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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
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.
It's really a privilege to be able to see an icon like Mae West on
film. This early talkie is Mae at her best - precode, dripping in
diamonds and one-liners. It's a shame that later in life, she became a
parody of herself. She was an important figure not only in theater but
in early film.
Mae was not only a talented performer, she was a gifted writer and knew how to showcase herself. Though "She Done Him Wrong" is light on plot, it's heavy on Mae, and frankly, who cares about anything else? She's Lady Lou, a bawdy singer, with her hourglass figure shown to great advantage in a variety of gowns. All men want her - and let's face it, many men have had her! When she visits her ex-boyfriend in jail, she knows ever other con in the place.
This is a fascinating movie on so many levels. Besides Mae and her precode innuendos, it has Cary Grant's star-making performance (though Grant always disliked West's claim that she discovered him). It's the film that saved Paramount from bankruptcy. It's one of the films that brought on the code. Most interesting to me is, the audiences loved it! These audiences would very soon (like the next year) be deprived of the sexual double entendre and morality found in this film. Rather than the early audiences being naive and unsophisticated, it was the banning of certain language and situations in film that gave rise to the idea of a false world: that once, there were no shades of gray, all unmarried women were virgins, the bad guy always lost, and no bad deed goes unpunished.
"She Done Him Wrong" is a great chance to see a very young and handsome Gilbert Roland and Noah Berry Sr. (whose son really resembled him) in early film roles.
An amazing artifact, some hilarious lines, and most of all - Mae.
It appears that some modern day critics have forgotten what a great period film is all about. This very authentic replica of the Gay Nineties (1890s) is accurate right down to the horse hair furniture, gas lamps, Brooklyn accents and costumes. It was adapted from Mae West's Broadway hit "Diamond Lil" and coupled with West's other 1933 hit (I'm No Angel), saved Paramount from bankruptcy. The film was so loved by audiences that midnight showings were needed to accommodate the crowds, and it was so lurid that seven countries banned the film altogether. It was nominated for the best picture of 1933 and was West's favorite of all her twelve films. The film introduced the famed line (although it's uttered slightly different in the movie) "Come up and see me sometime." Some of Mae's funniest work is here, and she sings three great tunes. Edith Head did all the costumes and Lowell Sherman directed. Modern times have dulled the bluntness of this film, but be assured, it was an eye-popper in 1933.
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.
Mae West had a Broadway smash when she penned the bawdy tale of DIAMOND
LIL for herself--and with a few tweaks here and there the story came to
the screen as SHE DONE HIM WRONG. The film was an immediate hit and the
role of Lady Lou remains one of West's best remembered performances.
The script is jam-packed with some of West's most famous lines,
including the memorable "Come up'n see me sometime. I'm home every
evenin'" and "You can be had." West throws her lines with style,
aplomb, enough innuendo to make a censor cringe, and considerable
humor--but, somewhat surprisingly, the movie is not really a comedy.
SHE DONE HIM WRONG is a hard-knocks tale of Bowery bruisers who dance attendance upon the 'Lady Lou' and often resort to crime to keep her dripping in the diamonds she prizes above all else. But although she has one lover already locked up in jail, another one mixed up in the white slavery rackets, and still a third waiting to step into the gap, the Lady Lou is more interested in seducing missionary Cary Grant... only to find him less interested in her body than her soul, a circumstance that prompts West to utter one of the most how-did-that-get-past-the-censors lines in 1930s cinema: "Maybe I ain't got no soul." This is a surprisingly tough little movie, and in addition to West's zinging lines and occasional musical numbers SHE DONE HIM WRONG also offers a glimpse at a very young (and still slightly wooden) Cary Grant; it also has an ensemble cast that plays in a very enjoyable grand manner, truly first rate production values all the way, and A surprisingly brisk running time. West did funnier films than this, but the mix of her sharp wit and the rough story is particularly memorable. This is where the fire started really started, and I recommend it very strongly.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
A True Mae West Gem! This is Ms West's first feature film, and it
certainly has her "signature" come-back lines throughout. For the first
time her most famous line "come up and see me sometime" was taken in by
cinema goers, and for years to come it was America's favorite "quote".
The plot centers around New York's bowery ca. 1900. Mae West is "Diamond Lil", the mistress of a big-time gangster, who two times her man because she can't resist tall, dark and handsome Cary Grant. The heat is on, but soon the story takes a twist (nothing that could take away any "cool confidence" from Diamond Lil, of course; she laughs it all off with more clever come-back lines).
This movie is a classic Hollywood gem. It was a smash hit when it opened, and since then it has lost none of its appeal. Mae West remains one of my favorite true movie stars, and she was never given proper credit for her screen writing genius! You're gonna like this picture!
