- by Zoë
Lady Lou owns a saloon, run
by Gus. Capt. Cummings (from a local church mission) visits Lou often hoping
to save her. She falls for him. Lou kills a nasty criminal, and Cummings
turns out to be a police agent, who arrests her.
- by Gael Sweeney
SHE DONE HIM WRONG is a re-write (and cleaned up!) version
of West's Broadway hit DIAMOND LIL. West is Lady Lou, a "Gay Nineties" Bowery
"hostess" and mistress of a gangster, Gus Jordan (Noah Beery, Sr.). Grant plays
Captain Cummings, a Salvation Army do-gooder who opens a mission next door to Lady Lou's
saloon. Lou finds it hard to believe that the hunky Cummings isn't just another man she
can seduce and manipulate -- "You can be had," she says in the
in which the good Captain is invited to "Come up sometime and see me -- I'll tell
your fortune." The Captain, while beguiled by Lou, rejects her advances -- mainly
because he is, in fact, an undercover police officer looking to get the goods on a white
slavery ring being run by Lady Lou's pals Russian Rosie and her lover Serge. When Lou
accidentally kills Rosie and the white slavery plot is exposed, Captain Cummings reveals his
true identity and carries Lady Lou away -- but the "handcuffs" that she expects
him to place on her wrists turn out to be a diamond ring for her finger!
Cary serves mainly as the object of West's
lust here -- a welcome turn around from the typical lusted-after ingénue! Seeing Cary play
the blushing virgin to West's predatory vamp is fun -- if completely ridiculous! And Cary
as a Salvation Army missionary is also the silliest premise possible. When he is revealed
to be an undercover policeman, it results in a deus ex machina that throws any kind of
reality (if there was any to begin with!) out the window. Lady Lou's past as a prostitute,
bootlegger, and even murderess are whited out as she faces a life as the happy wife of a
Film Review - February 14, 1933
- by "Bige"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Only one previous picture part - a small one in 'Night After
Night' - and now Mae West is starring! It looks as though
Paramount brought Miss West along too fast. In New York she
rates the billing but elsewhere, where they may not know Mae from
Joan of Arc, the name over the title of this picture probably
won't attract much attention the first time. Besides,
there's not a box office moniker in the rest of the cast.
Only alternative to a
strong drawing cast nowadays if a picture wants business, is
strong entertainment. This one has neither.
Folks in the sticks
seeing Mae West for the first time in this flicker, without having
heard of or about her before, are likely to inquire as to what
reform school Mae was brought up in. They may not know it,
but they'll be seeing Mae in 'Diamond Lil.' Nothing much
changed except the title, but don't tell that to Will Hays.
Done Him Wrong' is interesting since it takes the customers back
to the '90's and inside a Bowery free-and-easy, but mostly
following a few highlights in the career of Diamond Lou, nee Lil.
Its story is pretty feeble and stories are pretty important in
pictures because personality is less a factor on celluloid than in
person in the talkers it seems.
With the material
Lowell Sherman, director this time instead of actor, turned in a
commendable job. He tackled the script with a
tongue-in-cheek attitude that takes nothing too seriously, and he
restrained Miss West from going too far, something Mae has never
been able to do on her own.
The locale, the
clothes and the types are interesting, and so is Miss West in her
picture hats, straight jacket gowns and with so much jewelry that
she looks like a Knickerbocker ice plant. But Miss West is
chiefly interesting because she looks nice and youthful, and nice
Deletions in the
script from its original 1928 legit form were few, with only the
roughest of the rough stuff out. White slavery angle is
thinly disguised, with the girls instead shipped to Frisco to pick
pockets. Character titles are changed only slightly, such as
from Lil to Lou, etc. The swan bed is in, but for a flash
only, with Mae doing her stuff on the chaise lounge in this
version. The closing boy friend, a Salvation Army fellow in
the play, is just a Bowery missionary as rewritten. When Lou
bumps off the villainous Rita (it's Rosie now) she still says,
'I'm doing a job that I never did before.'
Caster delivered some
excellent types for the colorful support parts and the troupe is
first rate as a whole. Numerous ex-vaudevillians besides
Miss West in the cast, including Cary Grant, the soul-saver; Fuzzy
Knight, who whips a piano, and Grace La Rue. The latter, who
headlined when Miss West was chasing acrobats in the No. 2 spot,
has a bit. Rafaella Ottiano, who does Rita, is a carry-over
from the original legit cast.
