore I would not give more than three stars to any bio that is written of a person I am not that familiar with, but since it was clearly written with respect and was very interesting, I decided to give it the four stars... though I can not point out any flaws etc, I am sure there are some, just like in any other bio... still, seemed pretty honest to me. Mae's own writings were very interesting.
I enjoyed this author's book on the Marx Brothers and was excited to find he had written about Mae West. While meticulously researched, this Mae West bio is so dry and boring that I could not get through it. Way too much time is spent cramming every last date and fact into the pages and little time is devoted to a narrative describing the personality and motivations of this fascinating woman.
Aug 23, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book on a trade shelf on a cruise earlier this year, and I had no expectations at all when I picked it up. I really knew nothing about West -- but now she has my attention and respect. What a ballsy, amazing woman. And this great book does her justice.
Doris Raines
I. Have. Always. Throught. Mae. West. Was. A. Fabulous. Star. One. Of. Favorite. Line's. To. The. Guy's. Come. And. See. Me. Some. Time. She. Knew. She. Had. The. Guy's. On. Her. Finger. Tip. She. Knew. How. To. Reel. Them. In.
Jul 03, 2016 Roy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have this hardback version and really enjoyed it . Didn't know much about Mar but this book has amazing detail of her early life, her relationships and her playwriting and movies . Brilliant .
Jul 18, 2010 Jerri is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Mae was a very savvy businesswoman. I love all her old movies so I decided to see what was behind the scenes.
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Jan 12, 2011
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Can anyone recommend a Mae West biography? 2 4 Dec 17, 2012 07:46AM  
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Simon Louvish (born 1947 in Scotland) is an Israeli author and film maker. He has written many books about Avram Blok, a fictional Israeli caught up between wars, espionage, prophets, revolutions, loves, and a few near apocalypses.

He has also written biographies of W. C. Fields, The Marx Brothers, Groucho Marx, Laurel and Hardy, and Mack Sennett.
More about Simon Louvish...

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