THE GUILLOTINE: Twentieth-Century Classics That Won't Last No 9: MAE WEST

Mae West! Her very name became a byword for lewd, come-hither sexuality, as she brazenly flaunted, right up to her death at the age of 88, her taste for male bodies rather than men. Though "fresh" sounds like a ludicrously inappropriate adjective to describe a woman whose trademark was unambiguously unvirginal carnality, she did in fact bring a gamy whiff of fresh air (if such an oxymoron is possible) into the rigid conservatism of the Hollywood cinema of the interwar years.

Cinema fans say it again, Sam

IF YOU are trying to impress, your favourite film quote is, of course, "Brothers! Who are you shooting at?" from Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potem- kin. Less obscure, and yesterday voted the most famous line in cinema history, is: "Bond, James Bond," originally said in Dr No in 1962 and in every 007 film ever since.

Preview: Eye lights

One does not readily associate Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth with 19th-century tribal dance, but photographs of both will be on display in Gotta Dance. Classic dance photographs from the Twenties, Thirties and Forties and works by well known masters of the 20th century are featured in this romp through dance and photography. Everything is for sale; prices start at pounds 250. Michael Hoppen Photography, 3 Jubilee Place. Information: 0171-352 3649. Tue-Sat, 12-6pm. Ends 31 January.

Jeffrey Bernard says farewell

Every week until his death he treated readers of The Spectator to stories of his `low life'. The day before he died he received Elisabeth Anderson and other colleagues at his bedside. They shared some good tales

In my week

Flora bursts into the room, in her third change of clothes: she has shed the floor-length orange satin with the matching gloves and boa in favour of a black, shorty dress with white details. As a finishing touch, she has added a black ribbon to the top of her head and looks, to be honest, a bit like Betty Boop. Flora always does this clothes- changing routine when she has her eye on someone, and tonight's victim promises to be Marcus. I can tell it's Marcus for two reasons: he is the only stranger in the room and he has been talking all night about his girlfriend, who has not been invited.

Are you being served?

Mr Humphries, eat your heart out. James Sherwood visits Britain's first gay superstore

Hollywood's last great gentleman bows out

The actor James Stewart, star of more than 75 films, has died at his home in Beverley Hills, California. Stewart, who won an Oscar for his role in The Philadelphia Story opposite Katherine Hepburn, suffered a cardiac arrest yesterday morning. He was aged 89.

Obituary: Jean Louis

Jean Louis was one of the finest costume designers of Hollywood's golden years. His clothes for women were soft and pliable, glamorous and very feminine, though like all designers of the period he was also adept at providing wide shoulders, angular lines, or smartly tailored business suits for the executive woman. He spent most of his early career as Head of Costume at Columbia Studios, where he dressed stars such as Rosalind Russell ("The way she carried her clothes made it a pleasure"), Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, Kim Novak and the studio's prime contract star, Rita Hayworth.

Ginger classic as Roaring Forties fashion breezes in

When Ginger Rogers donned her white feather dress in Top Hat, one of the 10 films she made with Fred Astaire, the result was a classic of cinema history.

Stagecoach could be in for a very rough ride

Brian Cox, the chairman of South West Trains, must be used by now to apologising for cancellations; his long-suffering passengers are certainly used to taking his published timetables with generous helpings of Saxa. The one cancellation he will not be apologising for, however, is the craven decision of MPs to abandon today's scheduled grilling of SWT before the Commons Transport select committee.


"I've often been accused of being myself on screen, but being oneself is more difficult than you'd suppose," Cary Grant once said, musing on the nature of identity. The star is back in the cinema this week in the re-released 1940 classic His Girl Friday, a screwball comedy that shows him at the height of his powers. Suave, teasing and fiendishly sexy, Grant is the model romantic lead. A glance at his life reveals that Grant is also a model of celebrity, of self subsumed by a perfectly-shaped persona.

Liars on a grand scale

Philip Hoare investigates the tricky business of film biography The Real Life of Laurence Olivier by Roger Lewis, Century, pounds 17.99 Rosebud : The Story of Orson Welles by David Thomson, Little, Brown, pounds 20

Educating Archie

Did Cary Grant know John Major's dad? Christopher Bray investigates; Cary Grant by Graham McCann, Fourth Estate, pounds 16.99

End of the line for our quaintest railway?

Fears that the smallest and quaintest railway in Britain, the eight-and- half-mile Island Line on the Isle of Wight, may be closed were heightened yesterday when it emerged that the new operators have been given only a five-year franchise.

Books: Shelf Life: Cary Grant, A Class Apart by Graham McCann, 4th Estate pounds 16.99.

Pauline Kael wrote of Cary Grant: "We smile when we see him, we laugh before he does anything; it makes us happy just to look at him." It has been 10 years since Grant died and 30 years since his last film, yet his appeal is undimmed. He represents simpler, happier times; he remains Hollywood's embodiment of youth and elegance - partly because he retired with dignity before the onset of old age, partly because he could never really be anything else. Grant's warm and easy rapport with audiences outlives him, as this scrupulous, respectful biography reminds us.
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