She Done Him Wrong is a 1933 pre-Code American crime/comedy film produced by Paramount Pictures and starring Mae West and Cary Grant. Its plot includes melodramatic and musical elements, with a supporting cast featuring Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, Sr., Rochelle Hudson, and Louise Beavers. It was directed by Lowell Sherman and produced by William LeBaron. The movie is famous for West's many double entendres and quips, including her best-known (and frequently misquoted), "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?"
The film was adapted from the successful Broadway play Diamond Lil by Mae West. The Hays Code declared the play banned from the screen and repeatedly demanded changes to remove associations with or elements from the play, including suggested titles with the word "diamond". The adaption was finally allowed under the condition that the play not be referred to in publicity or advertising.
Blonde Venus (with Marlene Dietrich) and Madame Butterfly (with Sylvia Sidney), both predate She Done Him Wrong but West always claimed to have discovered Grant for her film, claiming that until then Grant had only made "some tests with starlets".
The script was adapted by Harvey F. Thew and John Bright. Original music was composed by Ralph Rainger, John Leipold and Stephan Pasternacki. Charles Lang was responsible for the cinematography, while the costumes were designed by Edith Head.
The story is set in New York City in the 1890s. A bawdy singer, Lady Lou (Mae West), works in the Bowery barroom saloon of her boss and benefactor, Gus Jordan (Noah Beery), who has given her many diamonds. But Lou is a lady with more men friends than anyone might imagine.
What she does not know is that Gus trafficks in prostitution and runs a counterfeiting ring to help finance her expensive diamonds. He also sends young women to San Francisco to be pickpockets. Gus works with two other crooked entertainer-assistants, Russian Rita (Rafaela Ottiano) and Rita's lover, the suave Sergei Stanieff (Gilbert Roland). One of Gus's rivals and former "friend" of Lou's, named Dan Flynn (David Landau), spends most of the movie dropping hints to Lou that Gus is up to no good, promising to look after her once Gus is in jail. Lou leads him on, hinting at times that she will return to him, but eventually he loses patience and implies he'll see her jailed if she doesn't submit to him.
A city mission (a thinly disguised Salvation Army) is located next door to the bar. Its young director, Captain Cummings (Cary Grant), is in reality an undercover Federal agent working to infiltrate and expose the illegal activities in the bar. Gus suspects nothing; he worries only that Cummings will reform his bar and scare away his customers.
Lou's former boyfriend, Chick Clark (Owen Moore), is a vicious criminal who was convicted of robbery and sent to prison for trying to steal diamonds for her. In his absence, she becomes attracted to the handsome young psalm-singing reformer.
Warned that Chick thinks she's betrayed him, she goes to the prison to try to reassure him. All the inmates greet her warmly and familiarly as she walks down the cellblock. Chick becomes angry and threatens to kill her if she double-crosses or two-times him before he gets out. She lies and claims she has been true to him. Gus gives counterfeit money to Rita and Sergei to spend. Chick escapes from jail, and police search for him in the bar. He comes into Lou's room and starts to strangle her, breaking off only because he still loves her and cannot harm her. Lou calms him down by promising that she will go with him when she finishes her next number.
After Sergei gives Lou a diamond pin belonging to Rita, Rita starts a fight with Lou, who accidentally stabs her to death. Lou calmly combs the dead woman's long hair to hide the fact Rita is dead while the police search the room for Chick Clark. She has her bodyguard Spider (Dewey Robinson), who "would do anything for you, Lou" dispose of Rita's body. She then tells Spider to bring Chick, who's hiding in an alley, back to her room upstairs. Then, while she sings "Frankie and Johnny", she silently signals to Dan Flynn that he should go to her room to wait for her, even though she knows Chick is in there with a gun. Chick shoots Dan dead and the gunfire draws a police raid. Cummings shows his badge and reveals himself as "The Hawk", a well-known Federal agent, as he arrests Gus and Sergei. Chick, still lurking in Lou's room, is about to kill Lou for double-crossing him, when Cummings also apprehends him.
Cummings then takes Lou away in an open horse-drawn carriage instead of the paddywagon into which all the other criminals have been loaded. He tells her she doesn't belong in jail and removes all her other rings and slips a diamond engagement ring onto her marriage finger.
The film was a box-office success, grossing $2,000,000 domestically with a budget of $200,000. Variety's "Bige" gave She Done Him Wrong a negative review stating that Paramount was attempting to rush Mae West to stardom by giving her her own film and top billing, and that the film was not very good without known actors and an entertaining story.
She Done Him Wrong was nominated for an Academy Award for Outstanding Production, now known as Best Picture. At 66 minutes, it is the shortest film ever to be so honored.
In 1996, She Done Him Wrong was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
1998: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – Nominated
2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #75
2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
"Frankie and Johnny" – Nominated
2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
Lady Lou: "Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" – #26
2007: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – Nominated
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: