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SEXTETTE (1977).

How could any self-respecting, masochistic cult-moviegoer pass up this item? I know I couldn't, even though I'd heard nothing but the most hair-raising rumors about it for years. Could it actually be tackier -- more inane -- more terrifying -- than MYRA BRECKINRIDGE? Yep!... This was Mae West's final film, and she was still playing the vamp at the ripe ol' age (and when I say old, I mean OLD) of 85, as Marlo Manners, the ultimate sex symbol (maybe 65 years ago she could've stopped traffic, but now she has to settle for a clock). And while Mae and her latest hubbie (future James Bond, Timothy Dalton) lounge around their palatial honeymoon suite, Mae reminisces about her past conquests while the roster of quick-buck guest stars stumble through. There's the always-confused Ringo Starr as a Stroheim-like director; George Hamilton (who was so good in GODFATHER III, that he was virtually invisible) as a pinstriped gangster; Alice Cooper in a permed wig and tuxedo; Keith Moon as a foppy fashion designer; plus Dom DeLuise, George Raft, Regis Philbin, Rona Barrett -- the list of has-beens and never-will-be's goes on and on. Meanwhile, the viewer gets to grind his/her teeth at the loose excuse for a plot, in which the U.S. government begs Mae to spend a night with one of her ex's, a Russian bigwig (Tony Curtis), in order to save diplomatic relations. The script moves furiously without one honest laugh, while betting its flurry of cameos and opulent sets will make audiences forgot that underneath the veneer, this movie sucks!! But wait! Just when you think it's as cheesy as it could ever possibly get, the entire cast breaks into song and dance, and you remember it's also a fucking musical! You haven't lived 'til you've heard Mae and Dalton in a duet of "Love Will Keep Us Together". Or how about Dom DeLuise cranking out a cover of the Beatles' "Honey Pie"? And I bet you thought AT LONG LAST LOVE was interminable!... But to be honest, the most truly frightening aspect of the movie is watching Mae West toddle through the proceedings. She's so heavily cosmetized that she looks like a Wax Museum reject; she sounds like someone Drano-ed her voice box; and she can barely move because her bones are so brittle. You get the notion that one good wind would turn her into a pile of dust. When she visits the U.S. Olympic Gymnast Team and wisecracks about their greased physiques, the athletes simply look embarrassed at having this worn-out ol' crone making lewd remarks. I felt sorriest for Timothy Dalton, who had to smootch with a woman old enough to be his grandmother, and just the thought of laying pipe to that pasty-faced bag o' bones could make any man's member shrivel and fall off. Based on a play by Mae, and directed with all the subtlety of a Super Bowl halftime program by Ken Hughes. The only good joke is an unintentional one: At the end Dalton turns out to be a British secret agent ("bigger than 007"). Talk about premonitions!... Distributed (barely) by Crown International. Even by their grim standards it's a disaster of epic proportions.

© 1991 by Steven Puchalski.