She Done Him Wrong

From Academic Kids

She Done Him Wrong is a 1933 Paramount comedy/romance motion picture starring Mae West and Cary Grant, with Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, and Rafaela Ottiano.

Directed by Lowell Sherman, the story was adapted for the screen by Harvey F. Thew and John Bright, based on Mae West's successful Broadway play Diamond Lil (1928).

The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

It 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."

In 1996, the United States Library of Congress deemed the movie "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

66 mins.; black-and-white

The story is set in New York in the 1890s. A bawdy singer, Lady Lou (played by West), works in the Bowery barroom saloon of her boss and benefactor, Gus Jordan (played by 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 traffics in prostitution and runs a counterfeiting ring to help finance her expensive diamonds. He also sends young women to San Francisco to be pickpockets. Gus works with two other crooked entertainer-assistants, Russian Rita (played by Ottiano) and Rita's lover, the suave Serge Stanieff (played by Roland).

A city mission (a thinly disguised Salvation Army) is located next door to the bar. Its young director, Captain Cummings (played by Grant), is, in reality, an undercover Federal agent working to infiltrate and expose the illegal activities in the bar. Gus is unaware; he is only worried that Captain Cummings will reform the place and scare away the bar's customers.

Lou has forgotten her former boyfriend, Chick Clark (played by Moore), a vicious criminal that was convicted of robbery and sent to prison for trying to steal diamonds for her. She is more attracted to the handsome young psalm-singing Captain Cummings.

She goes to the prison to see her ex-boyfriend, Chick, and all the men know her as she walks down the cellblock. Chick is angered and threatens that if she double-crosses and two-times him before he gets out, he will kill her.

Gus gives counterfeit money to Rita and Serge to spend. Chick has escaped, and police arrive at the bar to search for him. He comes into Lou's room and threatens to strangle her. She tells him she will go with him when she finishes her next number.

Rita starts a fight with Lou, who accidentally stabs her. She has her bodyguard dispose of Rita's body. After she sings "Frankie and Johnny," gunfire draws a police raid. Cummings shows his badge and reveals himself as the undercover Federal agent "The Hawk" as he arrests Gus and Serge. Chick threatens Lou with a gun, but is also apprehended by the Hawk and his men during the confrontation.

Cummings then takes Lou away to jail in an open horse-drawn carriage instead of the paddywagon. He removes all her other rings and slips on his own diamond ring, which she notices is on her marriage finger.

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

"You bad girl," he scolds her.

"You'll find out," she coos.

Trivia

  • Though Mae West's line 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.

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