She Done Him Wrong, from 1933, stars Mae West & Cary Grant. West is and remains one of the sexiest women on film, even though she did her movies fully clothed.
Many of her wonderful risque double entendres are still quoted today. This movie features some of them and you have to pay attention to catch them all.
The movie is based on a play written by Mae West herself called Diamond Lil, which she also starred in. It originally opened in 1928 at the Royale Theatre in new York and was a huge hit. It was revived 3 times between 1949 and 1951, each time starring Mae West.
At 66 minutes, this is the shortest movie to ever receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. It also made Cary Grant a star. It was West’s second film and the only Mae West film to receive an Academy Award nomination.
Mae was born in Brooklyn in 1893 to parents who worked in boxing and in vaudeville. She worked on the stage and in vaudeville from the time she was five years old and later began writing her own plays.
One of those plays, Sex, landed her in jail for ten days on obscenity charges in 1926. Though her first movie role was a small part with George Raft in Night After Night (1932), her scene has become famous.
A coat check girl exclaims, "Goodness! What lovely diamonds!", after seeing Mae's jewelry. Mae replies, "Goodness had nothing to do with it".
Raft himself said of West, "She stole everything but the cameras."
She made her third film later that year, I'm No Angel (1933). The controversy aroused by these two films resulted in the studios establishing the Motion Picture Production Code, which regulated what content could be shown or said in pictures.
She Done Him Wrong was one of the last films to be made before the introduction of the Production Code. And the National Legion of Decency was formed in October of 1933, six months after the release of this film. Legion officials cited Mae West and the film as one of the major reasons for the "necessity" of the organization.
Mae West and Rafaela Ottiano repeat their original stage roles from the play Diamond Lil, although, in the film, Lil's name is changed to Lou.
She Done Him Wrong was shot in approximately three weeks. In this film, Mae West was sewn into most of her costumes.
By 1936, West was the highest paid woman in the US.
During World War II, US Navy and Army pilots and crewmen in the Pacific named their inflatable life vests after her, supposedly because of her well-endowed attributes. The term "Mae West" for a life jacket continues to this day.
Once when she was scheduled to play a theater in New Haven, CT, the theater's management refused to let her go on because her act was too "risqué" and canceled the show. Disappointed Yale University students rioted and wrecked the theater.
She appears on sleeve of The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. At first she declined to be pictured on the cover ("What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?!"), but reconsidered when the Beatles sent her a handwritten personal request.
Her films are credited with single-handedly saving debt-ridden Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy in the early 1930s. At one point, her chauffeur was Jerry Orbach, who is best known for playing Detective Lennie Briscoe on the Law & Order TV series.
Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí created one of his most iconic works influenced by her: Mae West's Lips Sofa (1937).
The Coca-Cola bottle was said to have been designed with Mae West's figure as inspiration.
The actress appeared in only 12 films in 46 years but remains one of Hollywood’s most enduring stars.
Some of her lines are among the greatest on film:
A hard man is good to find.
When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad, I'm better.
Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?
I only like two kinds of men: domestic and foreign.
Too much of a good thing is wonderful.
Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere else.
I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
I do all my writing in bed; everybody knows I do my best work there.
Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach in Bristol, England, and left home when he was 14 to join a traveling troupe of comedians. He came to the US in 1920 as a stilt walker with the same troupe to tour the US. When the troupe returned to England, Grant stayed.
He went to Hollywood in 1931, where he acquired the stage name Cary Lockwood and worked at Paramount Pictures. But while studio bosses were impressed with him, they were less than impressed with his adopted stage name.
They decided that the name Cary was OK, but Lockwood had to go due to a similarity with another actor's name. It was after browsing through a list of the studio's preferred surnames, that Cary Grant was born.
Grant chose the name because the initials C and G had already proved lucky for Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.