falderal : a moving images blog
The Lady Eve ; 1941  ·  Posted by Tallulah

Director: Preston Sturges
Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest
Country: U.S.A.

The Lady Eve is the first film I watched that Sturges directed, and can I say that I adore this film? Really. While watching it the first time around, I was a bit bored in the beginning, but it was the little things that kept me going and the second half of the film was great beyond words. In retrospect, I think the pace of the film in the first half and then the second half reflects what is going on. I HIGHLY recommend this film to anyone! Barbara Stanwyck is as lovable as she could be in this film and is intelligent and beautiful, and Henry Fonda plays the role of naïve Charles “Hopsie” Pike perfectly.

I’m not going to give away much of the story and I’m not going to analyze this film because it’s so enjoyable that I want people to watch it for at least that one reason. Sure, I can analyze it, but I simply don’t want to! Even after doing a plot segmentation of this film for a class, I still like it; actually, the plot segmentation made me appreciate this film even more, particularly the script. I am definitely in the boat with The Lady Eve fans.

It’s the little things that make the film great and I’m going to just point out some of my favourite parts of this film.
Starting with the credits, can you deny the cuteness of that? I’ve never seen an animation for credits in old films and I did read that it was because the real snake in the film was uncooperative thus Sturges settled for the cartoon. I thought it was a cute and whimsical touch to the film, especially at the end of the credits when the snake weaves through the O in Preston Sturges’ name and then gets stuck. I wondered why the snake had a maraca on its tail, but maybe it is to reflect Charles studying at the Amazon? I have no idea.

When Jean (Barbara Stanwyck) is using her mirror to spy on Charles, the way she talks, the way the whole scene is filmed, and how her monologue fits in with the scene is, for the lack of better words, perfect. The whole scene was incredibly amusing to watch and it was one of the moments in the beginning of the film that made me keep watching it. I can say that without a doubt, it is one of my favourite scenes in this film. It is scenes like these that make me love old films because the lines she says are great. If you get to watch this film, look forward to the section of the scene when she makes up a dialogue, which made me giggle because it worked with what the viewer was seeing.
How can I ever forget that look on Henry Fonda’s face? Oh Barbara, if you were doing that to me, I would be all hot and bothered too! I have to say that I was on the verge of fanning myself because it sure was getting steamy between the two character. While watching this scene, I was completely falling for Jean/Barbara. The chemistry between the two characters and actors was perfect; it was overwhelming to just watch them together! The way Jean was toying with Charles and wrapping him under her finger, just like she was twirling/playing with his hair, was unbelievable, and when she is done with him, his response to the moment they had had me burst out laughing. I am surprised how these scenes were able to pass the Hays Code. The ending also shocked me, but then I understood why they were able to do what they did in the end. I’m sorry for the ambiguous sentences, but you must watch it! The lines about marriage made me chuckle and explained their final action.
Oh and HOW COULD I LEAVE OUT BARBARA STANWYCK’S DRESS IN THE PARTY SCENE!!! Edith Head did a wonderful job with Barbara’s wardrobe because I was drooling over one outfit after another.
And as a fan of classical music, I have to note the wonderful use of Suppé’s Poet and Peasant Overture when Jean is telling her adventures to Charles in the train scene. You just HAVE to watch the film to see how great the train scene is when they are off to their honeymoon because the editing, sound, and the visuals work well together to fit the mood and feel of what is going on between Charles and Jean.

I will leave you with this (as if I didn’t say so already), The Lady Eve is a film that is worth a watch whether you will like it or not. There are so many parts that are cute and the script is so well-written that even if you end up disliking the film, I’m sure that you will at least say, “Well, I did like that one incident when…” or something along those lines. Any film with the line “And I hope he’s got a big, fat wife so I don’t have to dance in the moonlight with him” is good in my books!

IMDb Link: The Lady Eve
Where to buy: Amazon.com

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