Go West Young Man (1936)

80 or 82 mins | Comedy | 13 November 1936

Director:

Henry Hathaway

Writer:

Mae West

Cinematographer:

Karl Struss

Editor:

Ray Curtiss

Production Designer:

Wiard B. Ihnen

Production Company:

Major Pictures Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

An early script title for this film was Personal Appearance , the title of the play on which the picture was based. The Broadway production of Personal Appearance had over 500 performances. Elizabeth Patterson also played the part of Aunt Kate in the stage production. According to a news item in the NYT on 1 Mar 1936, while Mae West negotiated for the rights to the play (for which the play's producer, Brock Pemberton, was reportedly asking $100,000), the play was being banned unofficially in Hollywood because of its "lampooning theme." Production for Go West Young Man lasted forty days. A news item in the NYT on 1 Mar 1936 states that Mae West said she planned to go to Columbia Pictures with Emanuel Cohen, even though Paramount declared it had exercised its option and wanted West to make two more pictures with the studio--one to start 1 Apr and the second to start 1 Jul 1936. According to letters in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Columbia Pictures had at one time considered making the film and made a formal query to the Hays Office to see if the play had been banned. The Office responded that the play had not gone through "official formula" but that many member company presidents and motion picture exhibitors were against a film which "might cast adverse reflection on the private lives of motion picture stars." According to MPPDA letters, Columbia producer Irving Briskin agreed and decided to forgo making the film.
       According to a news item in FD in Apr 1936, Cohen, formerly the head of ... More Less

