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The Lady Eve
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The Lady Eve More at IMDbPro »

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21 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Why is this a classic?

Author: Zoopansick from Ohio
11 August 2004

I have heard a lot about this movie from various critics and in books, and after seeing it I'm not too impressed. To me it just seemed like a routine studio romantic comedy from the 30s or 40s. It didn't have a unique storyline or great ending. Even the "famous scene" was just Fonda lying on the floor looking stupid while Stanwyck tricks him into loving her. In fact I can barely remember the context of her speech let alone any funny/memorable lines from it (and i just watched the movie). Now I realize that modern taste in comedy is a lot different from what was considered funny back then; but movies like "Bringing up Baby" most of the Marx Bros. films and Abbott and Costello are all funnier to me then this. Fonda is especially bland and unfunny (oh wait, he's always bland and unfunny) in his role as the overly stupid wealthy bachelor. He trips over stuff but has no funny lines and is vanilla as per usual. Stanwyck is much better, and keeps things lively on her end. Also to the films credit the pace is quick and things move along. The movie wasn't horrible or anything like that, but I don't see why this particular movie became as famous as it did in front of any of the hundreds and hundreds of other studio releases from the same time period. If your video store still caries old vhs tapes why don't you try out this experiment...Rent The Lady Eve, and then rent like 3 other old comedies from the late 30s and early 40s. Then ask yourself, does this movie standout from the others; and if so why? If you answer "yes", come back here and explain it to me, I'd love to know why.


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Fun but nonsensical

Author: jbirks106 from Washington, DC
23 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I realize that the screwball comedy genre has its own kind of logic, but "The Lady Eve" strikes me as having no logic at all. Though well written, which one expects from a Sturges film, I came away with the unsettling sense that the audience was being played for suckers.

The turning point in the film appears to be the moment when Hopsie was presented with a photo of Jean and her father as evidence of their swindling career. This can come as no surprise to the audience, which has already seen how the Colonel can turn a five-card nothing into four kings, then four aces. But can a supposed scientist (I forget the proper name for "snake hunter") be so gullible as to fall for his blatant card-sharpery? And when he confronts Jean with the photo, can his sense of betrayal and humiliation really be so shocking to her?

Yet this event sends Jean on a completely preposterous crusade of revenge. What exactly is her trick? To pose as an upper-class Brit who, by coincidence, looks exactly like Jean. And though Muggsy, Hopsie's dimwit ward, sees though the imposture immediately, our scientist falls for it, literally and figuratively, in no time.

Jean/Eve finally delivers the coup de grace while on their honeymoon -- in a train, of course. As she divulges her numerous supposed dalliances, Sturges intercuts shots of train whistles, lightning and the obligatory tunnel. Maybe this Freudian stuff was novel back in 1941; today it verges on self- parody. Watching Hopsie detrain with a muddy pratfall (one of literally dozens in the film), Eve/Jean seems to have an attack of conscience, as though she's just now realizing he "the only man I ever loved."

Stanwyck is sensational, even if her character(s) make no sense at all. William Demarest is very good, and occasionally hilarious, as Muggsy. The whole case, in fact, is first-rate. But Fonda's character is impossible to sympathize with, let alone root for, so improbably clueless and clumsy is Hopsie. Is he really surprised that an English aristocrat is not a virgin (the whole point of the setup)? Is he really so stupid as to fall for a grifter not once, but twice? Yes, evidently he is. It's clear to me that his real element is with the snakes of the Amazon, not those of Connecticut.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

She needs him like the ax needs the turkey!

Author: lauraeileen894 from United States
4 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not many actors could make an unscrupulous, vindictive cardsharp lovable. Then again, not every actor is Barbara Stanwyck, and she accomplishes this daunting task beautifully in "The Lady Eve". Jean Harrington (Stanwyck) and her father, the "Colonel" (James Coburn), are a daughter/father con artist team who prey on unwitting rich folks on cruise ships. On one such cruise, they meet their richest, most naive victim: Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), a hopelessly gullible reptile lover who's just spent a year in the Amazon. He's been far away from civilization... and from women, so imagine his stunned reaction when sexy, worldly Jean makes a pass at him. Jean initially just wants Charles's money, but she unexpectedly falls in love. Charles, however, finds out about Jean and her father's shady ways and unceremoniously dumps her. This really throws Jean for a loop: she's used to breaking hearts, not having her own broken. She's refuses to let some pampered rich boy permanently wound her pride, so she decides to exact her own unique revenge on the deserving Charles...