One of the very few Mae West movies that escaped the butchery of Hays censorship, this film is 70% filler, but when Miss West steps into the picture, her star quality just explodes out of the screen. Every drawled line is loaded with smutty innuendo, every man would sell his soul for her. West plays a woman who makes no secret of enjoying sex, nor of her willingness to use men as playthings who also buy her diamonds. in 1933 she already had conventional gender politics standing on its head, and was funnier and sexier than everyone else in Hollywood put together. If you never understood why Mae West achieved lasting fame, watch this to see a natural star at work, making it all look so easy.
One of the seeming paradoxes of film-making is that historical period pieces
age much better than movies set in the present or the future. That
certainly is true of this classic comedy. Co-written by its star as a play
called "Diamond Lil" about a turn-of-the-century chanteuse with no shame and
her own standards of personal morals, She Done Him Wrong seamlessly blends
the backdrop of turn-of-the-century New York politics with fast wisecracking
patter and plot-lines that blend seamlessly. To me, it packs twice the
action and four times the wit of one of today's comedies into about half the
This was Mae West's second movie, and it established her as an immediate star. Although not pretty even by the standards of the day and much less so by today's standards, she commands every man's attention by her very presence. Cary Grant flashes star quality in each of his scenes as the ideal foil to West. Filled with clever double entendres and disarmingly bawdy situations, She Done Him Wrong is every thing a period comedy should aspire to be, and more. The title is a role reversal on the refrain from "Frankie and Johnnie", the turn-of-the-century ditty West sings to begin the movie's climactic wrap-up.
Any movie lover willing to value this classic by the standards of the day is in for a treat.
Set mostly in a bawdy saloon/dance hall in NYC during the 1890s, this
film is a showcase for the talents of Mae West. She plays Lady Lou, a
self-confident, sassy singer with a quick wit, who entertains customers
with songs that have a Blues theme and were popular in vaudeville.
In this role, buxom Mae West is at her best. She struts her stuff, she wears tons of diamonds, she smiles in a slightly mischievous way, she rolls her eyes, and she speaks in a voice that is more than a little nasal. Her costumes are glamorous and flamboyant. In short, she presents an on-screen image that is wonderfully ... unique.
The film's story is thin and largely irrelevant. It involves the people around Lady Lou, some of whom are schemers and cheats. Implicit sexual references in the dialogue, and the character of Lady Lou, led the "National Legion of Decency" to push down our throats the Production Code, a wretched policy device that censored cinematic content for some thirty years thereafter.
If I have a complaint with this film it is that the story is too serious. Mae West is placed in scenes that allow her merely to recite dialogue. She is less an actress than a singer and on-stage performer. I would have preferred a more lighthearted musical theme, to play up her musical talents.
And so for me, the best parts of this film are the musical numbers few though they may be. Mae West sings "Frankie And Johnny" and a couple of other songs. One of my favorite sequences occurs about midway through the film. In what appears to be an authentically designed music hall set, an Irish tenor with a big mustache sings "Silver Threads Among The Gold", a musical tearjerker popular with barbershop quartets of that era. The song's sad theme prompts a man in the audience literally to "cry in his beer". Gas lights point upward to the stage. And behind the singing tenor, a curtain sways back and forth, with product signs that read "Old Whiskey", "Dijon Burgundy", among others. It's a sequence that is straight out of vaudeville. Marvelous!
"She Done Him Wrong" is a film whose story almost gets in the way of the main character, played by a legendary talent. The film is worth watching more than once, but only to see marvelous Mae West, and to listen to those wonderful songs from the bygone days of vaudeville.
After a supporting role in the George Raft film Night After Night,
Paramount films realized what a gold mine they had in Mae West. Between
her and a young radio singer named Bing Crosby, they pulled Paramount
from the brink of bankruptcy, the white mountain studio nearly went
under in the early Thirties.
After this the studio gave Mae her head in choosing material and she decided to use one of her own original plays, She Done Him Wrong. The story is set in the Bowery district of the 1890s and New York of the 1890s is where Mae grew up, she had a good ear and a good memory for character types she uses in the film.
Mae always plays Mae West and would you really want her as anyone else? She's a Bowery entertainer of the period, working in this case for Noah Beery's club as the main attraction. Beery's into some really shady business, he doubles in white slavery and nearly gets innocent Rochelle Hudson who tries to kill herself in his club. Mae saves her, but turns her over to Beery because she doesn't know about his other sideline. All she knows is that he pays off in diamonds as well as cash.
Besides Beery panting after her, we've got silent screen star Owen Moore, young Gilbert Roland who is the assistant to white slaver Rafaela Ottiana and in the film that would be his breakthrough, Cary Grant as a Salvation Army worker who's not all he seems. Mae personally picked Grant for his role, he was a young Paramount contract player beginning to get some notice. But as I said before in my review of I'm No Angel, this is not a Cary Grant film, this is a Mae West film.
Mae besides being one of the great sex symbols of the last century had a great memory and eye for detail of the bawdy Bowery of her youth. Good thing she came along before The Code was put in place. Her first films are her best, The Code definitely hampered her style.
And Mae West if she had anything, had style.
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