Friday, March 07, 2014

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

This pre-code period comedy-drama set in the Bowery during the Gay Nineties is an excellent showcase for Mae West, who wrote this story about a saloon singer and her various romantic entanglements and drama with the men in her life. West’s characterization is still startling and undeniably attractive, not afraid to use her power over the men around her to her advantage, while simultaneously satirizing her own image as a sex symbol with a cutting wit.

Cary Grant is effective in an early appearance as the undercover government agent posing as a missionary. Owen Moore, Noah Beery Sr. and Gilbert Roland are all fine as West's various suitors, and are ably supported by a veritable all-star cast of Hollywood character actors all perfectly suited to the various types they're called on to play, especially Dewey Robinson as West's bodyguard and Tammany Young as a Bowery tough. Shot with characteristic high-gloss cinematography by Charles Lang and featuring a nice selection of period songs that add to the atmosphere, which is nicely established in the opening montage and evoked throughout. It was nominated for Best Picture and includes West’s iconic line, “Why don't you come up sometime and see me?"

Directed by Lowell Sherman. By Mae West, screenplay by Harvey Thew and John Bright. With Mae West, Cary Grant, Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery Sr., Rafaela Ottiano, Dewey Robinson, Rochelle Hudson, Tammany Young, and many others.

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