Raoul Walsh says in his biography that Mae West arrived often late on the set. Ernst Lubitsch, who was producer, had a severe argument with her because of this situation. She suddenly became berserk and hit him with a mirror. And continued to arrive late on the set, only to piss Lubitsch off. See more »
In the earlier days of Mae West's career, she made a huge name for herself on Broadway. Her shows were very popular...and were perhaps made MORE popular after she was arrested for lewdness for this act! Hollywood during the early 1930s jumped at the opportunity to bring West out west....because in this Pre-Code era, pretty much anything went in films...and West's bawdy humor was perfect. However, bowing to public pressure in mid-1934, a much tougher Production Code was put into effect--and banned all sorts of illicit content. In other words, the new Code pretty much eliminated most of West's appeal! And in her films from 1934 and later, her humor was essentially neutered...and this explains why she really never made that many films. The double entendres and risque plots simply were unfilmable in this Code era...and the few films she did make after this time were pretty dull by comparison.
In the case of "Klondike Annie", Mae cannot be the old Mae at all. She is still seen by men, inexplicably, as a sex symbol...but she's now a sex symbol without that sharp tongue that made her so funny. And, in the case of "Klondike Annie", the film was so neutered that it had little edge at all. Imagine....Mae playing a missionary, of sorts, in rough, tough gold rush era Alaska!
When the story begins, Rose (West) is a performer who is essentially being held prisoner by her evil boss. In desperation, she kills him and runs--hitching a ride on a ship heading to Alaska. But, because it was a Code film, you never see the killing (it was removed from the finished print) and this made the story a bit confusing.
After a missionary on the cargo boat dies on the way to her job in Alaska, Rose poses as Annie in order to avoid the police....and the captain helps her. After all, like most men in these films, he's smitten with her and the plan is for her to disappear from the mission sooner or later...though it ends up being much later than she anticipated.
While I was never a big fan of Mae West, I must admit that her post-Code pictures were mostly a sad lot. This one just seemed all wrong for her and her persona...especially when the stuff she's preaching as a missionary comes to actually change her into a good woman! It's just hard to imagine this sort of thing...and the film suffers from this and is simply too 'nice' for West.
By the way, late in the film, a Chinese man tosses an ax at Mae...and you can clearly see it's actually on a string!
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