"The Lady Eve" is indeed a fine comedy, but I didn't quite love it as much as I thought I would. I think it's because, in the end, they completely de-claw Jean and have her throw herself back at Charles. I don't care what anyone says: there's no way a vibrant, feisty, independent woman like Jean would ever fall for an effete nincompoop like Charles. She may be a con artist, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't have standards! I thought Charles could have been written better; there's a huge difference between innocence and stupidity. I much preferred the relationship between Jean and her father. While hardly a good role model, he obviously loves his daughter and even supports her when she toys with the idea of going on the straight and narrow to win Charles.

Stanwyck owns this movie. Like Bette Davis, she was never a conventional, classic beauty, but it was her confidence, style, and way she carried herself that made her a knockout. Stanwyck also gets to don gorgeous Edith Head dresses, including that resplendent, sparkling white gown with cap sleeves (you have any idea how hard it is to carry off cap sleeves?) that she wears when she re-enters Charles's life.

So, in my humble opinion, the romance falls a little flat, but the comedy sure doesn't! To see Stanwyck at her most seductive and Henry Fonda at his most ridiculous, don't miss "The Lady Eve".

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

small time cheats on the prowl

Author: ksf-2 from southwest US
6 April 2005

small time card cheats Charles Coburn and Barbara Stanwyck meet up with Henry Fonda, the rich heir to Pike's Ale, on a cruise ship. At first, they try to take his money at cards, but the more Stanwyck gets to know Henry Fonda, the less sure she is. Coburn ("Uncle Piggie" from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) plays Colonel Harrington, and Stanwyck (Double Indemnity and SO many others) plays Jean Harrington, his niece, and they work as a team. William Demarest, Pike's valet (played Uncle Charlie on TV's My Three Sons) quickly figures out their racket. all around fun ensues, and my only problem with this movie is how easily Henry Fonda (Charlie Pike) is fooled as actors play several parts, with little or no changes in hair-style. anyhoo...there are some great scenes, such as when Jean Harrington narrates the competition as girls throw themselves at Pike, and again on the train when Jean talks about her past.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Another bona fide gem from the astute Preston Sturges.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
17 September 2009

Fresh from his Amazonian based jungle adventures, wealthy Charles Pike {Henry Fonda} is ripe for some female company, you would think? However, as he sets off home for New York aboard a luxury liner, Charles is oblivious to the attentions of all the women on board, with one exception, con-woman Jean Harrington {Barbara Stanwyck}. Who, aided by her card-sharp father, set about fleecing Pike of some serious cash. Until that is, Jean starts to fall for Charles and a turn of events will see The Lady Eve Sidwich put in an appearance.

The Lady Eve is one of Preston Sturges' best romantic comedies. Dripping with sly asides at the snobbish and fusing slap-stick with its gender inversion satire, "Eve's" ending may never be in doubt, but the journey getting there is an unadulterated joy. Flawless direction from Sturges and cracking performances from the leads, most notably Stanwyck who cements her standing as one of the finest comedienne's of her generation, "Eve" continues to this day to be a darling of critics and fans alike. Back in 1994 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, the reasons correctly cited as being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.

Co-written by Sturges and Monckton Hoffe, the story is a loose reworking of a Hoffe story titled "Two Bad Hats" (also the original title for "Eve" the movie). A number of casting changes and rewrites to appease the Hays Office Censors occurred, but in the end it all worked out rather well, with the set apparently a fun and easy one to be on. It's something that shows thru in the best of Sturges' film's, that his cast are relaxed and knowing they are working for one of the sharpest and in tune writers of 1940s cinema. With Stanwyck baring midriff and sexy legs, and Fonda pratfalling for all his worth, The Lady Eve is simply a must see in classic cinema terms. But as is the way with the best of Sturges, you need to see thru the froth and sample the cunning that he was want to deliver, because only then you come to understand why critics and some big hitting directors have lauded him for the brilliant work that he did. 9/10

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Sturges, Fonda, Stanwyck = Perfection

Author: Sherlock Jr. from USA
21 October 2000

This is pure perfection. That's all that needs to be said. Sturges may be the greatest comedy writer/director of all time. Mel Brooks & Woody Allen, are the only two who could give him a run for his money. Fonda & Stanwyck are perfect. This is my first movie to see Stanwyck and I was beyond amazed at her talent and beauty. Fonda is a favorite of mine and he doesn't disappoint. I say forget the next Movie of the Week, and go to your video store and rent this one. A perfect date movie. I love the line, "I need him like the ax needs the turkey." Forget the romantic comedies of today. Instead rent The Lady Eve along with It Happened One Night, and sit back by yourself (like me), or cuddle up with the one you love, and enjoy the show. 10 out of 10.

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

"Meet John Doe" meets Tom Joad

Author: rjrozen from Chicago
18 July 2004

This movie suffers from two problems: Henry Fonda and the plot. Fonda manages to do some funny pratfalls, but he just isn't very adept at comedy. Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart, for instance, could portray earnest-yet-naive characters while still casting a humorous wink at the audience. Fonda, on the other hand, plays an earnest-yet-naive character with grim determination. He's Tom Joad with lots of money and a wacky girlfriend.