An early script title for this film was Personal Appearance , the title of the play on which the picture was based. The Broadway production of Personal Appearance had over 500 performances. Elizabeth Patterson also played the part of Aunt Kate in the stage production. According to a news item in the NYT on 1 Mar 1936, while Mae West negotiated for the rights to the play (for which the play's producer, Brock Pemberton, was reportedly asking $100,000), the play was being banned unofficially in Hollywood because of its "lampooning theme." Production for Go West Young Man lasted forty days. A news item in the NYT on 1 Mar 1936 states that Mae West said she planned to go to Columbia Pictures with Emanuel Cohen, even though Paramount declared it had exercised its option and wanted West to make two more pictures with the studio--one to start 1 Apr and the second to start 1 Jul 1936. According to letters in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Columbia Pictures had at one time considered making the film and made a formal query to the Hays Office to see if the play had been banned. The Office responded that the play had not gone through "official formula" but that many member company presidents and motion picture exhibitors were against a film which "might cast adverse reflection on the private lives of motion picture stars." According to MPPDA letters, Columbia producer Irving Briskin agreed and decided to forgo making the film.
       According to a news item in FD in Apr 1936, Cohen, formerly the head of Paramount, had been producing for Columbia and planned to independently produce eight pictures a year for three years for Major Pictures Corp. to be released through Paramount. As reported in contemporary sources, Go West Young Man was the first Major Pictures production and marked the beginning of West's contract with Major. Major Pictures completely rebuilt the General Service Studio in Hollywood, and this was the first picture shot on the new lot. Although West's character is listed in the screen credits as "Mavis," she is definitely called "Marvis" in the film. Several reviews refer to Lyle Talbot's character as Francis X. O'Hennessy, although the film calls him Harrigan. Isabel Jewell does an imitation of Marlene Dietrich in this film. A MPH review of this film states that "Miss West...enjoys an immunity from the...Production Code" and DV reports that "for all its broad lines and its calculated entertainment vulgarity, the picture doesn't overstep the bounds of offensiveness within the censorial permissions." Joseph I. Breen, Director of the Studio Relations Office of the AMPP, disagreed. According to the MPPDA files, Breen approved the film, allowing that it contained "little that is reasonably censorable," only after numerous admonitions to Cohen against including objectionable dialogue and situations.
       Additional letters in the MPPDA file on this film relate the following information: On 3 Jun 1936, DV reported that the Hays Office had "given its blessing to [the] script of Personal Appearance ," with one change: Mavis Arden must not be married to her producer, as she was in the stage play. In response to the announcement, Breen wrote to both the editor of Var and to Cohen denouncing the statement. To Var , he said that "no such approval has been given to any script based upon this stage play." To Cohen, he outlined five major reasons why the script was not approved: 1) the character of Benjamin Z. Fineberg, the Jewish producer (he must "not be so definitely characterized as Jewish" and must "not be played as a Gregory Ratoff type") [Ratoff was often typecast as a Russian or Eastern European, with a heavy accent.] 2) the characterization of Mavis as a "promiscuous woman" 3) "the suggestion that her purpose in going after Bud is to seduce him" 4) "the numerous double-meaning lines throughout" 5) "the business of the hay in the barn" (a garage must be used, not a barn, and there must be no suggestion of hay). In addition, the "daringly cut gown" called for in the script had to be eliminated. In later memos, Breen merely advised Cohen to exercise care in filming the negligee, warning that "intimate parts of the body must be fully covered at all times. This has particular reference to the breasts." The character of Fineberg was cut; Mavis' producer became "A. K. Greenfield," and was only referred to in the film and never shown on screen. Mavis does position herself in a bale of hay while flirting with Bud, but the scene takes place outside. Much of what Breen objected to made it into the film, however. A few states and countries censored certain lines, but the seduction element and several low-cut dresses made it into the general release print. Breen had wanted the whole woods speech deleted, but it made it into the film: Mavis: "And I thought she was a simple country girl." Morgan: "She was. That was her undoing! They're just babes--babes in the woods." Mavis: "Yeah, well they should have kept out of the woods." Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts and Alberta censors all objected to parts of the speech, and the last sentence was the only line in the film to which Chicago censors objected. The film itself was not without its own comment on censorship; a line of dialogue originally in the script read, "You know how they censor pictures in Illinois," but Breen altered it to read, "You know how they censor pictures these days ."
       According to a press release, West discovered Nicodemus Stewart in Cab Calloway's orchestra and was instrumental in casting him in this production, his first film. In the film, Nicodemus is Bud Norton's assistant. Hoping to get an audition with Morgan, Nicodemus re-enacts Paul Revere's ride, gathering the townspeople to interrupt Mavis, who is trying to seduce Bud, for autographs. According to a HR news item, as a publicity stunt, Paramount planned to pick eight bachelors from eight Eastern cities, selected through local theaters and newspapers, to come to Hollywood, where they would vacation for eight days as Mae West's guests. A HR news item announced West's personal appearances in Chicago and possibly New York to publicize this film. Victor Shapiro, Major Pictures' Publicity Director, accompanied West on her publicity tour. MPH ran four consecutive back cover ads for this film beginning 17 Oct 1936. One ad used a "Down on the Farm with Mae West" motif, featuring farm characters depicted in a nursery rhyme, including: "This is the pig that moped all day because it couldn't swing like Mae." Ads for this film also used a "Variety is the spice of life" motif. An article in the NYT on 15 Nov 1936 paraphrases Randolph Scott's comments on Mae West, stating, "Miss West is idolized by the technical crews in the studios, she is so thoughtful of them....her Negro maid wept bitterly during the production because she (the maid) was sick and unable to go to the studio." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Jun 36
p. 1.
Daily Variety
3 Nov 36
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Apr 36
p. 1.
Film Daily
6 Nov 36
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 36
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 36
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 36
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 36
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 36
pp. 5-12.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 37
p. 6.
Motion Picture Daily
4 Nov 36
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Oct 36
p. 40, back cover.
Motion Picture Herald
7 Nov 36
pp. 37-40.
Motion Picture Herald
14 Nov 36
p. 60.
New York Times
1 Mar 1936.
---
New York Times
18 Oct 1936.
---
New York Times
15 Nov 1936.
---
New York Times
19 Nov 36
p. 31.
Variety
25 Nov 36
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Emanuel Cohen Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Pub dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Personal Appearance by Lawrence Riley, as presented by Brock Pemberton and Antoinette Perry (New York, 17 Oct 1934).
SONGS
"On a Typical, Tropical Night," "Go West Young Man" and "I Was Sayin' to the Moon," music by Arthur Johnston, lyrics by John Burke.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Personal Appearance
Release Date:
13 November 1936
Production Date:
early August--29 September 1936 at General Service Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
13 November 1936
Copyright Number:
LP6734
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80 or 82
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2788
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

