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She Done Him Wrong is a Pre-Code 1933 Paramount Pictures comedy/romance motion picture starring Mae West and Cary Grant. Others in the cast include Louise Beavers, Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, Sr., and Rochelle Hudson.

The film was directed by Lowell Sherman and produced by William LeBaron. The script was adapted by Harvey F. Thew and John Bright from the successful Broadwaymarker play Diamond Lil (1928) by Mae West. Original music was composed by Ralph Rainger, John Leipold and Stephan Pasternacki. Charles Lang was responsible for the cinematography, while the costumes were designed by Edith Head.

The movie is famous for West's many double entendres and quips, including her seductive, "I always did like a man in a uniform. That one fits you grand. Why don't you come up sometime and see me? I'm home every evening."

She Done Him Wrong was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. At 66 minutes, it is the shortest film ever to be so honored.

Blonde Venus, starring Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant, predates She Done Him Wrong by a year even though Mae West always claimed to have discovered Cary Grant for her film, elaborating that up until then Grant had only made "some tests with starlets."

In 1996, She Done Him Wrong was selected for preservation in the United Statesmarker National Film Registry by the Library of Congressmarker as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Synopsis

The story is set in New Yorkmarker in the 1890s. A bawdy singer, Lady Lou (West), works in the Bowerymarker barroom saloon of her boss and benefactor, Gus Jordan (Beery), who has given her many diamonds. But Lou is a lady with more men friends than anyone might imagine.

What she does not know is that Gus trafficks in prostitution and runs a counterfeiting ring to help finance her expensive diamonds. He also sends young women to San Franciscomarker to be pickpockets. Gus works with two other crooked entertainer-assistants, Russian Rita (Ottiano) and Rita's lover, the suave Serge Stanieff (Roland). One of Gus's rivals and former "friend" of Lou's, named Dan Flynn, spends most of the movie dropping hints to Lou that Gus is up to no good, promising to look after her once Gus is in jail. Lou leads him on, hinting at times that she will return to him, but eventually he loses patience and implies he'll see her jailed if she doesn't submit to him.

A city mission (a thinly disguised Salvation Army) is located next door to the bar. Its young director, Captain Cummings (Grant), is in reality an undercover Federal agent working to infiltrate and expose the illegal activities in the bar. Gus suspects nothing; he worries only that Cummings will reform his bar and scare away his customers.

Lou's former boyfriend, Chick Clark (Moore), is a vicious criminal who was convicted of robbery and sent to prison for trying to steal diamonds for her. In his absence, she becomes attracted to the handsome young psalm-singing reformer.

Warned that Chick thinks she's betrayed him, she goes to the prison to try to reassure him. All the inmates greet her warmly and familiarly as she walks down the cellblock. Chick becomes angry and threatens to kill her if she double-crosses or two-times him before he gets out. She lies and claims she has been true to him.

Gus gives counterfeit money to Rita and Serge to spend. Chick escapes from jail, and police search for him in the bar. He comes into Lou's room and starts to strangle her, breaking off only because he still loves her and cannot harm her. Lou calms him down by promising that she will go with him when she finishes her next number.

After Sergei gives Lou a diamond pin belonging to Rita, Rita starts a fight with Lou, who accidentally stabs her to death. Lou calmly combs the dead woman's long hair to hide the fact Rita is dead while the police search the room for Chick Clark. She has her bodyguard Spider, who "would do anything for you, Lou" dispose of Rita's body. She then tells Spider to bring Chick, who's hiding in an alley, back to her room upstairs. Then, while she sings "Frankie and Johnny", she silently signals to Dan Flynn that he should go to her room to wait for her, even though she knows Chick is in there with a gun. Chick shoots Dan dead and the gunfire draws a police raid. Cummings shows his badge and reveals himself as "The Hawk," a well-known Federal agent, as he arrests Gus and Serge. Chick, still lurking in Lou's room, is about to kill Lou for double-crossing him, when Cummings also apprehends him.

Cummings then takes Lou away in an open horse-drawn carriage instead of the paddywagon into which all the other criminals have been loaded. He tells her she doesn't belong in jail (viewers may disagree!) and removes all her other rings and slips a diamond engagement ring onto her marriage finger.

"Where'd you get that . . . dark and handsome?" Lou asks.

"You bad girl", he scolds.

"You'll find out", she coos.

Reception

American Film Institute recognition

Notes

Though Mae West's famous line to Cary Grant is "Why don't you come up some time and see me?" in She Done Him Wrong, she changed it to "Come up and see me sometime" in her next movie, I'm No Angel, which was released the same year and also co-starred Grant.

She Done Him Wrong bears some resemblances to The Bowery, a film released the same year by a different studio starring Noah Beery's half-brother Wallace Beery in a similar role. Also, the part Wallace Beery played in The Bowery, a saloon owner named Chuck Connors, appears in She Done Him Wrong as a small role and is played by a different actor.

Mae West loved to take credit for "discovering" Cary Grant for She Done Him Wrong but Grant had already made seven movies, including playing Marlene Dietrich's leading man in Blonde Venus the previous year.

Quotes

"I always did like a man in a uniform. That one fits you grand. Why don't you come up sometime and see me? I'm home every evening."

"Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"

Cast



Notes



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