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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

Set in the Bowery district of 1890s New York, a man hungry and diamond loving barroom singer (Mae West) becomes unwittingly involved with a counterfeiting and prostitution ring run by her current lover (Noah Beery Sr.). In only her second film and her first starring role, Mae West became a major star and reputedly saved Paramount studios from bankruptcy. Though uncredited, the film is based on her play DIAMOND LIL. West was an unlikely candidate for mega movie stardom. Pushing 40, slightly overweight with a brittle edge, not much of an actress per se, she created a one of a kind persona that hadn't existed before or since. West treated sex as a laugh, delivering double entendres with a wry delivery and a straight face. It's amazing what she got away with until the production code essentially shut her down. As for the vehicle itself, it's pretty hoary piece when West isn't around but thankfully when she's on screen, she's a powerhouse performer and she delivers some of her best one liners here. Directed by Lowell Sherman. With a young "wet behind the ears" Cary Grant as a Salvation Army worker, Gilbert Roland, Rochelle Hudson, Louise Beavers and Rafaela Ottiano.

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