New York singer and nightclub owner Lady Lou has more men friends than you can imagine. Unfortunately one of them is a vicious criminal who's escaped and is on the way to see "his" girl, not realising she hasn't exactly been faithful in his absence. Help is at hand in the form of young Captain Cummings a local temperance league leader though.
Mae West ... Lady Lou
Cary Grant ... Capt. Cummings
Owen Moore ... Chick Clark
Gilbert Roland ... Serge Stanieff
Noah Beery ... Gus Jordan
David Landau ... Dan Flynn
Rafaela Ottiano ... Russian Rita
Dewey Robinson ... Spider Kane
Rochelle Hudson ... Sally
Tammany Young ... Chuck Connors
Fuzzy Knight ... Ragtime Kelly
Grace La Rue ... Frances Kelly
Robert Homans ... Doheney
Louise Beavers ... Pearl (Lou's maid)
Mae West was a veteran of burlesque, vaudeville and the Broadway stage by the time she made her first film in 1932 at the age of 39. `She Done Him Wrong' was her second film and her first starring role in an adaptation of her smash Broadway hit `Diamond Lil'. It was a play that West had written herself and it played to packed houses on Broadway for years. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture and made Cary Grant into an instant star. Mae went on to write nine of the fourteen screenplays for films in which she was to star. Thus, all those great quotes we've heard that are attributed to her were not only said by her, but written by her as well. By 1935, she was the most highly paid woman in America. To this day, she remains one of the female stars most often imitated by female impersonators.
This film is among her best. It is full of the bawdy double entendre that became her trademark. She was the queen of sexual innuendo and suggestive dialogue and many of her lines have become part of Americana (e.g. `Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?' And, `A hard man is good to find.' And of course, `Come up and see me sometime.')
The plot of this film is simplistic and it is clearly a vehicle for her enormous talent, leading up to the now famous proposal by Cary Grant at the end of the film. Mae commands every frame of the film with her incomparable combination of sex appeal and ribald humor. Her sense of comic timing is impeccable making the funny lines she writes that much more hilarious by the snide way in which she delivers them.
Before this film, Cary Grant had appeared in half a dozen films and was building a reputation as a solid actor. However, none of his early films gave him the exposure that this film did due to its wild popularity at the time. West handpicked him for the part saying that he combined virility with the bearing of a gentleman. She wanted someone who would epitomize the now famous line, `Hello, warm, dark and handsome.' Though his role in this film is minor compared to West's, it made him a household name and a bankable star.
This classic film is a piece of film history that shouldn't be missed. I rated it a 10/10. It is among Mae West's best moments. I highly recommend it.
Though it will probably never be proved that Mae West's grandfather was black, one of the most recent biographies of her makes a good case. True or not, her persona and style are black. Listen to her repertoire of songs, firmly rooted in African-American blues traditions, as is her comic style, double entendre and entire manner - much of which she borrowed freely from black vaudeville. This is what gives her a fresh, sassy and subversive kick even today. Talk about subversive! In another film she has the inside of her traveling trunk pasted with pictures of her various lovers - for the briefest moment one can see a black prizefighter among the pictures! This in the 1930's! More controversial today are her procession of black maids - superficially denigrating roles - and yet not. Mae's relationship with her maids is often downright conspiratorial against men and the social status quo.
Yes I know she was not everybody's idea of 'beauty' but just look closely at her a moment in one scene in this film where she has her hair down - it is a very erotic and beautiful sight. And remember this is supposed to be the 1890's - an era when her figure would be far better appreciated.
I was startled by the scrupulous authenticity of the Bowery music hall set. The harsh gas lighting is wonderfully authentic and shines up from below (as one sees in Toulouse-Lautrec pictures) the chorus girls wear authentic white stockings (authentic right down to the wrinkles and snags), the crowd's costumes including prostitutes, sailors, petty thieves are also authentic in almost every detail even to the jewelry - and one of the high points of the film for me is the classic Irish tenor singing Silver Threads Among the Gold, phrasing, gestures everything just right, the chorus of singing waiters joining in, the loud little orchestra. Every time I've seen popular music hall 1890's material performed in other films there's always a tongue in cheek, 'we know better now' cynicism. Here the sentiment is 100 proof served straight - conducive to drunken teariness as it is meant to be.
Mae's stories always have this primitive 'dime novel' feel to them and it is part of their charm. Never forget, she wrote these movies! She was above all a comedian, and made sex amusing - to those who could only see sex as either evil lust or sacred matrimonial act - this was indeed subversive! For some reason, as I get older I admire and enjoy Mae West even more.
Well here it is…legendary blonde-bombshell Mae West's smash hit screen version of her smash hit stage play Diamond Lil! It is a fine film to be sure. This movie has been selected by the American Film Institute as one of the best black and white movies of all time (it has also been recognized by other organizations like-wise).
Mae is fantastic in this comedy/drama about the escapades of 'Lady Lou.' This movie was a HUGE success and saved Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy when it was released because it made so much money. It was also nominated for an Academy Award.
The movie features Cary Grant (this is the film that made him a star) and there is magic in the air when Grant and West get together. It is full of legendary Mae West one-liners. When Mae tells Cary to 'come up' and see her sometime there is electricity in the air!! Mae drips with diamonds, funny sayings (that have since became history), fabulous gowns and amusing situations.
Of course this movie is in black and white, which may make it less desirable to some people. I was a bit surprised by some of the comments here, considering the legendary, classic status of this film. It is in every way one of the ALL TIME film classics, and should be viewed as such. This is not just my opinion; it is considered one of the true classics of all time. I would definitely recommend it, as do MANY organizations! It is a wonderful showcase for one of the greatest stars of all time.
* The movie's line "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" was voted as the #26 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
* The National Legion of Decency was formed in October of 1933, six months after the release of this film. Legion officials cited Mae West and the film as one of the major reasons for the "necessity" of the organization.
* Mae West was signed by Paramount in 1931 to make a film adaptation of her stage success 'Diamond Lil'. They then spent the next two years trying to figure out a way of getting the material past the censors. The battle over 'Diamond Lil' led to the head of the Production Board, James Wingate, quitting and being replaced by the much more hardline Joseph Breen who was prompted to set up a fairly stringent and moral Production Code. In the meantime, 'Diamond Lil' transformed into the slightly watered down "She Done Him Wrong" and was one of the last films to be made before the introduction of the Production Code.
* Shot in approximately three weeks.
* The only Mae West film to receive an Academy Award nomination.
* At 66 minutes, this is the shortest movie to ever receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
* The play "Diamond Lil", on which She Done Him Wrong (1933) is based, was revived on Broadway three times after its original run, and all four of the Broadway runs starred Mae West in her original role.
* Mae West and Rafaela Ottiano repeat their original stage roles from the play "Diamond Lil", although, in the film, Lil's name is changed to Lou.
* Mae West was sewn into most of her costumes.
* One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since.