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The Lady Eve

1941 motion picture starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda

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Lots of laughs in this Preston Sturges 'screwball' comedy.

  • Jan 18, 2009
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In "The Lady Eve" Henry Fonda stars as Charles Pike, the heir to the Pike Ale fortune ("The Ale That Won for Yale"). An ophiologist (a snake expert), he just spent a year "up the Amazon" looking for rare snakes with his cynical and protective guardian/valet Muggsy (played by William Demarest).  Returning home on an oceanliner the extremely shy and vulnerable Mr. Pike becomes the primary target of a father-daughter team of con artists intent on seperating the young man from his fortune. 
The lovely and vivacious Barbara Stanwyck stars as Jean while her conniving father is played by Charles Coburn.   As you might expect Pike falls for Stanwyck until he discovers that what she is really after at which point he unceremoniously dumps her.  But a funny thing happened on the way to this con job.  Jean has become enamored with her intended victim  and can't seem to get him out of her mind.  At this point, the plot takes any number of bizarre twists and turns as Jean attempts to win him back.
I found "The Lady Eve" to be a hilarious and highly entertaining film,   This is the third film I have seen by director Preston Sturges and I found each one of them to be terrific.  He is a master of the "screwball" comedy genre.  Recommended!

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January 18, 2009
This film really is terrific! Although, I never thought Henry Fonda's performance really matched Barbara Stanwyck's wiles. He continually looks dazed and blank throughout the entire film, and I half wondered if he was on something during the filming. It was too easy!
More The Lady Eve reviews
review by . May 31, 2012
With little comedy and no romance, this Lady Eve fails to tempt
         The Lady Eve (1941) disappoints because it lacks a Joel McCrea moment. It needs at least three of them.      Writer/director Preston Sturges also created Sullivan's Travels (1941), in which McCrea stars as a successful movie director disillusioned by what he believes are the triviality and irrelevance of his profession. His quest to find the inspiration to make an important movie goes astray and he ends up in jail. As he and his fellow …
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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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About this movie


The Lady Eve is a 1941 screwball comedy film about a mismatched couple who meet on a luxury liner, written by Preston Sturges based on a story by Monckton Hoffe, and directed by Sturges, his third directorial effort, after The Great McGinty and Christmas in July. The film stars Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck and features Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest and Eric Blore.

In 1994, The Lady Eve was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) is a beautiful con artist. Along with her equally larcenous father, "Colonel" Harrington (Charles Coburn) and his partner Gerald (Melville Cooper), she is out to fleece rich, naive Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), the heir to the Pike Ale fortune ("The Ale That Won for Yale"). Pike is a woman-shy snake expert just returning from a year-long expedition up the Amazon.

But even the best laid plans can go astray. First, Jean falls hard for Pike and shields him from her card sharp father. Then, when Pike's suspicious minder/valet Muggsy (William Demarest) discovers the truth about her and her father, Pike dumps her. Furious at being scorned, she re-enters his life masquerading as the posh "Lady Eve Sidwich", niece of Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith (Eric Blore), another con man who's been swindling the rich folk of Connecticut. Jean is determined ...

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Director: Preston Sturges
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: February 25, 1941
Runtime: 94 minutes
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