Sunday, September 19, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Go West Young Man (1936) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Mae West has another winner in GO WEST YOUNG MAN (1936), a very enjoyable comedy released on Blu-ray this summer by Kino Lorber.

I've been watching my way through West's filmography chronologically thanks to Kino's new releases of her films, and I'm really enjoying becoming familiar with her work for the first time. I'm particularly impressed that not only was she a unique screen presence, she also wrote her own screenplays.

GO WEST YOUNG MAN is particularly fun on multiple levels. West plays temperamental, man-hungry movie star Mavis Arden, first met at a screening of her film DRIFTING LADY. We're shown clips from DRIFTING LADY, which has a movie-within-a-movie cast including Jack La Rue and band leader Xavier Cugat.

Mavis's contract stipulates she can't marry for five years, and her studio publicist, Morgan (Warren William), does his best to keep her away from men, including politician Francis X. Harrigan (Lyle Talbot). Along with his professional responsibility, it seems as though some of Morgan's motivation may be personal.

During a trip from Washington to Pennsylvania Morgan and Mavis's chauffeured car breaks down, requiring them to stay at a nearby boarding house run by Mrs. Struthers (Alice Brady), her sister Miss Kate (Elizabeth Patterson), and her daughter Joyce (Margaret Perry). Mrs. Struthers also has a very starstruck maid, Gladys (Isabel Jewell).

Mavis initially resists having to stay in the middle of nowhere, until she gets a look at hunky Bud Norton (Randolph Scott). She does her best to seduce Bud, to the dismay of both Morgan and Bud's sweetheart Joyce.

It's looking as though Mavis may succeed in luring Bud to accompany her to Hollywood, but then Gladys hears on the radio that Mavis has been kidnapped and goes to the police...chaos ensues.

I found this movie quite enjoyable, particularly the relationship between Morgan and Mavis. He sees right through her but likes -- loves? -- her anyway, and the pair seems to have fun with a perennial battle of wits as he tries to stop her from having a love life.

The extended section of the film set at the boarding house is a bit like a country house farce such as THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER (1935) or SNOWED UNDER (1936), but with characters who are (mostly) on a lower economic scale.

Given the weak male leads of some of West's films, it was a real pleasure to watch her bantering with Warren William, who could more than hold his own opposite the actress. One of the recurring jokes is Mavis's frequent use of malaprops, which Morgan swoops in to smooth over. They have some great dialogue, such as Morgan telling Mavis to think of her reputation, and she replies "You think of it, that's what you're being paid for."

Scott is also fine as the earnest Bud, who is frequently oblivious to Mavis's attempts to woo him. Patterson is especially delightful as the maiden aunt who quickly sees through Mavis and works to encourage Joyce while plotting to keep Mavis and Bud from spending time alone.

Jewell is also a stitch as the giddy maid. At one point she befuddles Morgan by launching into a very funny impersonation of Marlene Dietrich. Her boyfriend is played by Maynard Holmes, who was unfamiliar to me; it struck me as the kind of role which could have also been played by Grady Sutton or perhaps Sterling Holloway.

The supporting cast also includes Etienne Girardot, Nicodemus Stewart, Charles Irwin, John Indrisano, and Alyce Ardell.

While GO WEST YOUNG MAN isn't a great movie, it's 82 very entertaining minutes. I smiled during much of the film, and you can't ask for more than that from a movie.

GO WEST YOUNG MAN was directed by Henry Hathaway and filmed in black and white by Karl Struss.

The Kino Lorber print has some softness as well as brief lines in the opening credits, but all in all it's just fine, with no distracting issues. The soundtrack is also good. The disc provides a terrific opportunity to see a fun film.

Disc extras consist of eight trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber, most starring West, and a commentary track by Lee Gambin.

Previous reviews of Mae West films released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber: NIGHT AFTER NIGHT (1932), SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933), I'M NO ANGEL (1933), BELLE OF THE NINETIES (1934), GOIN' TO TOWN (1935), and KLONDIKE ANNIE (1936).


Blogger Vienna said...

Sounds fun, one I’ve never seen. Does Mae have any songs? I imagine ,as you say, Warren William would be a match for Mae. His career seemed to peter out in the late 30s.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never seen it but ANN JILLIAN played MAE WEST in a TV-MOVIE titled...MAE WEST. I am a big fan of Ann's. I have seen her in lots of TV-MOVIES. She won a GOLDEN GLOBE for the TV-MOVIE THE ANN JILLIAN STORY which covered her breast cancer story and her marriage to former cop ANDY MURCIA. TONY LO BIANCO played Andy. Ann was nominated for an EMMY for that movie. Ann played the title character in PERRY MASON: THE CASE OF THE MURDERED MADAM. Ann is good friends with another actress I really admire-RUTA LEE. CLASSIC TV FAN

10:37 AM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

Vienna, Warren William seemed (to me anyway) to be very much an actor for the slightly naughty movies of the pre-code era. When Hollywood became squeaky clean it seemed to cramp his style.

3:04 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Warren William in retrospect has been identified as a pre-code star, but while he was never a top star, or bankable at any level, he remained until shortly before his death, quite successful, and in demand by various studios and independent producers.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Vienna! Mae sings a little bit. I hope you'll enjoy seeing it!

Classic TV Fan, I never caught the MAE WEST biopic, thank you for sharing the ifno.

DforDoom and Barrylane, I really appreciate Warren William, like many film stars he brought a unique "something" to his roles. My favorite of his performances is probably in BEAUTY AND THE BOSS in which he's a playboy tamed by innocent young Marian Marsh. I definitely appreciated his give and take with Mae West in this one.

Thank you all very much for your comments!

Best wishes,

6:06 PM  

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