Mae West wrote the screenplay for this elaborate production about a con woman named Peaches O’Day. It’s not the best of her 1930’s movies but it’s still fun. The drawback is the miscasting of Lloyd Nolan as a crooked police commissioner. He doesn’t ring true in the comedic role. There are several huge production numbers along the way.
New York. New Year’s Eve 1899. Police Chief John Quade (Lloyd Nolan) orders his men to arrest Peaches O’Day (Mae West) on sight. Captain McCarey (Edmund Lowe) refuses. Meanwhile Peaches is on her way back to town. She’s riding in a carriage when she passes one of those newfangled horseless carriages. It’s being driven by Larmadou Graves. They exchange business cards. Peaches is up to her old tricks as she sells a naive man named Fritz the Brooklyn Bridge for two hundred dollars.
The head of the city’s Reform Committe is the multi millionaire Van Doon. Graves is his butler. Peaches goes to the address on the card. It’s the huge mansion owned by Van Doon. Van Doon is upset that a woman is in his house. Then he gets a look at her. He says Graves is his secretary. The three become pals and go out on the town.
Peaches former show biz manager Nifty Bailey proposes putting her in a new show. She says she can’t be seen on stage because she’ll be arrested. He decides to have her pose as a French actress. Van Doon puts up the money for the show. Peaches is put on a boat for Boston by McCarey. That fits right in with her plans.
She returns to town as Mademoiselle Fifi complete with black wig and French accent. The show opens and Quade is there with some of his stooges. McCarey is also in the audience. There’s an elaborate production number that features Peaches singing with the French accent. McCarey’s not fooled but keeps quiet.
Quade is smitten and sends lots of flowers. He wants to see her in the dressing room but she refuses. He orders McCarey to close the theater down as a fire hazard. He refuses and even goes to take a poke at Quade. He ends up giving him his badge.
Still disguised as Fifi, Peaches goes to Quade’s office to make peace. She orders him to get champagne. While she has the office to herself she steals some criminal records, including her own from the file cabinet. Later in her dressing room McCarey stops in and she drops the Fifi act. Then Quade comes in and orders McCarey out. Now he sees that Fifi is really peaches and McCary throws him out.
Peaches comes up with an idea to make McCarey the reform candidate for Mayor. His opponent is Quade. There’s more fun to come including Louis Armstrong performing “Jubilee.”
There are better Mae West movies to see first but don’t forget this one.