Written by Mae West and directed by Raoul Walsh this is a weak entry in the Mae West catalog. Her trademark sense of humor is mostly missing in this story of a bad girl gone good.
San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1890’s: Rose Carlton (Mae West) is known as the San Francisco Doll. She’s the kept woman of Chan Lo (Herbert Huber). He owns a gambling house and she’s been with him for a year. She’s had enough and wants out. Her friend Vance has arranged passage for her on a ship to Nome, Alaska. She wants to join the gold rush.
Late that night she’s forced to kill Chan Lo in self defense. She and her servant Fah Wong get aboard the Java Maid and sail off. The ship’s Captain Bull Brackett (Victor McLaglen) falls for Rose and puts her in his cabin and drops Fah Wong off in Seattle. That’s where he finds out Rose is wanted for murder.
In Vancouver Sister Annie Alden comes aboard. She’s headed to join the mission in Nome. It’s not long before Annie has a heart attack. Rose nurses her and reads the book of settlement maxims Annie gave her. She’s starting to see things differently. Annie dies.
Before docking Inspector Jack Forrest comes on board to inspect the ship and look for Rose. She changes into the role of Annie and Bull backs her up. In Nome Rose keeps her identity of Annie and runs the settlement house. Bull has his men stay in Nome and won’t sail unless Rose goes with him. He’s jealous of the budding affair between Rose and Forrest.
Forrest overhears a shouted conversation between Rose and Bull where the Captain mentions her being The Doll. Forrest is willing to give up his career for her. She has to make a choice between the two men. To complicate things further an assassin from Chan Lo’s place is in town.
You can see where it’s all headed but it’s not a satisfying ending and really needed a better wrap up. Mae sings a couple songs along the way, neither of which is memorable. Look fast for singer Gene Austin as a settlement house organist.