Friday, August 18, 2017

Belle of the Nineties

I mentioned a few months back that I picked up a cheap box set of Mae West movies, and have done posts on a couple of films in the set. Recently, I watched Belle of the Nineties off it.

The plot here has Mae as Ruby, the burlesque queen of St. Louis in the 1890s. She could have every man eating out of the palm of her hand, but is in love with Tiger (Roger Pryor), a boxer who's hoping for a chance at the title. Things happen and Ruby winds up decamping for New Orleans.

Once in New Orleans, she meets Ace (John Miljan), a club owner who promotes Ruby, and millionaire Brooks (Johnny Mack Brown), who really falls hard for Ruby, buying her jewels and the like. Oh, and then Tiger shows up again, because he's been able to work his way into getting that title fight, and Ace is promoting it. All sorts of complications ensue over Ace hiring Tiger to play highwayman and rub Ruby of those Jewels, and Ruby finding out what's really up. And will the title match be fixed?

I have to admit that I found Belle of the Nineties to be less entertaining than most of the other Mae West movies I've watched. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that it got its release in September, 1934. This is a couple of months after the crackdown by Joe Breen and the institution of the new and improved (for some values of "improved") Production Code. Mae West is still saucy, all right, but there's just something of the earlier attitude and raciness that I found lacking here, and I can't quite place my finger on what that is.

Still, Belle of the Nineties isn't bad, just pedestrian. And the bare bones box set is cheap and you're getting a bunch of other good movies with it for the price.

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