Goin’ To Town (1935)

  “Don’t think I worked in Tijuana for nothing.”

goin-to-townGoin’ to Town is one of Mae West’s funnier films. She plays Cleo Borden–a former saloon girl who strikes it rich after the death of her fiance, Buck Gonzales (Fred Kohler). Cleo takes over Buck’s cattle and oil empire with gusto, but is attracted to British oil engineer, Edward Carrington (Paul Cavanagh). She tries one trick after another to get his attention, but he says he’s not interested–confiding in a workmate that she’s “rather crude oil.” But when he leaves for business in Buenos Aires, Cleo follows in hot pursuit.

Once in Buenos Aires, Cleo sets out to impress Carrington that she’s a ‘lady’, and this results in several high society scenes at the casino and the racetrack. Cleo later moves back to the East Coast, and tries to impress the upper class snob set there.

The role of Cleo Borden permits Mae West to poke a little fun at herself. Men surround her, as usual, but while Cleo claims she wants to be a lady, she doesn’t really make a big effort, and flaunts her rough edges. She also takes her usual swagger and bad grammar to the snobby women in upper class circles. She’s asked by the snob set: “have your ancestors ever been traced?” She replies: “Yes, but they were too smart. They couldn’t catch ’em.” Pursued by a slimy Russian fortune hunter, Cleo shows that being a lady isn’t about snobby airs and listing one’s ancestors. It’s all about how you treat other people.

Mae West sings, Now I’m a Lady, and in another scene, she shoves around her opera coach right before playing Delilah and singing Mon Coeur S’Ouvre a Ta Voix for her snobby society guests. The main man, Carrington, seems a bit of a limp rag for Cleo (she’d get bored and throw him aside within the month), but the pursuit is the thing here, and she’s even ready, willing and able to lasso her man if that’s what it takes. The film includes some great snappy, saucy lines, and Mae West is at her funny, brassy best: “You’re alright to play around with, but as a husband you’d get in my hair.” From director Alexander Hall.

“I’m a good woman for a bad man.”

“Marriage…that’d be a whole new kind of racket for me.”

“Well, I’m a woman of very few words, but lots of action.”

“Judge, wherever there’s a man concerned, I always do my best.”

“I”m gonna take a shot at this lady business.”

“Dont lose your temper, or I’ll help you find it.”

“Take it easy honey, you’ll last longer.”

Songs:

He’s a Bad Man

Now I’m a Lady

Love is Love

Mon Coeur S’Oeuvre a Ta Voix

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