“Haven't you ever met a man that could make you happy?”
“Sure, lots of times.”
Ever since I got into films and TV shows all my favorite characters and occasionally actresses have been feisty kick ass women with loads of attitude and snark. I am a shy introverted person lacking in confidence and those types of women with attitude and sass who say the wittiest snarkiest lines and just exude confidence from the screen were women I have always wanted to be. In times of self doubt and nervousness I occasionally ask myself what a certain character would do or say. A new actress and her characters I now will forever look up to for inspiration as well as hilarity and sass is Mae West. I will forever adore her and her film She Done Him Wrong.
In the 1890s the Bowery in New York City was a place of sin, corruption, and wonderful drunken nights and entertainment. Men would crowd the dancehalls to drink and see half naked women on stage sing and dance all for their pleasure. One dancehall in the Bowery is pretty popular for its owner and main attraction Lady Lou (West). Despite being a singer in a dancehall and a woman of loose morals everyone adores her. Underneath her tough sexy exterior she is a kind woman willing to give a helping hand.
One day a young girl named Sally comes into the dancehall all distraught and in shambles. She goes into a room and tries to kill herself but she is stopped by one of the workers. Lou hears all the commotion downstairs and has the girl brought up to her dressing room. She talks to Sally asking her what has caused her to want to kill herself. As Lou puts it a man has “done her wrong” which is the same story she always hears. Lou has to go on stage so she leaves Sally in the care of Gus and Rita. When Lou leaves the room the two start grilling Sally about what happened and if she would be willing to work a job they would give her.
Lou hears her old boyfriend Chick wants to see her. He has been in a jail for a while so she has to travel to him. As Lou walks the cell block all the men call out to her since she had once gone around with all of them. Chick just wanted to make sure that Lou stays faithful to him or he will kill her. Lou promises but you can tell the promise is not genuine especially since she is falling for a new guy named Captain Cummings (Cary Grant) who works at the mission next door to the dancehall. Lou has got it bad for Cummings because he did not look at her the way other men do. He really does like her for her. She wants to help out the mission next door for Cummings after she hears it might be closing down. Lou meets with the building’s owner and strikes up a deal without her name being on any papers.
A cop named Flynn comes to speak to Lou after one of her numbers. He tells her that there is a cop in the police force simply known as The Hawk. No one knows who he is but he has been cleaning up all the corruption in the Bowery. Apparently this Hawk knows all about Gus and Rita’s side business that makes them a lot of money. Lou claims to have no knowledge of their other business and none too pleased to hear that if Gus goes down she will go down him.
That night Chick climbs through the window. He has escaped from jail and wants to take Lou away with him. When she refuses he tries to choke her to death but he cannot go through with it. Chick then spends his time behind the alley stalking Lou.
Sometime later, Sergi (Gilber Roland), Rita’s new toy, goes to Lou to try to seduce her. Lou had flirted with him before and just sees him as another good looking man to get with. Rita comes barging in the room and becomes infuriated with jealousy. Sergi leaves the room and Rita goes after Lou with a knife. Lou manages to grab the knife. She did plan on doing anything with the weapon. Rita comes at her again and accidentally runs into the knife that Lou was holding at her side. With the worst timing ever the police come by looking for Gus. Since Rita collapsed in the chair Lou pretends to be brushing the dead woman’s hair out and the police suspect nothing. Lou has a guy named Spider get rid of Rita’s body.
Before her performance that night Lou has Spider tell Chick to meet her in her room. As she performs she spots Flynn in a balcony seat and signals Chick’s location. When Flynn walks in Chick opens fire and shoots the cop. Soon the dancehall is in chaos and the police come in full force. Cummings storms in gun in hand. Turns out he does not work for the mission and is in fact the notorious Hawk. Cummings makes it appear as if he is arresting Lou and taking her to the police carriage with the other criminals. He actually hails another cab where he asks Lou to marry him.
There are no words to express how much I adored Mae West in this film. This is the first time I have ever seen West in a film before! I know bad me. From the moment she came on screen with this unbelievable confidence I was a fan. Every line that came out of her mouth and every movement she made was perfection. West was one of the writers of the story which makes her character and the story that much better. Cary Grant was a baby he was so young and ridiculously gorgeous. The more films I see Grant in the more I am convinced the man could have had this crazy sexual chemistry with a broom and I would love it. That would be incredibly weird but you get the point the man was just beautiful and extremely talented. There is a scene where West and Grant were flirting on the stairs… if I watch that scene again anytime soon it may be my official cause of death because it was so hot! Gilbert Roland was also a drop dead sexy human being. He also had a very sexy scene with Mae West that was hot as hell. Owen Moore played Chick. I may have seen him in a film before and it was mostly likely a silent film because he was married to Mary Pickford and they were quite possibly in a film together (the lazy ass that I am has no desire at this time to look through my blog to see if I have watched that film). He was a decent actor he was perfect as Chick.
She Done Him Wrong is without a doubt one of my favorite Pre-Code films and now one of my all time favorites. And that is all thanks to Mae West. You can feel all her sexuality and her attitude through the screen. She Done Him Wrong is funny and at times dramatic and they worked together wonderfully. It is such an entertaining film. She Done Him Wrong is a film I highly recommend especially to those women who need someone to up for inspiration for confidence and for those that love Pre-Code films.