Most romantic film #52: She Done Him Wrong (1933)

The 16th is the publication date of MARRYING MARI, so in celebration October is Cary Grant month on my blog. I explain below.

The first entry is SHE DONE HIM WRONG, the 1933 comedy pairing Grant with Mae West. The screenplay was adapted from West’s own Broadway play Diamond Lil.

Set in New York’s Bowery in the 1890s, the thin plot follows Lady Lou (West), a barroom singer with many men friends. Those who want her attention give her diamonds, and as the film opens she’s getting her diamonds from her boss-beau. What she doesn’t know is that he’s running a white slavery ring as well as counterfeiting scheme to get those diamonds. She meets the captain of a salvation mission (Grant) who is, in reality, a Federal agent trying to catch the criminals.

The script is filled with West’s signature humor, sexy and broad (no pun). Lou (and West) is street-smart, sophisticated woman and when she catches sight of Grant, no matter that he wears a mission uniform: it’s like a starving woman seeing a big bucket of dark chocolate with sea salt caramel.

Or is that just me?

Oh, and it’s pre-code, meaning no censors erased the double entendres and loaded puns.

One of the things I love love love about this film, too, is the costuming by Edith Head. West’s voluptuous figure and petite height look great in the hourglass dresses of the 1890s. In The Dress Doctor, Head says of West, “Behind the silken slink was the iron structure of a bright businesswoman and a bright businesswoman’s fine mind. She knew what she knew…” which is a great tribute.

This was Grant’s second starring role, preceded by Blonde Venus and followed by I’m No Angel, another West vehicle. The early Grant was an unrepentant play-uh boy-man who smirked and chuckled a lot. Appealing in a rascally manner.

It turns out I am a HUGE Grant fan. Each week I’ll also be noting an earlier post where I talked about a different Grant film. This week: entry #1, Notorious.

The scene above is featured in MARRYING MARI, a point of discussion between the lovers. Oh, yeah.

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