Belle of the Nineties

Belle of the Nineties (1934) is Mae West's fourth motion picture, directed by Leo McCarey and released by Paramount Pictures. The film was based on West's original story It Ain't No Sin, which was also to be the film's title until censors objected. Johnny Mack Brown, Duke Ellington, and Katherine DeMille are also in the cast. Shooting commenced on March 19, 1934, and concluded in June. The film was released on September 21, 1934. It had a domestic (U.S.) gross of $2,000,000. As usual with West's films, some scenes were removed for versions to be shown in different states. To be shown in New York, one of the biggest markets, they had to completely re-shoot the final scene.[2] Mae West's character and the Tiger Kid were originally to complete their nuptials without a marriage ceremony; the ceremony had to be included.

Belle of the Nineties
Directed byLeo McCarey
Produced byWilliam LeBaron
Written byMae West
Music byArthur Johnston
CinematographyKarl Struss
Edited byLeRoy Stone
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 21, 1934 (1934-09-21)
Running time
75 minutes
Budget$800,000 (estimated)[1]

A publicity stunt went awry when 50 parrots were trained to shout the original title of "It Ain't No Sin". The parrots were subsequently released in the jungles of South America, still repeating "it ain't no sin" over and over again.[3] Sheet music of the song "My American Beauty" was also printed with the film's original title, and corrected with a rubber stamp.



The male lead was supposed to be played by George Raft, but he refused.[4] His part was taken by Roger Pryor, a stage actor.[5]

Box Office

The film was a box office disappointment for Paramount.[6]


  1. "Box office / business for Belle of the Nineties". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  2. Tuska, Jon (1975). The Films of Mae West. Secaucus: Citadel Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-8065-0502-8.
  3. A Woman at War: Marlene Dietrich Remembered, p. 28, at Google Books
  4. Schallert, E. (1934, Feb 05). "Frances Drake and Jean Muir, Younger Recruits, Being Groomed for Bright Stardom." Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  5. "George Raft Refuses Part In Mae West Film". The West Australian. 50 (9, 936). Western Australia. 4 May 1934. p. 3. Retrieved 27 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  6. By, D. W. (1934, Nov 25). "Taking a Look at the Record". New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

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