“When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad… I’m better!”
An upwardly mobile, flirtatious carnival dancer (Mae West) falls in love with a wealthy businessman (Cary Grant), but must defend her seemingly unsavory past.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Carnivals and Circuses
- Cary Grant Films
- Cross-Class Romance
- Mae West Films
- Social Climbers
Along with She Done Him Wrong (1932), I’m No Angel is notorious as one of the films that finally put Hollywood’s self-appointed morality police over the edge, leading to much more stringent guidelines about what was permissible on screen. Indeed, with a script written by the inimitably salacious Mae West, one would expect nothing less than a series of barely-concealed sexual zingers — and that’s pretty much what you get here:
Grant: You were wonderful tonight.
West: I’m always wonderful at night.
West (to Grant, after refusing his money): You’ve got a lot of other things it takes to make a woman happy.
Unfortunately, as enjoyably giggle-worthy as these innuendos are, they aren’t enough to sustain the paper-thin plot, which is based on the wholly preposterous notion that West’s sexual allure is enough to turn nearly every able-bodied man she meets to mush (talk about giggle-worthy!). This one is purely a vehicle for West to demonstrate her exaggerated sense of narcissistic self-worth — but film fanatics curious to get a taste of West would be better off watching her in a more involving vehicle.
Note: I’m No Angel is also notable as the film in which West quips the infamous line “Beulah, peel me a grape” to her maid (Gertrude Howard).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Some fun gowns
- Plenty of typically zingy West-ian retorts and one-liners:
Nigel de Brulier (as Rajah the Fortune Teller): I see a man in your life.
West: What? Only one?
No; despite its historical relevance, this isn’t among West’s best films, and is only must-see for her admirers. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.