The other problem is with the plot. The first half of the movie is, in effect, "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" on a boat. A bumbling, distracted, rich naif is targeted for romance by a woman with mercenary motives. He falls in love with her, and, despite her best efforts, she falls in love with him. Then, just as she's about to reveal everything, he finds out about her ulterior motives on his own and, in a disillusioned funk, dumps her.

At quayside, however, the plot turns. Instead of taking the Jean Arthur approach (or, indeed, the Barbara Stanwyck approach in "Meet John Doe") and attempting to win back her man, Stanwyck decides to get even with Fonda. This is a refreshing twist on what is basically a Frank Capra plot, but it is at this point that all semblance of character motivation breaks down. We're not quite sure why Stanwyck plots her revenge, we're not quite sure why it works, we're not sure why Stanwyck recants (again!) after exacting her revenge, and we're certainly not sure why, in the end, everything ends up happily.

The supporting cast is uniformly good and there are some humorous moments. As an example of this particular type of genre (savvy dame falls for bookish guy), however, it doesn't rate alongside "Ball of Fire" (a much better Stanwyck performance) or even "Bringing Up Baby."

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The lady is a tramp

Author: erictopp from Australia
7 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had high expectations for this film. I liked the quirky "Sullivan's Travels" and wanted to see what Preston Sturgess could do with a screwball comedy.

Unfortunately, "The Lady Eve" was a disappointment. The opening scene introduces Charles (Henry Fonda), a dedicated ophidiologist. Then we meet Jean (Barbara Stanwyck) and Harrington (Charles Coburn), a couple of professional gamblers looking to take money off rich suckers aboard a cruise liner. There is some snappy dialog as Jean targets Charles for a take-down. Stanwyck has charisma in this role and the supporting cast do a fine job up to this point.

Then things go off the rails. Charles is boring and Fonda gives no life to this character. Why a cynic like Jean should go gooey-eyed over him is absurd. I dislike movies where the romantic leads say "I love you" when there is nothing to make you think these are anything more than words in a script.

The setup for this supposed romance is stupid. Jean finds that Charles' passion is for snakes. She is deathly afraid of snakes. This could be an act but her running out of his cabin and down the stairs is sped up for a cheap gag. Will he give up snakes for her? No! So now she is in love and wants to marry him?

That is pretty much the end of the snake theme. After the opening credits, we are led to expect that snakes and the legend of Eve must be a big part of this story. A snake appears in a brief scene at the Pike mansion later. Will a snake appear at the wedding to reveal Eve is Jean after all? No!

There are a couple of other things in the film that go nowhere. On the ship, Charles goes dizzy at the smell of Jean's perfume. At the mansion, Eve wears the same perfume but Charles refuses to believe that Eve is Jean. When Charles is courting Eve, the horse misbehaves. They shoot the scene from a different angle with the horse in shot. If this is meant to be a sight gag, it doesn't work.

The final scene is ridiculous. Charles is back on a ship where he meets Jean again. Why is he on a ship? Why is Jean there? Most importantly, why does Charles say he is in love with Jean? It makes no sense.

Screwball comedies are funny. This is not.

For a much better movie about a con artist marrying a clumsy naturalist, watch "A New Leaf" instead.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: AaronCapenBanner from North America
10 October 2013

Preston Sturges directed this well-regarded comedy with Henry Fonda playing Charles Pike, a rich but unsophisticated heir to a brewing family who is returning from the Amazon by ship after studying snakes. He meets and falls in love with Jean Harrington(played by Barbara Stanwyck) who is really a con artist, along with Col. Harrington(Charles Coburn) a notorious card shark who tries to swindle poor clueless Charles by a crooked card game, then by having Jean marry him for the money. After getting wise to their scheme, the jilted Jean decides to get back at Charles by pretending to be someone else at his mansion home! Can real love blossom despite the lies? Disappointing comedy does not live up to its reputation, since any effective humor is undermined by two lead characters it's impossible to care about or find endearing.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Stanwyck is ingenious

Author: james higgins ( from Kingsport, TN
8 April 2010

Barbara Stanwyck absolutely amazes me, she can play any type of role with skill, gusto and panache and has to be the most versatile actress of all time. This is one of her top five performances of all time, she is brilliant. Every movie she is in she seems to have such rapport with the rest of the cast. Henry Fonda is also at his best, a great performance. Preston Sturges direction is sublime, the screenplay is ingenious. Certainly one of the funniest movies of ever made. Highly entertaining and what a supporting cast - Charles Coburn, Eugene Palette and William Demarest are all amazing. It is a joy from start to finish, never a dull moment. Wonderful.

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