Spotlight on The Lady Eve


When I heard about the “Try It, You’ll Like It!” Blogathon hosted by Sister Celluloid and Movies Silently I thought long and hard about what picture I would choose to introduce someone to classic film. There are tons that I love but not all of them have universal appeal. Then it hit me. How about sharing the film that re-introduced me to my favorite genre?

I grew up on old movies, particularly musicals and loved them immensely. Then I became a teenager and decided I’d rather watch the latest  blockbuster. In my heart I still loved the classics but on the outside I was all about Jurassic Park and Independence Day. One day I came across an ad in the paper for a screwball film festival soon to be held at the local university.  From the description the movies sounded pretty fun so I grabbed my best friend and we went to catch a screening of something called The Lady Eve.

The Lady Eve

Little did I know that this picture would not only introduce me to the world of screwball comedy but also reignite my love of classic film and make me a lifelong Preston Sturges fan.


Preston Sturges was the first figure to be considered a “writer-director.” Sure, others had directed their own scripts before him but none were firmly established in the dual role. You were a screenwriter or you were a director. If you just happened to do both then good for you. But Preston Sturges WAS both. His greatest films – The Great McGinty, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and The Lady Eve were all written and directed by the man himself. Add to that the fact that they were all completed within a 5 year period AND considered some of the greatest comedies of all time makes him…well…a genius.

The Lady Eve came smack dab in the middle of Sturges’ Hollywood career and was released in 1941. Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda it tells a tale that’s almost too convoluted to describe. Here goes. Henry Fonda is an heir to a beer fortune (Pikes Pale – the ale that one for Yale) who’d rather spend his time researching reptiles on the Amazon than work in the family business. Barbara Stanwyck is a beautiful, whip smart con artist traveling the seas with her father (played by the incredible Charles Coburn) and business partner (played by Melville Cooper) duping folks out of their hard earned cash via card games. Through hilarious circumstances Fonda and Stanwyck meet at sea and soon fall in love.

Unfortunately, Fonda finds out about Stanwyck’s larcenous ways and that’s when the film really gets going. What follows is one of the most detailed, ingenious and completely ludicrous revenge plots that has ever graced the screen. To go into details would be to spoil it so let’s just say it includes a society party spoiled by a bumbling Fonda, a romantic interlude interrupted by an impatient horse, a train ride that turns a honeymoon into a living nightmare and a highly suspicious bodyguard played by the unforgettable William Demarest.

The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve is filled with laughs from start to finish and the best part is that the humor is timeless. This is one classic film that’s not simply a time capsule into a different age. Stanwyck is truly a modern woman who’s submissive to no man. She dominates the film with Fonda as her bumbling patsy. In the 1940’s this was a real role reversal which keeps the film relevant to today. Add in a sexual tension that you can cut with a knife and you’ve got a film that would appeal anyone in the 21st Century.

The Lady Eve – try it, you’ll like it!




  1. Patricia Nolan-Hall (@CaftanWoman) December 5, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    A man as talented and insightful as Preston Sturges certainly made his mark on film comedy and the way he turned the romantic comedy inside out with “The Lady Eve” should tickle the fancy of any type of discerning movie fan. Your enthusiasm alone should turn folks around.

    1. mk1005 December 6, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      Thank you! He really was a genius filmmaker.

  2. Fritzi Kramer December 6, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Thanks so much for joining in! This really is an absolute gem, everything that we love about the classics in one package. Enjoyed the reminisces very much.

    1. mk1005 December 6, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Thank you! I love sharing one of my favorites!

  3. Silver Screenings December 6, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Perfect choice! I wouldn’t have thought of this one, and shame on me. Like you said, it’s one of the best comedies ever made. One of my fave scenes is when Barbara Stanwyck is scoping out Henry Fonda with her compact mirror in the dining room. I think I re-wound that scene three times the first time I watched the movie.

    Great review!

    1. mk1005 December 6, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      I love that scene, too! She was such an incredible actress.

  4. Leah Williams December 6, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    I adore Sturges so much I was reading a book of his screenplays this morning, so I’m 100% with you on this choice:) Though Fonda and Stanwyck are fun together, it’s really Coburn and Stanwyck I love most in the film. Their chemistry is a delight. I want to take a million sea voyages with those card sharks.

  5. Mary Aalgaard December 11, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    LOVE Barbara Stanwyk, and Fonda. What a winning combination.

    Slowly making my rounds on this blogfest. So many good movies to read about and add to my list to watch!

    I’m at Play off the Page

  6. Joe Thompson December 12, 2015 at 3:51 am

    Excellent choice. I love the way Barbara Stanwyck torments and entices Henry Fonda. He didn’t get to do much comedy, but his seriousness was perfect for this movie.

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