While Mae West has been the subject of at least one biopic through the years, the wry, tough talent hasn’t been brought to life in a project with quite this much profile before: Bette Midler is aboard to star as the Broadway / Hollywood legend in a new film for HBO that William Friedkin will direct.
Harvey Fierstein is writing the script, working from West’s autobiography Goodness Had Nothing To Do With it. It’ll chronicle West’s rise through scandalous Broadway shows (many of which she wrote) such as Sex and Diamond Lil, and how she battled with authorities, including a spell in jail for “corrupting the morals of youth.”
Diamond Lil helped swing open the gates of Hollywood, and she went on to sign her first big studio contract at 39, launching a string of hits and making her one of the biggest stars of the 1930s, while also giving studio censors plenty to complain about. Middler’s career followed a similar path, kicking off on stage before evolving into a film career in her 30s.
With HBO involved, this may go a similar route to Behind The Candelabra, showing on TV in America and arriving in cinemas over here. It would be good to have both Midler and West back on the big screen.
For a sampling of West's best lines, most of which she also wrote, check out this supercut below.