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The Mae West Film that Helped Save Paramount Pictures


The Mae West film “She Done Him Wrong” was credited with helping to bring Paramount Pictures out of bankruptcy. It also helped make her a star in Hollywood and gave her the opportunity to turn a childhood dream — involving very large cats — into a reality.


(groovy music) - Mae West's film, 'She Done Him Wrong' gave everybody in the smallest town and the biggest city a chance to actually see her.

It was released in February of 1933, just after FDR is elected.

(crowd roaring) And a lot of people see her and FDR as kind of a new spirit that seizes America.

The film generates so much box office that by June, according to Paramount, it was able to climb out of bankruptcy.

- [Tour Guide] And now folks, we are entering the gates that so many have tried to climb and hoped to pass.

Within these portals you may see such famous stars as the Marx Brothers, Mae West, Cary Grant and many of your other favorites.

- [Historian] It catapults her into the limelight, into success.

(crowd murmuring) - [Announcer] And now the huge crowd is awed as the star of stars makes her appearance.

Mae West has come to town.

- People wanted to escape into the movies.

The poverty, the difficulty, the bread lines.

And Mae West created an image of this beautiful woman, walking around in these extraordinary clothes.

The glamor of 1930s Hollywood depended a lot on Mae West.

- I'm up here at Mr. Forman's beautiful theater to see the grand opening, the premier of my new picture, 'I'm No Angel.'

Of course, I didn't call it 'I'm No Angel,' for nothing.

Don't forget, come up and see me sometime.

- Paramount came and said, 'Well, we need another film for you.

'So what would you like to do?'

She actually wanted to be a lion tamer as a child.

And so she wrote 'I'm No Angel' and she portrays Tira the lion tamer.

(triumphant music) - Tira, the million dollar beauty!

- [Analyst] It was a childhood fulfillment.

(crowd clapping) - [Commentator] There she is.

Making an entrance into the circus in Madison Square Garden on a big beautiful elephant and there she is whipping the lions into a performance.

- [Tira] Come on, there!

- Come on.

A woman training lions?

Putting her head in a lion's mouth?

So she's thinking of ways to show herself An original woman.


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