Sadly, this is the only film starring Mae West that was ever nominated for Best Picture, so we’ve got to talk about her. Mae was a woman ahead of her time, of the twelve films she acted in, Mae wrote ten of them. Her revealing costumes and risky subjects caught the attention of movie goers and studio heads alike. That busty and hippy figure is said to be the inspiration for the shape of a coke bottle and you can guess why inflatable life vests were nicknamed Mae Wests.
Because of the sexual subjects of her films, the Motion Picture Production Code (sort of the first MPAA) was established to regulate the content that could be shown in motion pictures. Well, Mae didn’t take that laying down, she found ways around the Code to get what she wanted in her films. Even before the Code was formed, Mae was even sentenced to 10 days in jail because of her play entitled Sex on obscenity charges, but was let out after one on good behavior.
She Done Him Wrong made Cary Grant a star and though this was only Mae’s second film, she attracted such an audience from being the first girl on film to make racy comments. It was that sort of bold new obscene idea that instantly made her a star.
In the film, Mae West plays Lady Lou, a dancer and uh- entertainer for the guys. She entertains so many of them, she can hardly keep track. Gus (Noah Beery) owns the joint and showers Lou with expensive jewelry hoping one day she’ll be all his. But next door, Captain Cummings (Cary Grant) has opened a mission and drops in now and then. Gus is afraid Cummings will scare off his customers, but Lou sees him as the one man she actually wants. Of course, good men aren’t so easy to catch.
Meanwhile, Chick (Owen Moore) has been in jail over a year and all he has to hold onto is the promise that Lou will be faithful to him. When Spider (Dewey Robinson) takes Lou to go visit Chick, we see that nearly all the men in the clink know Lou. That tells you what kind of people her clients are. Anyway, Chick can’t wait a whole year and he probably senses that Lou is just playing him, so he breaks out of jail.
You can probably guess that Chick will head straight for the bar and Lou and that Cummings will somehow have a hand in saving the day, but there are still some fun surprises you might not be able to guess. This film is one of the great classics and only sixty-six minutes long, so don’t tell me you don’t have the time. Oh, and if you enjoy finding 1930’s racism in film, there are two huge blows in here: black servant and bumbling Irish cops! Let’s not forget one of the greatest lines in film history is in this film:
“Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?”