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4.2 out of 5 stars
Belle of the Nineties
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2002
Format: DVD
The Production Code certainly did its duty (and damage) with Mae West's films. Her lines and remarks were dramatically "toned down". If you compare this movie with its immediate Pre-Code predecessors "She Done Him Wrong" and "I'm No Angel", you'll know what I mean.
Anyway, still worthwhile to watch, West has a field day as "the flame" of both, St. Louis and New Orléans, with boxer Roger Pryor, upper-class Johnny Mack Brown and villainous casino owner John Miljan, at the top of the list of her admirers. Mae never looked so ravishing again as in this picture, in those awesome 1890s gowns designed especially for her by Paramount's top couturier Travis Banton. She also gets to sing a great deal here, mostly accompanied by a young Duke Ellington and his Orchestra.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
More spectacular than Mae's first two vehicles, BELLE OF THE NINETIES cost more that her previous starrers combined, and still reaped a huge profit. The story was written by Mae herself and it's pretty weak - although the Hays office snapped its scissors on some of her best lines. West's unique presence, and command for innuendo - which could raise laughs from the most innocuous remarks, kept the movie simmering. So did the superb Duke Ellington Orchestra which ably helped Mae through four numbers - most notably the standard to be MY OLD FLAME. Looking like an upholstered egg-timer, the star was kept on the screen front and centre throughout by astute director Leo McCarey in this William Le Baron production from 1934. For trivia buffs, the working title of this flick was IT AIN'T NO SIN - however the censors disagreed, and the title was laundered along with the risque script. Mae struts her stuff as 1890's singer Ruby Carter who gets involved with a boxer.......... Such lines as "It's better to be looked over than overlooked" and such done in her inimitable style gets the point across, even if the prudish and rather foolish Hays office thought otherwise. The rather chunky, 41 year-old star was photographed by Karl Struss and Mae never looked better on film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
One of Mae's five best films. Yes, the movie's original script was censored, but indications are that the original was much racier than even her early films (as one might expect given the production title IT AIN'T NO SIN) so it's not really any tamer than her first three films and Mae has several of her best lines, my favorite is "I'm in town - but not for good." The song numbers are the best Mae ever did in the movies. The movie also offers a rare look at "tableaux", the odd stage art popular in the 19th century of simply posing on the stage which climaxes with Mae posing as the Statue of Liberty, or as George Jean Nathan put it, The Statue of Libido.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
BELLE OF THE NINETIES was originally entitled "It Ain't no Sin". However, the censors disagreed and the result was a changed title and a laundered script. Mae is a nightclub performer who sings "My Old Flame" among other numbers with Duke Ellington's orchestra in the background; Roger Pryor is her love interest, a boxer named Tiger Kid. In one scene John Miljan goes into great detail in describing Mae's physical attributes while proposing, Mae stops him cold: "Wait a moment"! "Is this a proposal or are you takin' inventory! " Directed by Leo McCarey and photographed by Karl Struss (Mae never looked better) this is still an amusing example of West-ern humor!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 23, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Like her nearest competitors the Marx brothers and W.C. Fields, Mae West worked best in films where the logic of the plot made the least sense (as in I'M NO ANGEL where she's a lion tamer who conquers New York's society lions). In this film version of one of her stage plays, the plot is pretty sensible, which acts to its detriment. Mae doesn't get nearly as great lines as she usually does, and there's all this creaking plot machinery to establish her moral position and that of her no-good boyfriends. Still, it has great sets and costumes, and you get to hear her really cut loose with some of the best honky-tonk songs she ever got to sing in her wonderful adenoidal way, including "My Old Flame" and "Memphis Blues." Her accompaniment is by Duke Ellington and his orchestra (you even get to see them with her in one scene), which should let you know how special this score is. And Mae is, of course, always Mae.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Belle of the Nineties is a film about a stage star known all over for her gorgeous figure (Mae West). She finds her way into many lucrative relationships, but she is no dummy. Throughout her entanglements with several men including a boxer (Roger Pryor), a cheat, and a wealthy man (Johnny Mack Brown), she never loses sight of her identity.

Mae West wrote some great witty dialogue for this film, is adorned in some beautiful costumes to show off her ample figure, and sashays nonchalantly throughout.

Roger Pryor plays his character with the correct blend of masculinity and sweetness to make him the most appealing male in the film.

The music in the film was performed by Duke Ellington and his orchestra. "When a Saint Louis Woman Goes Down to New Orleans" lacks no sex appeal with its bluesy melody. "My Old Flame," a gorgeous standard, brings new depth to West's character. "Memphis Blues" features a great repore among the orchestra. "Pray Chilluns" is a stereotypically black song that segues into West singing "Troubled Waters," a song that makes one flash to Rizzo in Grease lamenting over her bad reputation.

