I'm No Angel (1933)

Comedy | 6 October 1933

Director:

Wesley Ruggles

Writer:

Mae West

Producer:

William LeBaron

Cinematographer:

Leo Tover

Editor:

Otho Lovering

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Bernard Herzbrun

Production Company:

Paramount Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Paramount story files at the AMPAS Library reveal that Mae West authored the original treatment of the film. According to a pre-release news item in HR , Claude Binyon and Frank Butler were assigned to write the screenplay. Their contribution to the final film is undetermined. Correspondence in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that a script was submitted to the AMPP in Jun 1933, and in an interoffice memo to Will H. Hays, president of the MPPDA, from Dr. James C. Wingate, Director of Studio Relations of the AMPP, Wingate notes that the script contained no "particularly objectionable sex scenes" and "seemed to present no fundamental problem," although several songs and specific lines merited special attention. The song "No One Does It Like That Dallas Man" was rejected, and the AMPP suggested that the words "does it" be changed to "loves me." Specific lines of the song such as, "with a special whip" and "he can ride," were considered offensive, as was the entire fourth stanza of the song "They Call Me Sister Honky Tonk." The line "Baby I can arm you with this love of mine" in the song "I'm No Angel" was deemed "overly suggestive," as was the line, "It takes a good man to make me" in the song "Goin' to Town." In a Jul 1933 letter to Paramount, Wingate noted further objections to the second white script. Two lines spoken by the Barker, "She'd give the old biological urge to a Civil War veteran" and "The girl that makes your dreams come true" were deemed unacceptable. Further suggested changes included "Delete the world 'French' from the line, ... More Less