With this strong
line-up and others, including Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, David
Landau and Owen Moore as background, they're never permitted to be
anything more than just background. Miss West gets all the
lens gravy and full figure most of the time. When not
flashing the ice and steaming up the boys, she sings 'Easy Rider,'
'I Like a Man Who Takes His Time,' or 'Frankie and Johnnie.'
All somewhat cleaned up lyrically, but Mae couldn't sing a lullaby
without making it sexy.
A Bowery street set
and a heavy interior of 'Gus Jordan's joint' are exceptionally
good in appearance, and probably won't get many arguments about
accuracy or lack of it. But the nifty looking chorus gals in
the Bowery joint's show don't seem to fit the location.
Mae West in pictures
should stand out just as she did in legit - as a distinct
personality. There's no one just like her and she can be
built up to mean something for film box offices. But she
needs extreme care in the literary department. Also some
nursing. This premature shove to the foreground could retard
her progress. Obviously due to studio hunger for a new
attraction, with Miss West expected to attract before she is
known. If not rushed she should be able to build all by
TIMES Film Review - February 11, 1933
- by Mordaunt Hall
- submitted by Barry Martin
Mae West is to be seen at the
Paramount in a hearty and blustering cinematic cartoon of the devilish '90s.
With the haughty strut and the nasal twang which are the principal assets of
her repertoire, she filled the screen with gaudy humor. Illustrating the
troubled career of Lady Lou, whose heart is bigger than her sense of
decorum, she rhymed "amateur" with "connoisseur" in one
of her beer-hall ballads and, on the whole, gave a remarkable suspicious
impersonation of Diamond Lil. In fact, "She Done Him Wrong," with
a few discreet cuts and alterations, is the same "Diamond Lil"
without which no bibliography of Miss West's literary works would be
Most highly prized of the Bowery
belles, Lady Lou is notable both for her beauty, which is ornate,
and for her wit, which is not dull. Although her reputation is
nightly torn to bits by the pious in the mission next door to the
saloon where she holds court, district leaders and other local
Napoleons fight for her favors. Despite the title, she did nobody
wrong. While her man is doing a "rap" she has to live,
and she has chosen a good location. "My career is
diamonds," she says, and men fight for the privilege of
adding to her collection of jewelry.
It is Lady Lou's sentimental nature
that brings her down. The girl she saves from suicide is sold into
white slavery. Russian Rosie, whom she tries to befriend, turns up
with counterfeit money. The man for whom she makes an
unprecedented purchase of a soul-saving institution flashes a
Federal agent's badge on her. Even Chick Clark, who should have
known Lady Lou better than that, escapes from prison for the
specific purpose of questioning her fidelity. In the finale Lou is
serenely singing "Frankie and Johnnie," while her
indignant admirers are converging on her from various parts of the
Miss West gives a highly amusing
performance, which necessarily overshadows the commendable efforts
of Cary Grant, Noah Beery, Owen Moore, David Landau and Rafaela
Ottiano. Lowell Sherman's direction is light and fast.
This is Cary Grant's
8th film for Paramount and his first with Mae West, the other being I'M NO
ANGEL which also would be released in 1933. SHE DONE HIM WRONG is
based on a play called DIAMOND LIL, which had been written earlier by West.
This is definitely her movie, and Grant appears as Captain Cummings/The Hawk
probably for fewer than ten minutes total on the screen. Cummings runs
a church next to the saloon where Diamond Lil is working and he makes many
visits over there in an attempt to "save souls." There is counterfeiting
going on at the saloon, plus a few other shady dealings, and when Captain
Cummings, now the Hawk, comes in to arrest the bad guys, Lil is saved by
Cummings, who takes her in a separate carriage and then proceeds to take all
her diamond rings off her left hand and slips on an engagement ring.
Kind of corny, but cute. It is said by some that West discovered Grant
on the Paramount lot. "If he can talk, I'll take him," she
was purported to have said. Grant obviously by this time was on his
way to stardom, and her attention to him only added to his already bounding
popularity. Also at this juncture in his personal life, he is about to
meet Virginia Cherrill in the summer of 1933 and she will become his first
wife on February 10th the following year.
Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot
Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine
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