The Lady Eve (1941)

Written & Directed by Preston Sturges

Hello Preston Sturges. How are you doing? The whole purpose of this marathon is to introduce myself to great directors I have either never seen or seen very little of. Preston Sturges is a director I have not seen. Looking over his filmography, I do not readily recognize any of his films, but I know this means nothing, especially considering he worked in the 40s and 50s. So when The Lady Eve came on TCM, and I knew it was on my marathon list, I jumped at the chance to introduce myself to Filmspotters’ #94 best director of all-time.

The Lady Eve stars two actors I know by name, but not much by performance. Barbara Stanwyck is a mystery of an actress to me. Certainly I have heard of her, yet I have not seen her on screen until now. Henry Fonda comes in with a great reputation, and while I have seen him before, my experience is limited, especially when it comes to his earlier work. Both deliver in this Sturges romantic comedy. The story was not was captured my attention. While original and witty, it is the performances that shine through in this film most for me. Stanwyck plays a cardsharp (I always thought it was shark) who falls in love with the son of a wealthy adult beverage company owner (Fonda). Or does she. I said this is a romantic comedy, but it is unique in its storyline and delivery within that genre.

There are plenty of moments of slapstick comedy involving Fonda, who delivers a delightful performance here as Charlie Pike. These are the moments I liked best, but Stanwyck as the “Lady Eve” who tempts our hero into falling in love with her, is spectacular as well. Without these performances, the film could be lost amongst so many other romantic comedies. But the performances have to come from somewhere. Certainly they are great actors, but credit too must be given to director Sturges for his storytelling abilities. This was a good introduction to his work I fell. Even if I wasn’t completely blown away, I can see the quality of his work and can see appreciating the man as I delve more into his filmography.

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