Sunday, August 15, 2010

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

Mae West is Lady Lou, night club singer, 40 year old sex pot (ok, 39), and all around hoochie mamma. She has taken up with corrupt a politician (Noah Berry Sr.) who is able to lavish her with the lifestyle she desires. She has a violent boyfriend in jail that she promised to be faithful to and comes on to anyone who interests her.

Entering the scene is Captain Cummings (Cary Grant), who runs the salvation army style mission next door and would like to save the soul of everybody, Lady Lou included.

She Done Him Wrong is the film version of West's popular and bawdy stage play "Diamond Lil." Despite spending a lot of effort trying to tone it down, the film was still met with a fair amount of outrage. References to prostitution and loose morals are throughout.

My first impression was that this was a vehicle for one-liners. The movie is chuck full of them. West's famous "come up and see me sometime" makes it's first appearance, although not exactly in that format. Lady Lou, when told she is a great woman, says she's the best woman who ever walked the streets. It's loaded with this stuff.

Another interesting aspect is how the 1930's viewed 1890, when the film is set. The exasperated look on a street worker with a broom as he passes a horse. Quaint and old fashioned. Great fodder for depression era audiences.

A great virtue is how tight the story is. 64 minutes via Netflix online. West sing a couple songs that do not further the story. Cut them and the movie might be under 50 minutes. As it is, it's the shortest movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture. Definitely re-viewable, and I may do so. Right now, it's earns an AMRU of 3.5.

"Why don't you come up some time and see me."
"When women go wrong, men go right after them."
"There was a time when I didn't know where my next husband would come from."

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