Atmospherically, She Done Him Wrong is interesting since it takes audiences back to the 1890s and inside a Bowery free-and-easy, but mostly following a few highlights in the career of Diamond Lou, nee Lil.
Director Lowell Sherman turns in a commendable job. He tackles the script with a tongue-in-cheek attitude that takes nothing too seriously, and he restrains Mae West from going too far.
The locale, the clothes and the types are interesting, and so is West in her picture hats, straight jacket gowns and with so much jewelry that she looks like a Knickerbocker ice plant.
Deletions in the script from its original 1928 legit form [Diamond Lil by Mae West] are few, with only the roughest of the rough stuff out. White slavery angle is thinly disguised, with the girls instead shipped to Frisco to pick pockets. Character titles are changed only slightly, such as from Lil to Lou, etc. The swan bed is in, but for a flash only, with West doing her stuff on the chaise lounge in this version.
Numerous ex-vaudevillians besides West in the cast, including Cary Grant, the soul-saver; Fuzzy Knight, who whips a piano, and Grace La Rue. The latter, who headlined when West was chasing acrobats in the No. 2 spot, has a bit. Rafaela Ottiano, who does Rita, is a carry-over from the original legit cast.
With this strong line-up and others, including Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, David Landau and Owen Moore as background, they’re never permitted to be anything more than just background. West gets all the lens gravy and full figure most of the time.
1932/33: Nomination: Best Picture