Sunday, July 25, 2021

Tonight's Movie: I'm No Angel (1933) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

I've continued this summer's chronological journey through Mae West's filmography with I'M NO ANGEL (1933).

I'M NO ANGEL was recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber, along with a number of other West films.

I've previously reviewed Kino Lorber's releases of West's first two films, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT (1932) and SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933). I'M NO ANGEL was West's third film, and the second film West made with up-and-coming star Cary Grant. Grant also appeared in SHE DONE HIM WRONG.

In I'M NO ANGEL West plays Tira, a circus performer who takes her lion-taming act from the hinterlands to the big city and becomes a major star.

Tira simultaneously upgrades the men in her life, leaving behind pickpockets and traveling salesman types for the smart social set. Wealthy Kirk Lawrence (Kent Taylor) is smitten and lavishes gifts on Tira; when Kirk neglects his business and his fiancee (Gertrude Michael), Kirk's cousin Jack visits Tira and asks her to end things with Kirk.

Jack immediately falls for Tira himself and they become engaged. Tira's boss (Edward Arnold) is uspet that she plans to retire and conspires with Tira's ex-boyfriend (Ralf Harolde) to make Jack think Tira is unfaithful.

Jack ends the engagement, and the broken-hearted Tira sues Jack for breach of promise, leading to a slam-bang courtroom scene where Tira, rather than her attorney (Gregory Ratoff), questions a series of witnesses.

I'M NO ANGEL isn't quite in the same league as SHE DONE HIM WRONG, with a little too much time in the movie's first half spent on the darker side of Tira's life, but it's still a very entertaining film.

West is poured into stunning, shimmering Travis Banton gowns which are absolutely eye-popping, and she delivers some of her classic lines in this one, including "Peel me a grape" and "When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better."

No one could have pulled off the final courtroom sequence quite like Mae West, and its pleasures make the entire movie worthwhile. She's simply a great deal of fun to watch.

Grant is good, particularly when he's trying to suppress his delighted reactions to West's courtroom antics, although at this early stage of his career there's nothing especially unique about his performance. At this juncture he was simply a pleasant leading man, but of course he quickly developed into a much more significant performer.

When the trial ends, look for the tallest reporter in the crowd surrounding West; it's future star Dennis O'Keefe in one of his seemingly endless bit parts of the '30s. He's seen second from the left in this lobby card.

The cast also includes Gertrude Howard, Libby Taylor, Hattie McDaniel, Nat  Pendleton, and Walter Walker.  Grant's attorney in the courtroom scene is played by future director Irving Pichel.

I'M NO ANGEL runs 87 minutes. It was directed by Wesley Ruggles (brother of actor Charlie Ruggles) and filmed in black and white by Leo Tover.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray looks great and has a strong soundtrack. Extras are a commentary track by Samm Deighan; the trailer; and half a dozen additional trailers, five for Mae West films and one for a Cary Grant movie.

I've really enjoyed all three Mae West films seen to date and recommend them. It's been a pleasure getting to know her work for the first time.

Next up in Mae West viewing will be a review of the new Blu-ray release of BELLE OF THE NINETIES (1934) costarring Roger Pryor and Johnny Mack Brown, with Duke Ellington as a piano player. Sounds fun to me.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

My favourite exchange in the movie is between Mae and William B. Davison.

Tira: "What do you do for a living?"
Ernest Brown: "Oh, uh, sort of a politician."
Tira: "I don't like work either."

It comes to mind every time there is an election here (Federal, Provincial, or Municipal).

10:04 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Bingo, Caftan Woman.

12:05 PM  

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