I'm No Angel

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I'm No Angel
I'm No Angel poster.jpg
I'm No Angel poster
Directed by Wesley Ruggles
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Mae West
Harlan Thompson
Lowell Brentano (Suggestions)[1]
Starring Mae West
Cary Grant
Gregory Ratoff
Edward Arnold
Ralf Harolde
Music by Herman Hand
Howard Jackson
Rudolph G. Kopp
John Leipold
Heinz Roemheld
Cinematography Leo Tover
Edited by Otho Lovering
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
October 6, 1933 (1933-10-06)
Running time
87 min.
Country USA
Language English
Budget $225,000 (estimated)[2]
Box office $2,850,000 (USA)[2]

I'm No Angel (1933) is Mae West's third motion picture. West received sole story and screenplay credit. A young Cary Grant plays her leading man for the second time, following She Done Him Wrong. Made pre-Code, this was one of the few Mae West movies that were not subjected to heavy censorship. The film was directed by Wesley Ruggles.


Screenshot of Mae West performing her burlesque dance in front of men

Tira (Mae West) shimmies and sings in the sideshow of Big Bill Barton's Wonder Show, while her current boyfriend, pickpocket "Slick" (Ralf Harolde), relieves her distracted audience of their valuables for Big Bill (Edward Arnold). One of the rich customers arranges a private rendezvous, during which Slick barges in and attempts to run a badger game on the customer. The customer threatens to call the cops, so Slick whacks him over the head with a bottle. Mistakenly thinking he has killed the man, Slick flees, but is caught and jailed.

Fearing that Slick will implicate her, Tira asks Big Bill for a loan to retain her lawyer, Bennie Pinkowitz (Gregory Ratoff). He agrees on condition that she does her lion taming act, which includes putting her head into the mouth of one of the beasts, promising her that it will get her (and him) to the "Big Show". It does. (West did some of her own stunts, including riding an elephant into the ring.[citation needed])

Tira's fame takes her to New York City, where wealthy Kirk Lawrence (Kent Taylor) is smitten, despite being engaged to snobbish socialite Alicia Hatton (Gertrude Michael). He showers her with expensive gifts. Kirk's friend and even richer cousin, Jack Clayton (Cary Grant), goes to see Tira to ask her to leave Kirk and his fiancée alone. He ends up falling for her himself. Tira and Jack’s romance leads to a wedding engagement.

Tira tells Big Bill she is quitting to get married. Unwilling to lose his prize act, he has Slick, recently released from prison, sneak into Tira's penthouse suite, where Jack finds him in his robe. As a result, Jack breaks off the engagement. Tira sues Jack for breach of promise. The defense tries to use her past relationships to discredit her, but the judge allows her to cross examine the witnesses herself and in doing so she wins over not only the judge and jury, but also Jack. Jack agrees to give her a big settlement check. When he goes to see her, Tira tears up the check, and the two reconcile.


I'm No Angel was released immediately after She Done Him Wrong, when Mae West was one of the nation's biggest box office attractions and its most controversial star. In the early 1930s, West's films were an important factor in saving Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy.[3] Depression era audiences responded to the fantasy rise of a woman from the wrong side of the tracks. It was the most popular movie in the US in 1933.[4]

Cary Grant and Mae West in I'm No Angel (1932), their 2nd film together.

Cary Grant starred opposite her for the second and final time; their first film together had been She Done Him Wrong. Grant remained annoyed for decades that West often took credit for his career despite the fact that he had made major films before. The smash hit Blonde Venus, starring Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant, predates She Done Him Wrong by a year even though Mae West always claimed to have discovered Grant for her film, amusingly elaborating that up until then he had only made "some tests with starlets." She would frequently claim to various reporters through the years that she spotted him as an unknown walking across a parking lot, asked who he was (nobody knew according to her story) and stated that, "If he can talk, I'll use him in my next picture." This tale remains routinely incorporated into most magazine articles about either West or Grant to this day.[citation needed]

West's ribald satire outraged moralists. Film historians cite her as one of the factors for the strict Hollywood production code that soon followed.[citation needed] The Hays Office forced a few changes, including the title of the song "No One Does It Like a Dallas Man", altered to "No One Loves Me Like a Dallas Man".[citation needed] David Niven claims, in an interview on Michael Parkinsons show, that the Hays Office changed the title, from "It ain't no Sin".



The film was Paramount's biggest hit of the year.[5]

Signature Mae West lines[edit]

  • Oh, Beulah, peel me a grape!
  • It's not the men in your life that count, it's the life in your men.
  • When I'm good I'm very good. But when I'm bad I'm better.


  • "They Call Me Sister Honky-Tonk" (1933) (uncredited)
  • "That Dallas Man" (1933) (uncredited)
    • Music by Harvey Oliver Brooks
    • Lyrics by Gladys DuBois and Ben Ellison
    • Played on a record on which Mae West sings
  • "I Found a New Way to Go to Town" (1933) (uncredited)
  • "I Want You, I Need You" (1933) (uncredited)
  • "I'm No Angel" (1933) (uncredited)
    • Music by Harvey Oliver Brooks
    • Lyrics by Gladys DuBois and Ben Ellison
    • Sung by Mae West at the end and during the closing credits


The film was nominated for the American Film Institute's 2005 list AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:

  • Tira: "Well, it's not the men in your life that counts, it's the life in your men."[6]


  1. ^ "I'm No Angel (1933): Full Credits". TCM. Turner Classic Movies, Inc. 
  2. ^ a b "Box office / business for I'm No Angel". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  3. ^ "The Year in Pictures". Variety. January 2, 1934. p. 3. Retrieved April 30, 2018. 
  4. ^ "Box Office Champions of 1933". Motion Picture Herald. February 3, 1934. p. 16. Retrieved April 30, 2018. 
  5. ^ "Box Office Champions of 1933". Motion Picture Herald. February 3, 1934. p. 16. Retrieved April 30, 2018. 
  6. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2005. Retrieved 2016-07-30. 


  • When I'm Bad, I'm Better: Mae West, Sex, and American Entertainment, by Marybeth Hamilton (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). ISBN 0-520-21094-8
  • Goodness Had Nothing to Do with It, by Mae West (Avon: 1959). ASIN B0007HCX2O
  • Mae West: A Bio-Bibliography, by Carol M. Ward (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989). ISBN 0-313-24716-1
  • The Complete Films of Mae West, by Jon Tuska (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Pub. Group, 1992). ISBN 0-8065-1359-4

External links[edit]