Saturday, July 4, 2009

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

"When women go wrong, men go right after them."

Lady Lou in She Done Him Wrong

Director: Lowell Sherman
USA 1933
66 min

Here it is - one of the major reasons of the "necessity" of The National Legion of Decency, and Mae West's breakthrough performance. Set in the 1890's, the film has a typical setting for the Depression era audience who wanted to get far, far away from the harsh reality.

Mae West appears as the diamond draped nightclub owner Lady Lou. Wiggling her hips in inhuman corsets and tight dresses (that West apparantly often had to be sewn into), she seduces every man in sight and keep up illegal business with her nightclub partners. With one fiancée in jail, another on the ground floor of the nightclub (Wallace Beery's brother Noah Beery) and a lover on his way up to her room, Lou lays her eyes on a handsome mission director, Captain Cummings (a young Cary Grant). Within a short period of time, the plot ends up including a jealous jail-breaking fiancé, white slavery, murder and a lot of witty dialogue with a heck of a lot of double entendres delivered by West.

This film sure succeeds in cramming in a lot of plot, dialogue and great musical numbers in only just over an hour! You don't have time to get bored with anything; you can only lay back, relax and enjoy.
And don't forget: Mae West was 40 years old when making this film (just a year after her motion picture debut), while Cary Grant was only 29. An admirable woman, indeed!

Gilbert Roland as Serge, Mae West and Rafaela Ottiano as Russian Rita. Both West and Ottiano repeat their stage roles in this film version of the play.

She Done Him Wrong is based on Mae West's successful stage play "Diamond Lil". Even if this was one of the last films that managed to escape the scissors of Joseph Breen and company, a lot of the sexual references and double entendres were cut out when re-writing the script for film. (There was a reason for Mae West to be on trial for obscenity in 1927, right?)

Mae West on trial for obscenity for her burlesque Broadway Show "Sex", 1927.

What worries me though is that I might have gotten my hands on a cut copy of this film on DVD. Everywhere I look it's supposed to be 66 minutes long, but my copy was only 62 minutes. Have I missed out on any West/Grant bathing scene or something? I didn't hear the famous line:
"Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"
Was that cencored perhaps? According to IMDb this is the film where it's supposed to be in. Damn it. If that's the case, I will sue the DVD store I bought the Mae West box in!
Anyway - a great film I'm guaranteed to see over and over again. Some quotes from the wonderful Mae West-written dialogue:


Serge Stanieff: I am delighted. I've heard so much about you.
Lady Lou: Yeah, but you can't prove it.

Lady Lou: Why don't you come up some time and see me?

Captain Cummings: Surely you don't object to my holding your hand?
Lady Lou: It ain't heavy - I can hold it.

Captain Cummings: Haven't you ever met a man who could make you happy?
Lady Lou: Sure, lots of times.


Keith said...

I love this movie. It was fantastic to see Mae and Cary together. Hope you had a nice weekend.

Lolita said...

It was lovely - but I liked "I'm no Angel" even more! And Cary has a bigger part in it, too. Coming up!

Rupert Alistair said...

This movie is SO good. It's just Mae through and through. Great lines that she delivers to perfection. You've posted some really great graphics for the film too. Thanks for sharing.


Lolita Haze said...

I just watched this movie for the first time... as a showgirl who has a cop fetish and loves Cary Grant... this was one hell of a fantasy story for me. :-D