Tira (Mae West) is a sideshow singer at Big Bill Barton's (Edward
Arnold) circus who lives a very promiscuous lifestyle and loves receiving
gifts from men - much to the dismay of Slick (Ralf Harolde), a
professional pickpocket who travels with the circus because he's Big
Bill's pal and who thinks Tira is his girlfriend. When Tira receives
another of her gentleman friends, Ernest Brown (William
B.Davidson), in her appartment one day, Slick rushes in, gets into a fight
with Brown - who thinks the whole thing is a set-up -, knocks him out and
thinks he has killed him ... it's not quite as bad though, however Brown,
once revived calls the police who soon arrest Slick after one of Brown's
rings is found with him.
Tira now manages she's in a jam, and she persuades Big Bill to let her
do a lion-taming number during which she puts her head in a lion's mouth
in exchange for - you guessed it - much-needed money ...
Tira the liontamer becomes a raving success, especially with the men,
and especially with rich Kirk Lawrence (Kirk Taylor), who soon showers her
with presents and neglects his fiancée (Gertrude Michael) in her favour.
But when he also starts to neglect his business, his lawyer Jack Clayton
(Cary Grant) is alarmed and he decides to talk Tira out of his client ...
and promptly Tira and Clayton fall in love, and for real too, and soon
they decide to marry, and Tira tells Bill she'll quit the circus - to
Bill's dismay because she always was his main attraction ...
Then Slick gets out of prison, and he and Bill cook up a scheme to make
Clayton break up with Tira, which actually works ... but Tira is not one
to give up on a man easily, so she and her lawyer (Gregory Ratoff) take
Clayton to court for breach of contract.
The trial seems to be a lost cause for Tira right from the beginning,
since Clayton's lawyer (Irving Pichel) builds his case exclusively on
Tira's loose mores and promiscuity ... but Tira decides to question each
and every witness herself - among them Ernest Brown, Slick, Kirk Lawrence
and even her own maid (Gertrude Howard) -, and with her unique attitude
she manages to turn the case to her favour, until ultimately Clayton gives
up ... and comes back to her because he realizes he still loves her like
As a film, I'm No Angel, Mae West's second film as
screenwriter/lead actress, is much more coherent as its predecessor She
Done Him Wrong: It has a stringent plot, gives more room to costar
Cary Grant and has way higher production values. That said though, in this
film like the first one, the main attraction is Mae West, her perfect
delivery of her witty dialogue is just priceless, her sexy walk and
alluring gestures are hard to resist, and her handling of what is
essentially a bad-girl-role is ahead of its time - even today.
By the way: Mae West was not doubled in her lion taming scene, which
can be seen in the many shots that have her and the lions in the same
picture, and at times she even touches one of them. However, when she puts
her head in the lion's mouth, this was done by a camera trick, and not a
very convincing one, either.