“There was a time I didn’t know where my next husband was coming from.”
Lady Lou (Mae West) is the diamond covered singer kept by shady saloon owner Gus Jordan (Noah Beery). Lou’s boudoir–her lair full of imported French furniture–is where she hosts an ever-rotating line of men. There’s Flynn (David Landau)–who’s so crazy about Lou, he’s ready to do whatever it takes to get her away from Gus, Serge Stanieff (Gilbert Roland)–a man who’s prepared to steal diamonds to impress Lou, and convict Chick Clark (Owen Moore)–who’s naive enough to imagine that Lou will wait for him while he’s in jail. But apart from all these competing rivals, there’s also Captain Cummings (Cary Grant) the crusading do-gooder director of the mission next door to the saloon.
Lou only cares for her diamonds, but this all changes when she becomes involved in the fate of a suicidal young woman (Rochelle Hudson). All those glittering diamonds come with a price tag, and Lou finds herself mixed up in a counterfeiting operation and a white slavery ring.
She Done Him Wrong is based on Mae West’s Broadway play, Diamond Lil, and naturally the role of Lady Lou–written by Mae West–was made for the actress. The few weaknesses in the plot are compensated by the glittering presence of Mae West, but the film lags a bit when she’s not on the stage. Mae West is in top form as Lady Lou–her suggestive wisecracks, body language, and long retinue of male admirers make no secret of the fact that this woman has a lot of men in her past. At one point, Lou visits the jail and recognizes every man she sees. She quips, “What is this–old home week?” Even though she’s physically threatened by a disappointed lover at one point, Lou (the unflappable Mae West) takes it all in stride.
Mae West performs several musical numbers:
She Done Him Wrong
A Guy What Takes His Time
Frankie and Johnny
Favourite lines include:
“Mens all alike whether they’re married or single. It’s their game. I happen to be smart enough to play it their way.”
“When women go wrong, men go right after them.”
“I ain’t the sentimental kind.”
“Once I get ’em, they’re branded.”
“Diamonds is my career.”
“Wouldn’t hurt me to add a different kind of man for the record.”
“I always did like a man in uniform, and that one fits you grand. Why don’t you come up sometime and see me.”
“Who wants him to fall. He’s the kind you have to marry just to get rid of him.”
Classic Mae West–don’t miss it. From director Lowell Sherman.