Variety Reviews

I'm No Angel

Paramount production and release. Stars Mae West. Directed by Wesley Ruggles. William LeBaron supervisor. Story and dialog by Mae West, from suggestions by Lowell Brentano and treatment by Harlan Thompson; photography, Leo Tover; music, Harvey Brooks; lyrics, Gladys DuBois and Ben Ellison. At Paramount, N.Y., week Oct. 13. Running time, 87 mins.

"I'm No Angel" is going to help redistribute a nice chunk of the nation's coin. That the Mae West film is going to make tubs of coin was crystal-clear opening day at the Paramount. Ushers were riding herd on a permanent corral of waitees in the lobby.

As to quality, "I'm No Angel" can stand alone, although without "She Done Him Wrong" as a benediction and a million bucks worth of assorted publicity, high-brow and hoi pollil, the gross probably wouldn't reach the big brackets now looming. Also it's fairly obvious that the same plot mechanics and situations without Mae West wouldn't be a motion picture at all. But that's no criticism. Simply chronicling the fact that it's all Miss West plus a good directing job by Wesley Ruggles and first rate studio production quality in all departments.

Comedy detail has been adroitly worked out and the picture is strongly fortified on laughs, all derived from the West innuendos and the general good-natured bawdiness of the heroine, whose progress from a carnival mugg-taker to a deluxe millionaire-annexer is marked by a succession of gentlemen friends, mostly temporary and usually suckers. When reaching affluence the carnival gall is serviced by four colored maids in an ultra-penthouse and garbed in the flashy manner of an Oriental potentate's pampered pet.

Every now and again Mae West bursts into a song, generally just a chorus or a strain. They're of the Frankie and Johnny genre, but primarily she lays a lion tamer, not a songstress.

Needless to say this opus will scarcely get on the reformers' recommended lists. But with the tide running the opposite way perhaps the spleen of the moralists isn't such a factor right now. And anyway, Mae West is today the biggest conversation-provoker, free space grabber and all-around boxoffice bet in the country. She's as hot an issue as Hitler.

-Land. Variety, originally published October 17, 1933

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Last updated: June 30, 2004