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Belle of the Nineties

USA 1934
produced by
William LeBaron for Paramount
directed by Leo McCarey
starring Mae West, Roger Pryor, Johnny Mack Brown, Katherine DeMille, James Donlan, Stuart Holmes, Harry Woods, Edgard Gargan, Libby taylor, Frederick Burton, Augusta Anderson, Benny Baker, Morrie Cohan, Warren Hymer, Tyler Brooke, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, Gene Austin, Fuzzy Knight, Eddie Borden, Tom Herbert, Sam McDaniel
screenplay by Mae West, based on her short story It ain't No Sin, music by Arthur Johnston

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Ruby (Mae West) and boxer Tiger Kid (Roger Pryor) are in love, but the boy's manager Kirby (James Donlan) does want him to prepare for his big fight and not be diverted by a dame. So he makes Tiger believe that hse is seeing someone else, he breaks up with her on the spot, and heartbroken, she goes to New Orleans to become the singing star of a revue show. Soon enough, the show's sleazy producer Ace (John Miljan) has set his eyes on her even if he's engaged to Molly (Katherine DeMille) - and doing men who are in a relationship is a big no-no for Ruby. Instead she dates Clayburn, a rich man who showers her with gifts, especially diamonds and stuff - much to Ace's dismay.

Eventually, Ace gets the Tiger Kid down to New Orleans to fight a championship fight, without knowing that the Kid and Ruby were lovers, and neither does the Kid know that Ruby's in town nor does she know her ex is coming to town. Ace meanwhile uses the Kid to teach Ruby a lesson and has him rob the diamonds she has received from Clayburn - without the two recognizing each other.

However, it's not much later that Ruby learns of Ace's and Tiger's evil scheme, and makes up a devillish plan to get back at them: Ace has bet all his money on the Tiger Kid because he is clearly the better fighter but also the outsider - so during the fight, Ruby drugs Tiger's water but makes Ace give him the drugged bottle (which she makes mysteriously disappear after the fight), and as a result the Tiger Kid of course loses and with him, Ace loses all his bets, then Ruby empties Ace's safe - where he has hidden her diamonds -, which leaves Ace with only one solution, to burn down his club and make a swift escape. Then though Ruby convinces Tiger that it was Ace who drugged his water, and as a result, Tiger accidently knocks him dead.

Ruby thinks revenge is hers, and it's only then that she learns that Tiger did not actually know he was robbing her but thought he was only teaching a golddigging blackmailer a lesson ... and suddenly the two realize they are still in love with each other. So Ruby decides to burn down the building anyways (Ace did not quite come round to do that before his death) to destroy all evidence ...

... and the end sees Ruby and Tiger marrying, but not before Ace was publicly exposed as the scoundrel he was and Ace was tried for his murder but acquitted for some reason (hey, the Production Code demanded this sort of ending) ...

 

The first film Mae West made along the lines of the newly installed Production Code saw some changes in her character: She was no longer the husband-stealing promiscuous bad girl who comes out on top anyways but essentially a wronged woman in love with just one man who's almost cheated out of the luck she deserves and thus does everything to get it back. Apart from that though, Mae West has changed very little, her walk, her posing and her gestures still spell SEX in capital letters, and even if her oneliners are less direct and more in form of double entendres, it's still pretty clear what she's talking about.

That aside, is Belle of the Nineties a good film ?

Not really, as a film Belle of the Nineties is so-so (like most of West's films actually) ... but as another showcase for the incredible Mae West it's great, she dominates every scene she's in, delivers her witty lines in her trademark style, poses as sexy and provocative as ever, sings some of her best songs (accompanied by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra) and thus makes the film another great Mae West-experience - even if her character and the film as a whole suffer a bit from the restrictions of the code.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD