For Reel

She Done Him Wrong (1933)
March 1, 2015, 1:24 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lowell Sherman
3 Stars
She Done Him WrongIt was some miracle that She Done Him Wrong came to be. Mae West, the famous (or infamous) star of Broadway, did not seem like she’d make an easy transition to Hollywood, which even in the relatively liberal pre-Code era was often producing puritanical entertainments. But famously West was able to rework her controversial hit Diamond Lil into She Done Him Wrong for Paramount Pictures, shifting fortunes and upping the morale of a studio verging on bankruptcy. It’s easy to see the appeal of the film–it revels in the dinginess of the after-hours, involving a grocery list of sins and the shockingly blunt West forgoing subtlety altogether for a celebration of sexuality. Despite its historical importance, however, reading a few of West’s choice quips is about as memorable as the picture. It’s a mess of cobbled together ideas, loosely tied together in a half-baked, confusing plot. Charles Lang’s visuals offer the expected pleasures–the way he photographs beer is just as pornographic as any of West’s innuendos–but ultimately West’s schtick doesn’t permeate beyond the surface pleasures without a satisfying context.

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