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I'm No Angel

USA 1933
produced by
William LeBaron for Paramount
directed by Wesley Ruggles
starring Mae West, Cary Grant, Gregory Ratoff, Edward Arnold, Ralf Harolde, Kent Taylor, Gertrude Micheal, Russell Hopton, Dorothy Peterson, William B.Davidson, Gertrude Howard, Libby Taylor, Irving Pichel, Walter Walker, Nell Craig, Nigel De Brulier, Edward Hearn, Lew Kelly, Hattie McDaniel, Nat Pendleton, Laura Treadwell
written by Mae West, suggested by Lowell Brentano

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Tira (Mae West) is a sideshow singer at Big Bill Barton's (Edward Arnold) circus who lives a very promiscuous lifestyle and loves receiving gifts from men - much to the dismay of Slick (Ralf Harolde), a professional pickpocket who travels with the circus because he's Big Bill's pal and who thinks Tira is his girlfriend. When Tira receives another of her gentleman friends, Ernest Brown (William B.Davidson), in her appartment one day, Slick rushes in, gets into a fight with Brown - who thinks the whole thing is a set-up -, knocks him out and thinks he has killed him ... it's not quite as bad though, however Brown, once revived calls the police who soon arrest Slick after one of Brown's rings is found with him.

Tira now manages she's in a jam, and she persuades Big Bill to let her do a lion-taming number during which she puts her head in a lion's mouth in exchange for - you guessed it - much-needed money ...

Tira the liontamer becomes a raving success, especially with the men, and especially with rich Kirk Lawrence (Kirk Taylor), who soon showers her with presents and neglects his fiancée (Gertrude Michael) in her favour. But when he also starts to neglect his business, his lawyer Jack Clayton (Cary Grant) is alarmed and he decides to talk Tira out of his client ... and promptly Tira and Clayton fall in love, and for real too, and soon they decide to marry, and Tira tells Bill she'll quit the circus - to Bill's dismay because she always was his main attraction ...

Then Slick gets out of prison, and he and Bill cook up a scheme to make Clayton break up with Tira, which actually works ... but Tira is not one to give up on a man easily, so she and her lawyer (Gregory Ratoff) take Clayton to court for breach of contract.

The trial seems to be a lost cause for Tira right from the beginning, since Clayton's lawyer (Irving Pichel) builds his case exclusively on Tira's loose mores and promiscuity ... but Tira decides to question each and every witness herself - among them Ernest Brown, Slick, Kirk Lawrence and even her own maid (Gertrude Howard) -, and with her unique attitude she manages to turn the case to her favour, until ultimately Clayton gives up ... and comes back to her because he realizes he still loves her like crazy ...


As a film, I'm No Angel, Mae West's second film as screenwriter/lead actress, is much more coherent as its predecessor She Done Him Wrong: It has a stringent plot, gives more room to costar Cary Grant and has way higher production values. That said though, in this film like the first one, the main attraction is Mae West, her perfect delivery of her witty dialogue is just priceless, her sexy walk and alluring gestures are hard to resist, and her handling of what is essentially a bad-girl-role is ahead of its time - even today.



By the way: Mae West was not doubled in her lion taming scene, which can be seen in the many shots that have her and the lions in the same picture, and at times she even touches one of them. However, when she puts her head in the lion's mouth, this was done by a camera trick, and not a very convincing one, either.


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




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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD