Mae West’s opera, Belle of the Nineties, is as ten-twent-thirt as its mauve decade time and locale. The melodramatics are put on a bit thick, including the arch-villain who is an arch-renegade, a would-be murderer, a welcher, an arsonist and everything else in the book of ye good old-time mellers.
The original songs by Sam Coslow and Arthur Johnston are ‘My Old Flame’, ‘American Beauty’ and ‘Troubled Waters’. Duke Ellington’s nifty jazzique is a natural for the Westian song delivery.
Just like she makes stooges of almost anybody assigned to bandy talk with her, West dittoes with her principal support, including Roger Pryor, the fave vis-a-vis, John Mack Brown as the good time Charlie, and John Miljan, a villyun of darkest mien. Katherine DeMille as the spurned gambler’s sweetheart looks better and suggests better opportunities than the prima facie script accords her.