Review: Mae West Beguiles in 'Every Day's A Holiday'

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday June 29, 2021

Released in 1937, "Every Day's a Holiday" marked Mae West's final film for Paramount Pictures. She would go on to make only four more features, two of them in her later years ("Myra Breckenridge" and "Sextette").

Written by West and directed by A. Edward Sutherland ("Follow the Boys"), "Holiday" is another example of West having to scale back her double entendres and sexy speak to appease the Production Code. It's so sad and enraging to contemplate all the creative talent that was stifled for decades because of a few religious zealots, but I digress... slightly...

The movie is set at the dawn of the 20th Century and centers on Peaches O'Day, a larcenous con who, at the film's onset, is literally selling some poor shmo the Brooklyn Bridge! A power-drunk mayoral candidate, John Quade (Lloyd Nolan), issues a warrant for her arrest, but Police Captain Jim McCarey (Edmund Lowe) allows her to flee to Boston instead.

In a quick and confusing narrative shift she quickly returns to New York disguised, via black wig and gorgeous gowns, as French diva Mademoiselle Fifi. (Apparently, she had enough time to create a sensation.) Quade doesn't recognize her and tries to woo her, but "Fifi" decides to take him down and talks McCarey into running for Mayor.

As with so many West films, the reason to see "Holiday" is to watch her, with her famous walk, purring interjections and lascivious glances. She is never anything less than beguiling.

The movie itself is a bit muddled, and there are no captivating leading men (as a matter of fact I got many of the old white men confused with one another).

The highlights include a lengthy, hilarious scene involving the robbery of items on display in the window of a fancy clothing store, as well as West having a field day overplaying the part of Fifi, a woman of extreme temperament. Her crooning the song "Fifi," in both French and English, is an absolute treat.

A young Louis Armstrong trumpets and sings the jubilant song "Jubilee."

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray boasts a very good visual transfer that looks better, overall, than most of the other West films. There is a jump glitch early on, but otherwise it's pretty impressive, as is the English 2.0 Mono DTS-High-Definition Master Audio sound.

The audio commentary by film historian Kat Ellinger discusses how West was now considered out of favor since more puritanical films were being made. But Ellinger makes it sound like most of the population were now turning against West and were offended by her suggestiveness, when it could be argued that those who were complaining (much like today's Twitterati cancel culture vultures) were simply a loud minority who were being urged on by the Legion of Decency.

"Every Day's A Holiday" takes some still-timely shots at corruption in politics and is worth seeing, if only for West's très diva-esque alter ego, the delightfully blustery, Fifi!

Blu-ray Extras Include:

  • New Audio Commentary by Film Historian Kat Ellinger
  • Six Mae West Trailers

    "Every Day's a Holiday" is available on Blu-ray on June 29, 2021.

    Frank J. Avella is a film and theatre journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep. Frank is a recipient of a 2019 International Writers Retreat Residency at Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assisi, Italy), a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant and a 2015 NJ State Arts Council Fellowship Award. He is an award-winning screenwriter and playwright (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW, FIG JAM, VATICAN FALLS) and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.