While on tour in Washington, D. C. to promote her film, Drifting Lady , glamorous movie star Mavis Arden charms her public, giving the appearance of a demure woman, instead of the prurient and temperamental person she really is. While Mavis discreetly dines with her old flame, Francis X. Harrigan, who is running for Congress, her press agent, Morgan, calls the press in to interrupt the rendezvous, hoping to create a scandal for the politician so that he will lose interest in Mavis. Mavis gives them an impromptu speech about the country needing more marriages, which appears in the papers the next day. Harrigan is about to write a rebuttal, when his friend, Andy Kelton, calls Harrigan's interview with Mavis the cleverest political maneuver he has ever made, certain that he will win the votes of every spinster in the country. Harrigan is now more determined than ever to meet Mavis at her next stop, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Because a clause in Mavis' contract with Superfine Pictures, Inc. forbids her to marry for five years, she is "very susceptible" to the affections of men, and it is Morgan's job to be sure she is not tempted. Resuming her tour, Mavis is held over in a small town ninety miles outside Harrisburg when her customized Rolls Royce breaks down. Although anxious to meet Harrigan, Mavis soon turns her attentions to Bud Norton, her car mechanic, admiring his "large and sinewy muscles." Bud, however, is engaged to Joyce, whose once-prominent family runs "The Haven," a quaint boardinghouse where Mavis stays. Despite Morgan's efforts to keep Mavis from Bud, she seduces him in the boardinghouse parlor while ... +


While on tour in Washington, D. C. to promote her film, Drifting Lady , glamorous movie star Mavis Arden charms her public, giving the appearance of a demure woman, instead of the prurient and temperamental person she really is. While Mavis discreetly dines with her old flame, Francis X. Harrigan, who is running for Congress, her press agent, Morgan, calls the press in to interrupt the rendezvous, hoping to create a scandal for the politician so that he will lose interest in Mavis. Mavis gives them an impromptu speech about the country needing more marriages, which appears in the papers the next day. Harrigan is about to write a rebuttal, when his friend, Andy Kelton, calls Harrigan's interview with Mavis the cleverest political maneuver he has ever made, certain that he will win the votes of every spinster in the country. Harrigan is now more determined than ever to meet Mavis at her next stop, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Because a clause in Mavis' contract with Superfine Pictures, Inc. forbids her to marry for five years, she is "very susceptible" to the affections of men, and it is Morgan's job to be sure she is not tempted. Resuming her tour, Mavis is held over in a small town ninety miles outside Harrisburg when her customized Rolls Royce breaks down. Although anxious to meet Harrigan, Mavis soon turns her attentions to Bud Norton, her car mechanic, admiring his "large and sinewy muscles." Bud, however, is engaged to Joyce, whose once-prominent family runs "The Haven," a quaint boardinghouse where Mavis stays. Despite Morgan's efforts to keep Mavis from Bud, she seduces him in the boardinghouse parlor while he demonstrates his movie sound machine, which she promises to promote in Hollywood. Joyce is heart-broken, and her aunt Kate, a spinster, advises her to fight for her man before he leaves for Hollywood. Meanwhile, Harrigan tries to reach Mavis by telephone and, while waiting on the line, he hears one of the operators reading aloud a newspaper headline about a kidnapping; Harrigan mistakenly concludes that Mavis has been kidnapped. Gladys, The Haven's star-struck maid, hears about Mavis' kidnapping on the radio and, believing that Morgan is her captor, calls the police. The next day, when Morgan tells Mavis that Joyce is pregnant, Mavis tells Bud, who has already packed a suitcase, that her affection for him was just "a mad, mad whim," only to find out later that Morgan was lying. When the police arrive with Harrigan and Gladys to arrest the alleged kidnapper, Mavis, furious with Morgan for endlessly meddling in her love affairs, and believing that he staged the incident as a joke, allows the police to arrest him. Morgan then confesses that his real reason for interfering was his own love for Mavis. Driving away with a police escort, Mavis and Morgan kiss. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.