Rent The Lady Eve (1941)

3.7 of 5 from 149 ratings
1h 29min
Rent The Lady Eve Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Barbara Stanwyck sizzles, Henry Fonda bumbles, and Preston Sturges runs riot in one of the all-time great screwballs, a pitch-perfect blend of comic zing and swoonworthy romance. Aboard a cruise liner sailing up the coast of South America, Stanwyck's conniving card sharp sets her sights on Fonda's nerdy snake researcher, who happens to be the heir to a brewery fortune. But when the con artist falls for her mark, her grift becomes a game of hearts - and she is determined to win it all.
One in a string of matchless comedic marvels that Sturges wrote and directed as part of a dazzling 1940s run, this gender-flipped battle-of-wits farce is perhaps his most emotionally satisfying work, tempering its sparkling humor with a streak of tender poignancy supplied by the sensational Stanwyck at her peak.
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Monckton Hoffe, Preston Sturges
Universal Pictures
Classics, Comedy, Romance
Release Date:
Run Time:
89 minutes
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
B & W
Release Date:
Run Time:
94 minutes
English LPCM Mono
English Hard of Hearing
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.37:1
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
  • Audio commentary from 2001 featuring film scholar Marian Keane
  • Introduction from 2001 by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich
  • New conversation among writer-director Preston Sturges's biographer and son Tom Sturges; Bogdanovich; filmmakers James L Brooks and Ron Shelton; and critics Susan King, Leonard Maltin, and Kenneth Turan
  • New video essay by film critic David Cairns
  • Costume designs by Edith Head
  • Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film from 1942 featuring Barbara Stanwyck and Ray Milland
  • Audio recording from 2013 of "Up the Amazon," a song from an unproduced stage musical based on the film
  • Trailer

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Reviews (1) of The Lady Eve

Good early Sturges. - The Lady Eve review by Steve

Spoiler Alert

 The second match-up of Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda after The Mad Miss Manton (1938) really catches fire, with Henry deadpanning as the dull rich klutz ('snakes are my life') and Barbara sparkling as a confidence girl, seeking to fleece him at cards but who falls in love with him. After he catches on that he was her mark and cuts her off, she pretends to be the lady Eve, an English aristocrat, and seduces him all over again...  just so she can jilt him.

 At the end of the screwball cycle, Preston Sturges began to write and direct films in that style at the moment the comedy climate began to darken around him. They feel a little like pastiches, and The Lady Eve owes much to Bringing Up Baby (1938) and Libelled Lady (1936) in particular.

 Sturges stepped up the slapstick. Fonda takes as many pratfalls in this film as anyone in a Blake Edwards film. There isn't that much verbal wit on show. But Fonda deals with this physical comedy surprisingly well. There's a fine support cast that Sturges would take from film to film, with Eric Blore standing out as a con man posing as an an English Lord (and Lady Eve's uncle).

 Stanwyck is appealing in a dual role and supplies the sassy romance the rather cute plot demands. It feels an inconsequential film, but it is very entertaining and its stars provide all the necessary charm. 

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