Paramount story files at the AMPAS Library reveal that Mae West authored the original treatment of the film. According to a pre-release news item in HR , Claude Binyon and Frank Butler were assigned to write the screenplay. Their contribution to the final film is undetermined. Correspondence in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that a script was submitted to the AMPP in Jun 1933, and in an interoffice memo to Will H. Hays, president of the MPPDA, from Dr. James C. Wingate, Director of Studio Relations of the AMPP, Wingate notes that the script contained no "particularly objectionable sex scenes" and "seemed to present no fundamental problem," although several songs and specific lines merited special attention. The song "No One Does It Like That Dallas Man" was rejected, and the AMPP suggested that the words "does it" be changed to "loves me." Specific lines of the song such as, "with a special whip" and "he can ride," were considered offensive, as was the entire fourth stanza of the song "They Call Me Sister Honky Tonk." The line "Baby I can arm you with this love of mine" in the song "I'm No Angel" was deemed "overly suggestive," as was the line, "It takes a good man to make me" in the song "Goin' to Town." In a Jul 1933 letter to Paramount, Wingate noted further objections to the second white script. Two lines spoken by the Barker, "She'd give the old biological urge to a Civil War veteran" and "The girl that makes your dreams come true" were deemed unacceptable. Further suggested changes included "Delete the world 'French' from the line, 'A set of French postcards'...makes the whole subject too suggestive. The following lines 'You'll like what I've got in mind,' 'I'm always wonderful at night,' and 'but when I'm bad I'm better' should be deleted." On the basis of another suggestion, the song "Take Me" was retitled "I Want You, I Need You."
       In Sep 1933, the AMPP viewed the film and was "happy to notice the care with which the picture had been treated from the standpoint both of the Code, and of censorship." Although there were several items that the AMPP felt might be questioned by censor boards, the film was considered acceptable, and in a letter from Dr. Wingate to Will Hays, Wingate noted that "though it contained the expected number of wise-cracks and Mae Westisms, we believe it will meet with no real difficulty." A letter dated Oct 1933 notes that "the songs have been toned down, and while many of the gags border on questionable dialogue, the fadeouts are so arranged, that most of the suggestions are left to the imagination...and I am sure, her line, 'How am I doin!' and 'When I'm good I'm good, but when I am bad I'm better,' will become as famous, as the 'C'm up some time'[sic]." In Oct 1935 the film was reevaluated by the AMPP, and in a letter to Paramount, Joseph I. Breen, director of the PCA, noted that he considered the picture "so thoroughly in violation of the Production Code that we desire to recommend, again, as in the case of the picture She Done Him Wrong (see below), that [Paramount] withdraw [their] application for the approval of this picture by the Production Code Administration." In an interoffice memo from Breen to Hays, Breen notes that the AMPP reviewed both She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel and, finding them in violation of the Production Code, deemed it "utterly impossible" for them to issue a certificate of approval. Breen further commented that "with regard to I'm No Angel , note please that this is one of the pictures which was placed in Class 2 at the time we were discussing the advisability of withdrawing certain pictures which were believed to be offensive....Class 2...according to our understanding, means that the contracts for the sale of the picture, were to be concluded, and that the picture was then to be withdrawn...the pictures were to be re-submitted 'and successful effort' made to 'cause them to be entirely unobjectionable under the Production Code' and 'if this be not possible, then the pictures are to be entirely withdrawn.' It is our judgment that no successful effort can be made to cause them to be entirely unobjectionable under the Production Code."
       In 1949 the film was evaluated again, and Breen noted in a letter that if they made "some judicious cuts in the film, [it] would bring it within the strictly technical provisions of the Code....No good will accrue to the industry among right-thinking people with a release of a Mae West picture. On the contrary, it would appear to me that we would expose ourselves to the charge that we were 'letting down the bars;' that we were again making 'filthy pictures' as was the charge levelled against the industry, from a thousand sources, back in 1933-34." I'm No Angel was one of the top money-making films of 1933. HR news items note that Laura Treadwell was slated to appear in the film. According to a modern source, it had a gross earning of $2,250,000 on the North American continent, with over a million more earned internationally. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Jul 33
p. 2.
Film Daily
14 Oct 33
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 33
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 33
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 33
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
9 Sep 33
p. 30.
Motion Picture Herald
7 Oct 33
p. 38.
New York Times
14 Oct 33
p. 18.
Variety
17 Oct 33
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story, scr and all dial
Suggestions by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SOUND
Rec eng
Rec eng
SOURCES
SONGS
"I Want You-I Need You," words by Ben Ellison, music by Harvey Brooks
"They Call Me Sister Honky-Tonk," "That Dallas Man," "I Found a New Way to Go to Town" and "I'm No Angel," words by Gladys duBois and Ben Ellison, music by Harvey Brooks.
DETAILS
Release Date:
6 October 1933
Production Date:
July--September 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 October 1933
Copyright Number:
LP4166
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Tira works as a dancer and occasional lion tamer for a circus, but her greatest pleasure in life is in her liaisons with wealthy men. During one of her dances, she makes eye contact with a gentleman wearing a huge diamond ring. He later joins her in her hotel room for a nightcap but is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Slick Wiley, a pickpocket who thinks of himself as Tira's "man." Slick knocks the gentleman unconscious and steals his ring but later is arrested and thrown in jail. The circus owner offers to lend Tira money for a lawyer to avoid prosecution on condition that she put her head in a lion's mouth as part of a new act to tour major cities. Tira agrees and becomes the star attraction, gaining fame and wealth from her success. Various society patrons visit Tira backstage, among them Kirk Lawrence and his fiancée Alicia Hatton. Alicia is disdainful of Tira, but Kirk becomes infatuated with her, and a whirlwind romance ensues, with Kirk lavishing expensive gifts on Tira. Kirk's friend and associate Jack Barton calls on Tira to ask her to give up her relationship with Kirk on Alicia's behalf. Tira agrees and she and Jack fall seriously in love. One night after his release from jail, Slick enters Tira's penthouse and pretends to be her lover when Jack arrives. Jack calls off his engagement to Tira, who, unaware of Slick's ruse, sues Jack for breach of contract. Tira represents herself in court and proves to all concerned that she is a respectable woman and deserves substantial payment for damages. Realizing ... +


Tira works as a dancer and occasional lion tamer for a circus, but her greatest pleasure in life is in her liaisons with wealthy men. During one of her dances, she makes eye contact with a gentleman wearing a huge diamond ring. He later joins her in her hotel room for a nightcap but is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Slick Wiley, a pickpocket who thinks of himself as Tira's "man." Slick knocks the gentleman unconscious and steals his ring but later is arrested and thrown in jail. The circus owner offers to lend Tira money for a lawyer to avoid prosecution on condition that she put her head in a lion's mouth as part of a new act to tour major cities. Tira agrees and becomes the star attraction, gaining fame and wealth from her success. Various society patrons visit Tira backstage, among them Kirk Lawrence and his fiancée Alicia Hatton. Alicia is disdainful of Tira, but Kirk becomes infatuated with her, and a whirlwind romance ensues, with Kirk lavishing expensive gifts on Tira. Kirk's friend and associate Jack Barton calls on Tira to ask her to give up her relationship with Kirk on Alicia's behalf. Tira agrees and she and Jack fall seriously in love. One night after his release from jail, Slick enters Tira's penthouse and pretends to be her lover when Jack arrives. Jack calls off his engagement to Tira, who, unaware of Slick's ruse, sues Jack for breach of contract. Tira represents herself in court and proves to all concerned that she is a respectable woman and deserves substantial payment for damages. Realizing he was set-up, Jack agrees to the settlement. Later he and Tira reaffirm their love for each other. +

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

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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.