Monday, October 13, 2008

The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve; Romantic comedy, USA, 1941; D: Preston Sturges, S: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn

Charles Pike is a coiled snake scientist who spent a year in the Amazon rain forest. But he is also the son of the very rich drinks manufacturer, which is the main reason why all the women in the ship heading towards the US are turning their heads towards him. But the only one who manages to seduce him is Jean, a professional con-artist who, together with her father, wants to rob him in poker. But when she really falls in love with him he rejects her because he discovered she is a con artist. Still, Jean doesn't give up and thus dresses up as Lady Eve and seduces Charles. After the wedding she tells him the truth.

On the critics' site "Lady Eve" got an incredibly high average grade of 8.7/10. Even though such a reputation is quite exaggerated, especially compared to Capra's ideologically similar masterwork "One Night", even romantic comedy "Lady Eve" is an impressive an hardly dated movie. The jokes that are served by the famous Preston Sturges are more neat and childish than they are funny, but posses a fine dose of sharpness, for instance, when Jean observes the unsuccessful attempts of ladies to seize the attention of the rich Charles in the reflection of her mirror or when Jean's father, a master cheater, uses a move of reaching for a giant handkerchief to disguise how he replaced his set of cards with the one full of aces. Even though the "disguise" plot in the last third seems terribly naive today, the sequence in which Charles breaks up with Jean is surprisingly touching and melancholic. The screenplay was nominated for an Oscar.


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