Although this film was made after the production code went into effect (it is even prologued with a note about it), there is still some racy content. There are costumes in which West's breasts are clearly outlined, suggestive dialogue, and men with multiple lovers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Enjoyed this film begining to end. Why?
One: Mae West, truly the "Belle of the Ages". She has the talent, the charm, and the style to be risque without being vulgar and yet she was censured. Modern Hollywood garbage mouths, can you say Conyea (sic) have no clue as to what being classy is all about and yet their suppose to be talented stars.
Two: I like almost all of Johnny Mack Brown's films and he's in this one as is one of his sidekicks Fuzzy Knight, another great comedian.
Three: She wrote the script for this one after the Production Code (censorship) was put into effect yet the film grossed enough money it saved Paramount Studios from bankrupsey and she made a serious bundle for herself, all before woman's lib.
Four: Great music in the film and Duke Ellington on the piano is a pleasure to listen to.
Five: Plot is not spellbinding unless your on edge to see or hear what Miss West does next but for a 70 minute film it will keep your attention.
Six: She's Irish Catholic on her father's side and German Protestant on her mother's side, just like me.
Everything else is Mae West, Mae West, May West (Kim Kardashian eat your heart out, you have NO talent) seriously, what does she do to be remotely famous.
Viva Mae West! She should have been picked for the role of Scarlett O'Hara. I can hear her now telling Clark Gable as she stands on the stairway, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a hoot".
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
West plays a flamboyant singer Ruby Carter who after breaking up with her boxer boyfriend, takes a job singing at a fashionable club in New Orleans. She quickly becomes the object of desire for the area's male population and an object of envy and scorn by one of the females.

Mae West is splendidly dressed thoughout with over the top plumes, hat's, jewels and form fitting gowns. Despite her age and size, she's quite an eye-catcher and her charming, sex-crazed personality intrigues and delights. She also sings much loved tunes such as MY OLD FLAME and ST LOUIS WOMAN backed by Duke Ellington and his orchestra.

Mae West's one-liners and innuendos were toned-down and they were no where near as sexual as in her first starring feature SHE DONE HIM WRONG. The Production Code that came in effect at around this time was pretty strict and as a result, this film was said to have been heavily edited. Some of Mae's best lines were left out and the original title IT AIN'T NO SIN was changed to the more inoffensive BELLE OF THE NINETIES. Despite all this, BELLE OF THE NINETIES still offers some of her best dialogue and witty one-liners.

When West is asked "What type of men you prefer?". She replies "Only two. Domestic and foreign."

When John Miljan goes to greet her as she exits her boat, Mae (as usual) is surrounded by men. "Take care of these men" says Miljan. Mae adds, "Yes, give them all my address."

When one of her male admirers states "Ruby I must have you. Your golden hair, your fascinating smile, your lovely arms, your form, devine". She quickly quips "What is this a proposal or are you taking inventory?."

And even her maid get's some useful advice when West tells her "Don't let a man ever put anything over on you outside of an umbrella."

And one of her best lines "Better to be looked over than over-looked" is featured here.

The curvacious blonde is all style, all substance and originality and her lines are performed with a sexual "purr" that would have even Catwoman taking notes. BELLE OF THE NINETIES is one of Mae West's most entertaining flicks. It's blown-up, brazen and pleasurable. Just like the lady herself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Ruby Carter is drawn to the Tiger Kid, a prize fighter on his way to the top. But, when Tiger's trainer successfully plants it in Tiger's head that Ruby is cheating on him, he turns on her. Ruby is not the sort to pine for any man, so she takes a new job singing in New Orleans. But, her new employer, Ace Lamont is looking to throw over his old girlfriend for Ruby.

Ruby knows Ace is no good, and after her diamonds are stolen, she quickly realizes that it is Ace behind the theft. Ruby is nobody's fool, and she plots her revenge, but before all is said and done somebody is going to die.

This is Mae West's fourth movie, and is admittedly not her best. The music for the film was provided by the incomparable Duke Ellington, and is excellent. Mae herself is great - shining like a diamond in her excellent wardrobe, and pulling out the great one-liners that everyone seems to remember. The weakest part of the film, though, has to be the ending. After the fatal occurrence, it seems as though the writers and director did not know what to do with the story, and wrapped it up with a pretty but ill-fitting bow. If you watch it, you'll know what I mean.

But, that said, this is an enjoyable movie, and another chance to see Mae West in her prime.

(Review of Belle of the Nineties starring Mae West)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Ruby Carter is drawn to the Tiger Kid, a prize fighter on his way to the top. But, when Tiger's trainer successfully plants it in Tiger's head that Ruby is cheating on him, he turns on her. Ruby is not the sort to pine for any man, so she takes a new job singing in New Orleans. But, her new employer, Ace Lamont is looking to throw over his old girlfriend for Ruby.

Ruby knows Ace is no good, and after her diamonds are stolen, she quickly realizes that it is Ace behind the theft. Ruby is nobody's fool, and she plots her revenge, but before all is said and done somebody is going to die.

This is Mae West's fourth movie, and is admittedly not her best. The music for the film was provided by the incomparable Duke Ellington, and is excellent. Mae herself is great - shining like a diamond in her excellent wardrobe, and pulling out the great one-liners that everyone seems to remember. The weakest part of the film, though, has to be the ending. After the fatal occurrence, it seems as though the writers and director did not know what to do with the story, and wrapped it up with a pretty but ill-fitting bow. If you watch it, you'll know what I mean.

But, that said, this is an enjoyable movie, and another chance to see Mae West in her prime.

(Review of Belle of the Nineties starring Mae West)
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