Paramount Publix
Lowell Sherman
William LeBaron
Mae West
February 1933
66 minutes
Mae West, Cary Grant, Owen Moore, Noah Beery, Gilbert Roland and Rafaela Ottiano
Made in 1933 and, controversially, based on her infamous Broadway hit, “Diamond Lil”, “She Done Him Wrong” was a massive personal success for Mae West and a huge hit at the box office for Paramount.
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Both Mae and the studio were keen to get the film into production but all of Paramount’s leading men of the day were tied up on other projects. According to Mae, she saw the young Cary Grant on the lot one day and said, “If he can talk, I’ll have him”. Well, he could and she did!
Much of the seedy backdrop of “Lil” is missing from the film so it is far less subversive and much more amusing than the play. It has lots of plot, terrific gags, a great supporting cast and three super songs, “A Guy What Takes His Time”, “I Wonder Where’s My Easy Rider’s Gone” and “Frankie and Johnny”.

A verse from “Frankie and Johnny” was cut from the film at the very last minute on account it was too racy (I’m guessing the censors didn’t like the line “Why did you shoot so low?”). But the censor must have had his ear-muffs on when he listened to the songs he let past because he missed some very subversive lines - the titles alone are extremely racy!
The film gave Edith Head her big break. Travis Banton, Paramount’s head of Wardrobe, was otherwise engaged and Edith, his second in command, was given the film to dress. Mae liked what she saw and so began a life-long professional and personal association.