I’m No Angel (1933)

Tira (Mae West) is a circus sideshow burlesque performer, but Tira loves the finer things in life and you can’t buy diamonds and furs on a sideshow performer’s salary.  But if she can’t buy them herself, she has no issues with doing the next best thing: hopping from one rich man to another and letting them buy things for her.  In fact, she can spot a rich man from the stage while she’s performing.  Tira knows she isn’t exclusive, but Slick Wiley (Ralf Harolde) seems to be under the impression that he’s Tira’s one and only boyfriend.  One night, Tira has a date with yet another rich man and all is going well until Slick shows up.  Slick hits Tira’s date over the head with a bottle, knocking him unconscious.

Slick and Tira both think he’s dead and try to get rid of the body.  He lives, but the police catch up to Slick and he is arrested.  Even though Tira did nothing wrong, she needs to get a lawyer to see that she also doesn’t wind up behind bars, too.  She doesn’t have the money to hire a lawyer and the only way the boss will give her the money is to become the lion tamer in a new act and stick her head inside a lion’s mouth.  Naturally, Tira is a bit hesitant about this, but she does it anyway and the new act is a huge success.  She becomes a big star and wins over a whole new audience of wealthy men.

Among her new admirers is Kirk Lawrence.  He’s already engaged to Alicia Hatton, but just can’t resist lavishing expensive gifts upon Tira.  Eventually, Alicia comes to Tira personally to ask her to stop seeing Kirk and Tira refuses.  So then Alicia steps it up and gets Kirk’s friend Jack Clayton (Cary Grant) to talk to her and see what he can do.  Tira may not have been willing to listen to Alicia, but she’s always more receptive to a handsome man.  She gladly pushes Kirk aside in favor of Jack and even begins to do the unthinkable — think about marriage.  Just when she’s ready to walk down the aisle, her old pal Slick gets out of jail and tries to come back into her life.  He even tells Jack that he’s been seeing Tira and of course, Jack believes the worst and breaks off the engagement.  But Tira isn’t about to take this sitting down, sues him for breach of contract, and defends herself in court.  But when Slick is called to the witness stand, Tira not only manages to win her case but also wins Jack back.

Mae West movies are all about one thing and one thing only — Mae West.  So if you like Mae, then you’re bound to love I’m No Angel.  She purrs and quips and shimmies her way through the whole movie in her signature style.  Luckily for me, I do like Mae so I really got a kick out of this one.  If you’ve never seen a Mae West movie before, this is a good one to start with because this is truly her in all her glory.  But if Mae’s style isn’t your cup of tea, then you might as well sit this one out because there’s not really anything else to watch it for.  Even fans of Cary Grant might be a little disappointed since he doesn’t really have a big part, he doesn’t even come in until late in the film.  But when he does show up?  Their chemistry is awesome.

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