Good early Sturges.
- The Lady Eve review by Steve Mason
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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