Night After Night finds George Raft as a former boxer now owner of a swank speakeasy who is looking to move up in class. A part Raft could really identify with considering his own humble circumstances.
In addition Raft is juggling three women, society girl Constance Cummings, former flapper Wynne Gibson, and the one and only Mae West.
Without Mae in this film, Night After Night would be just a routine film with nothing terribly special. But because Mae made her screen debut, the film has come down as a legend.
West is only on the screen for about 15 minutes of the film, but it's 15 unforgettable minutes. Raft is trying to acquire some culture and polish and hires Alison Skipworth to educate him in the finer arts. He brings her along to dinner with Constance Cummings to impress Cummings and Mae crashes the party.
When Paramount hired West they apparently did not know what to do with her. The part she has here as originally written is a supporting role. Remember she was a star on Broadway and wrote a lot of her own material. Mae persuaded the powers of Paramount to let her write her own lines and she wound up stealing the film.
As this was pre-Code the budding relationship of Mae to Skipworth shows more than a hint of lesbianism. As it was Mae West was quite the gay community icon, still is.
Without her, Night After Night is a routine, even substandard melodrama, with Mae it's a classic.
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