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Mae West and the look

by Critical Commons Manager

Mae West is nearly unique among female performers in Hollywood in the extent to which she controls the visual register through her own choreographed looks and movement around the set, creating a complex power dynamic both among characters on screen and in her own relationship with the audience. In this scene from the pre-code film She Done Him Wrong, West both looks and is looked at, while the audience is invited to identify with her own visual pleasure and sadistic control over a young Cary Grant. At the same time, this scene is choreographed to created opportunities for West to strut provocatively around the room, leaving little for the audience (and its onscreen surrogate Grant) to do but watch.

Mae West and Cary Grant in She Done Him Wrong

This type of verbal sparring laced with sexual innuendo and atheism provoked the wrath of the Catholic Legion of Decency

from She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Creator: Lowell Sherman
Distributor: Paramount
Posted by Critical Commons Manager