Mon, 13 January 2020
From R. Barton Palmer, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die:
"In the early 1930s, Hollywood - beset with financial difficulties and production problems related to the conversion to sound cinema - turned to stage performers of proven popularity to lure customers back to the theaters. Among the most notable of these was Mae West, whose play Diamond Lil (which she wrote as a kind of showcase of her several talents) was immensely successful on Broadway and elsewhere. West proved a happy choice for Paramount, because her unique brand of sophisticated if bawdy humor easily translated on screen; her first film, Night After Night (1932), was a big hit with audiences. West's antics, especially her famous double entendres and sleazy style, offended religious conservatives of the time and hastened the foundation of the Breen Office in 1934 to enforce the Production Code (promulgated, but widely ignored, in the early 1930s). West's post-1934 films, although interesting, never recaptured the appeal of her earlier work, of which She Done Him Wrong - the screen adaptation of Diamond Lil - is the most notable example, even garnering an Academy Award nomination.
"West plays a 'saloon keeper' in New York's Bowery who is involved with various criminals in the neighborhood. As Lady Lou, West is pursued by two local entrepreneurs and her fiance is just released from jail, but she is hardly in need of a man as she inhabits lavish quarters above her establishment, replete with servants and an impression collection of diamond jewelry. Lou, however, is smitten by her new neighbor, the head of the Salvation Army mission (Cary Grant). Her initial appraisal of the younger man's attractiveness is part of Hollywood legend. To Grant she utters the famous line 'Why don't you come up sometime, see me.' As a demonstration of her affection (and power), she uses some of her considerable hoard of diamonds to purchase his mission and make him a present of it. In the end, Grant is revealed as a detective who promptly takes all the crooks into custody, but 'imprisons' Lou quite differently - with a wedding ring. A classic Hollywood comedy, full of naughtiness and good humor."
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