William LeBaron for Paramount
directed by Raoul Walsh
starring Mae West, Victor McLaglen, Phillip Reed, Helen Jerome Eddy, Harry Beresford, Harold Huber, Lucile Gleason, Conway Tearle, Esther Howard, Soo Young, John Rogers, Ted Oliver, Lawrence Grant, Gene Austin, Vladimir Bykoff, Huntley Gordon, Russ Hall, Otto Heimel, Tetsu Komai, Maidel Turner, Philip Ahn
screenplay by Mae West, Frank Mitchell Dazey, based on the play The Frisco Kate by Mae West and a story by Marion Morgan, George B.Dowell, music by Victor Young, songs by Gene Austin
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Rose, the San Francisco Doll (Mae West) is kept locked up in a golden
cage by a powerful Chinaman (Harold Huber), but somehow she manages to
escape his clutches - even if she has to kill somebody in self defense
while getting away - and board a boat to Nome Alaska fro the goldrush in
the Captain's cabin. And sure enough, the Captain, Bull Brackett (Victor
McLaglen) soon falls for her, and eh even covers for her when he learns
that she is wanted for murder.
In Vancouver, Sister Anne Alden (Helen Jerome Eddy) boards the ship, as
she wants to go to Nome to help the local mission house which is in a poor
state - and devout Anne and bad girl Rose soon enough find themselves
sharing the Captain's quarters with each other ... and against all odds
begin to like each other - and Anne even gives Rose a book about mission
work to read which leaves Rose quite impressed. Then though Anne dies, and
Rose - realizing that she is wanted for murder even in Nome - assumes
At first, Rose becomes Anne only to evade the police and get away with
the Captain at the earliest possible moment, but when she sees in what
poor state the mission house is, she has a change of heart and decides to
run the mission, in part because she thinks she owes it to Sister Anne.
Soon, applying unorthodox methods she has learned in dance halls around
the world, she has the mission house packed and the collection plates
overflowing ... and she and local chief of police Forrest (Phillip Reed)
fall in love - much to Captain Brackett's dismay, naturally. Problem is,
Rose is also in love with the Captain, and she knows Forrest must never
find out who she really is since she's wanted for murder ...
Ultimately though, Forrest finds out about her true identity, but for
her sake he is willing to give up his job and his ambitions and make a
getaway with her ... Rose, who is by now overwhelmed by her conscience,
declines though, and decides to stay with Captain Brackett, but asks him
to take her back to San Francisco so she can face the charges against her
and clear her name - after all, it was only self defense ...
Raoul Walsh is probably the single best director Mae West has ever
worked with ... Klondike Annie however is far from her best film,
essentially it's a melodram by the numbers with an under-challenged
comedienne in the lead, whose whole star persona - that of a man-eating,
promiscuous bad girl - seems oddly out of place here. Sure the film shows
polish and directorial inventiveness absent from her earlier movies, but
it's also full of kitsch - also absent from her earlier movies - and is
low on jokes.
A pity, but maybe pairing a director of Raoul Walsh's caliber with a
comedienne of Mae West's caliber wasn't such a good idea in the first