She Done Him Wrong

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She Done Him Wrong
She Done Him Wrong (1933 poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLowell Sherman
Screenplay byHarvey F. Thew
John Bright
Based onDiamond Lil
1928 play
by Mae West
Produced byWilliam LeBaron
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byAlexander Hall
Music byJohn Leipold (uncredited)
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • January 27, 1933 (1933-01-27)
Running time
66 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.2 million[2]

She Done Him Wrong is a 1933 pre-Code American crime/comedy film starring Mae West and Cary Grant. The 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 film 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 1928 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.[3]

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".[citation needed]

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, works in the Bowery barroom saloon of her boss and benefactor, Gus Jordan, 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 traffics 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 and Rita's lover, the suave Sergei Stanieff. One of Gus's rivals and former "friend" of Lou's, named Dan Flynn, 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 is located next door to the bar. Its young director, Captain Cummings, 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, 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, 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 left ring finger.[4]


Mae West in the film


Alternate theatrical release poster with Owen Moore pictured

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,[5] despite the presence of extremely well-known actors Noah Beery Sr. and Owen Moore, not to mention up-and-comer Cary Grant.

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".[6]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


West's famous line to Cary Grant is "Why don't you come up some time and see me?" in She Done Him Wrong. She changed it to "Come up and see me sometime" in her next movie, I'm No Angel, which was released the same year and also co-starred Grant.

She Done Him Wrong bears some resemblances to The Bowery, a Raoul Walsh film released later the same year by United Artists starring Noah Beery's brother Wallace. The two films each include a saloon owner called Chuck Conners, as a main character (played by Wallace Beery) in "The Bowery", and a smaller role (played by Tammany Young) in "She Done Him Wrong".

Louise Beavers was the only African American actress to be brought aboard the film by West personally. She wanted a black woman to appear opposite her; when she did stage and screen work, West made it a point to act with black American actors and actresses, helping to break racial discrimination in entertainment. West's stage shows resulted in her arrest for saucy material and her having black actors on stage was extremely controversial. With this film, she and her Paramount bosses called the shots: black stars appeared in a few of her films after this one.

The animated cartoon short She Done Him Right followed in 1933 as a parody spinoff of She Done Him Wrong.[12]

Universal Pictures, through its EMKA division, currently handles distribution of the film.


  1. ^ "Box office/business for She Done Him Wrong". Retrieved 2009-06-20.
  2. ^ "WHICH CINEMA FILMS HAVE EARNED THE MOST MONEY SINCE 1914?". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. March 4, 1944. p. 3 Supplement: The Argus Weekend magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  3. ^ "She Done Him Wrong (1933) - Notes -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
  4. ^ Green, Stanley (1999) Hollywood Musicals Year by Year (2nd ed.), pub. Hal Leonard Corporation ISBN 0-634-00765-3 page 22
  5. ^ Review in Variety's February 14, 1933 issue,; accessed August 9, 2015.
  6. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-05-11.
  7. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  8. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 24, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  9. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 17, 2015. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  10. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  11. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees (10th Anniversary Edition)" (PDF). Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  12. ^ The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia: 1933. Archived 2011-05-14. Retrieved 6 June 2019.

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