Based on a play called Diamond Lil, when Paramount Pictures purchased the film rights the censorship office sent a memo that basically said You will not be turning Diamond Lil into a movie. It was extremely racy and raunchy--I guess it was too much, even in the pre-Code days. So Mae West rewrote the script to make it more subtle--when I learned this, I was shocked. Because this movie isn't exactly subtle.
I had two thoughts while watching this movie. First, I would ride Cary Grant like I stole him. Seriously, he looks amazing in that film--of course, he was only 29 in 1933. Still young and very handsome. Plus, he looked amazing in that uniform. And as for Mae West? I would totally go gay for her--and then thank her for the opportunity. Oddly enough, I respond to real (almost aggressive) displays of femininity. And I also like men who are almost too pretty to be men. But this isn't the time or the place to get into that.
This film is only an hour long, but there's a lot happening in just sixty minutes. First there's the romance between Lou and Captain Cummings, but there's also several subplots that all get tied together rather deftly at the end. Not to mention that the script is hilarious and I had several laugh-out-loud moments. I think the later movies, after the Code, do a great job of being subtle and remaining funny, but you know, there's something to be said for the real bawdy stuff that leaves very little to the imagination.
There's also something to be said for a woman who knows her own sexuality and clearly enjoys having sex.
Captain Cummings: Haven't you ever met a man who made you happy?
Lou: Sure, I did. Lots of times.
She doesn't apologize for it. She doesn't act like she's doing anything wrong. She's not a martyr. Diamonds are her business and the choir lost. I think, ultimately, that's my favorite thing about the movie. Yes, Cary Grant is hot, but Mae West is sexual and she doesn't make any excuses for that. I don't know if I could ever be like her, but I'd sure like to write a few characters that would make her proud.