She Done Him Wrong (1932)

“When women go wrong, men go right after them.”

Synopsis:
Diamond Lil (Mae West) works in the saloon of her benefactor Gus (Noah Beery, Sr.), who secretly traffics in white slavery and counterfeiting. Meanwhile, an undercover cop posing as a Salvation Army captain (Cary Grant) tries to arrest Gus and his cronies.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this classic Mae West vehicle “is not the comedy masterpiece that many critics contend it to be.” Nonetheless, West is a pleasure to watch as she sashays around the saloon flinging one-liners and swaying her ample hips — as Matthew Wilder notes in his City Pages review (see link below), the fun in this movie “lies in how extremely West perforates the goody-gumdrop female persona of her era”. You’ll enjoy the quips, but forget the plot immediately.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • Cary Grant in his first major role
    Cary Grant
  • Mae drawling one of the most (mis)quoted lines in movie history: “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?”
    She Done Him Wrong2
  • Plenty of memorable quips: “I wasn’t always rich. No, there was a time I didn’t know where my next husband was coming from.”

Must See?
Yes. As one of the key movies which prompted the formation of the Hays Production Code, it’s a part of cinematic history film fanatics shouldn’t miss.

Categories

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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One Response to “She Done Him Wrong (1932)”

  1. A must.

    Even though I’m not a huge fan of Mae West, I have to admit this is one of her more successful and satisfying films. Director Lowell Sherman did a nifty job of laying out the complicated plot (so many characters running in and out in just over an hour!). I especially like the opening montage sequence, in which Sherman captures the period of the film and the atmosphere of where it takes place.

    Between dodging death threats and somewhat falling into various arms of various men, it’s a wonder West can compose herself enough to perform her semi-jelly roll tunes. She does look great in some terrific outfits – and even manages some genuine acting! And Grant is wonderfully Grant in this early, solid performance.

    I won’t say time has made the film’s humor fall flat. It holds up ok, even if it isn’t wildly memorable. Here and there, though, there is the occasional gem –

    Grant: Haven’t ya ever found a man that could make ya happy?
    West: Sure. Lotsa times.

    Blink and you’ll miss the gay couple (!) in jail when West goes to visit an ex-beau.

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