Belle of the Nineties (1934, Leo McCarey)

Just as narratively complicated as The Strawberry Blonde but with 100% less weight – a fluffy Mae West comedy written by a fluffy Mae West and directed by McCarey, who could surely handle this after dealing with the Marx brothers in Duck Soup. Mae gets all the attention, massive hats, punchlines and glamorous lighting, and there’s nothing else to say about the filmmaking – except for one amazing scene. She has given a few bucks to her maid Libby Taylor (also Mae’s maid in I’m No Angel), who goes down to a musical prayer meeting at the river while Mae stands in her window above the river singing her own song – as the songs collide and blend, so do the visuals.

Anyway the plot is ridiculous – Mae likes a boxer (Roger Pryor, son of bandleader Arthur) but pretends to dump him during training and moves to New Orleans where she continues her hit stage show of standing silently in huge costumes subtly moving her hips to rapturous applause (she also sings sometimes). The boxer comes to N.O. to fight the champ, and Mae’s promoter (professional mustachioed villain John Miljan) is ripping her off. Mae spikes her boyfriend’s water, causing him to lose the fight and ruining Miljan financially – then as his theater burns down, the boxer kills Miljan, and somehow all this is okay and they end up together.

There’s also a rich beau, a damsel in distress, and Duke Ellington, who appears on piano but wrote none of the songs. We didn’t know what instrument Duke plays or what he looks like, so weren’t even sure that he was in the movie.

Wikipedia: “A publicity stunt went awry when 50 parrots were trained to shout the original title of It Ain’t No Sin. The parrots were subsequently released in the jungles of South America still repeating ‘it ain’t no sin’ over and over again.”