Although it gets off to a slow start, Go West Young Man is one of Mae West's better Post-Code efforts for Paramount. Directed by Henry Hathaway and written by Mae West herself (from Lawrence Riley's play), Go West Young Man stars West (get it?) as temperamental film star Mavis Arden, who is at odds with her press agent, Morgan (Warren William) after falling for suave but boring politician Francis X. Harrigan (Lyle Talbot).
Things take an unexpected turn when, during an appearance tour, Mavis' chauffeured limousine breaks down on a country road, landing her at a rural guesthouse. At first, Mavis is annoyed with country life, walking through a pig pen and putting up with small-town inconveniences – that is, until she meets the stud-next-door, Bud Norton (Randolph Scott).
Needless to say, that encounter gives West the chance to don her best vamping gowns and strut her stuff. I was particularly impressed with the way she circles around Scott, checking out his butt. Later on, she manages to let her hand wander back down and pat his tush while they dance.
Even so, as a result of the now-strict Production Code enforcement West fans will have to look at her earlier films for more memorabledouble entendres. The only exchange I found provocative takes place between Mavis and Elizabeth Patterson's character, Aunt Kate Barnaby:
Mavis: “I must be going. I'm usually in bed at this hour.”
Aunt Kate: “This must be one of your off nights.”
The film's supporting cast is worth mentioning, especially Patterson (Mrs. Trumble from I Love Lucy) as the perpetual old Auntie, dishing out wise advice, and Alice Brady as the guesthouse proprietor who also happens to have the hots for the muscular-but-naïve Scott.
Curiously, instead of the usual jovial black maid West has a Frenchwoman (Alyce Ardell) as her servant in Go West Young Man. That “replacement” had nothing to do with race sensitivity, however, since among the townsfolk one finds Nicodemus (Nick Stewart), a stereotypically dumb black man who is nothing but an embarrassment to the proceedings.
Except for one bright moment at Universal, My Little Chickadee (1940), Mae West's film career was all but over after Go West Young Man. Once the censors neutered her, the actress returned to the stage. One of filmland's greatest losses.
© Danny Fortune