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Belle of the Nineties

(1934 b 73')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Mae West wrote this witty story about an entertainer who loves men and jewelry.

Ruby Carter (Mae West) is presented as "My American Beauty." Manager Kirby (James Donlan) complains that his boxer Tiger Kid (Roger Pryor) is staying out late with Ruby. Tiger tells Ruby he'd do anything for her. He throws Kirby an umbrella in the rain, while she calls the police. Kirby makes Tiger jealous by having someone call Ruby and pretend he knows her. Ruby gets a letter from the disappointed Tiger. Kirby calls on Ruby and asks her to let Tiger alone so he can become champion. Ruby signs a contract and goes to New Orleans.

Ace Lamont (John Miljan) brushes off Molly (Katherine DeMille), prepares a room for Ruby, and welcomes her. Ruby is joined by her maid Jasmine (Libby Taylor). Molly tells Ruby she is Ace's sweetheart. On stage Ruby sings "St. Louis Woman." Ace tells Ruby that he's wild about her; but she says she won't take him away from Molly. Ruby prefers being looked over to being overlooked. Ruby performs "My Old Flame." Brooks Claybourne (Johnny Mack Brown) sends Ruby a diamond necklace. Ruby asks Ace for a vacation; but he is jealous of Brooks and says no. Ace's boxer canceled; but he finds Tiger and Kirby. Ace tells Tiger he needs his jewels back to finance his fight. Ace drives Ruby in a carriage, and Tiger robs her necklace; but Ruby notes that Ace's ring was not taken. Ruby sees Tiger give the necklace to Ace, who puts it in his safe.

On stage Ruby sings "Memphis Blues." Molly complains to Ace that she is neglected. Tiger tells Ruby that he thinks about her and learns that she did not know the other man. Ruby says goodnight to Tiger. Brother Eben (Sam McDaniel) preaches against the devil. Ruby tells Jasmine to take a single man and leave the husbands alone. Eben sings "Pray, Children," and Ruby sings "Scandalizing My Name." Ruby asks Ace to keep her jewelry in his safe and watches the combination. Ruby goes to the boxing match with Ace. She put something in Tiger's water bottle, and he loses in the 28th round. Brooks was tipped off by Ruby and won bets. Ace tells Ruby he is cleaned out if he pays off the bets and suggests burning the place down and leaving. Ruby opens his safe and takes her jewelry, while he pours kerosene. Then Ace hits Molly and locks her in. Tiger objects that Ruby bet against him, but she reminds him that Ace gave him the water bottle. Tiger knocks out Ace, and discovers he is dead. Tiger explains to Ruby why he took her necklace. Ruby throws down a cigarette, which starts a fire. Tiger saves Molly, while Ruby nonchalantly calls the Fire Department. In the final scene Ruby marries Tiger.

Mae West's witty remarks use innuendo to get around the censors and entertain her audience, implying that sexuality is not a sin if one is honest and hurts no one.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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