A beautiful seductress contends with a jealous criminal and a
handsome temperance league member who is not all he appears.
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Directed by Lowell Sherman
Written by Harvey F. Thew and John Bright
Starring Mae West, Cary Grant, Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland,
Noah Beery, David Landau, Rafaela Ottiano
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture
In the early decades of Hollywood, they were still figuring out how film was gonna work. Things like story, character development, and basic interest weren't always gonna be there. I had always thought this film was universally acclaimed, but it turns out most people aren't fans. Somehow, She Done Him Wrong scored a single Oscar nom for Best Picture, but it's barely a coherent film. So many plot threads are left untied, the characters bleed together, and Mae West is way more annoying than I expected.
West plays Lady Lou, a seductive nightclub singer with many suitors. There's the morally upright Captain Cummings (Grant), the psychotic escaped convict Chick Clark (Moore), the nightclub owner Gus (Beery), and the foreign but intriguing Serge (Roland). But we don't spend enough time with any of these guys to form any opinions. Most of the film's dialogue is made up of cheap one-liners and doesn't propel what little plot there is forward. There's a whole second-degree murder subplot that completely disappears. Mae West's entire personality is one big double entendre, and the joke gets old really quick.
I don't think She Done Him Wrong is a good representative of what the 1930's had to offer for film. It's boring, pointless, and way too short to be effective. The story that is there makes no logical sense. I think this is one film that should be left behind.