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The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve(1941)

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The working title of this film was Two Bad Hats, which also was the title of Monckton Hoffe's original story. Preston Sturges's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Preston Sturges." The following information has been taken from the Preston Sturges Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library: In 1938, a Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Sturges had been assigned to write the script from Hoffe's story, and that the film was to star Claudette Colbert. In 1939, Sturges consulted with producer Albert Lewin about his early script for The Lady Eve, and, among several criticisms, Lewin responded that he felt that "the first two-thirds of the script, in spite of the high quality of your jokes, will require an almost one hundred percent rewrite." Lewin reasoned that the sequences showing "Charles" as being "inordinately fond of snakes" served no purpose and "should be ruthlessly excised." Sturges responded with a letter in which he agreed that the sequences as yet had no connection to the rest of the film, but he adamantly stood by them. In his follow-up letter, Lewin "surrender[ed] unconditionally" to Sturges's judgment, and added the following: "Follow your witty nose, my boy; it will lead you and me and Paramount to the Elysian pastures of popular entertainment." Information in the MPAA/PCA Files at the AMPAS Library reveals that the PCA initially rejected the script due to "the definite suggestion of a sex affair between your two leads" which lacked "compensating moral values." A revised script was approved, however.
       Contemporary news items reported the following about the production: In July 1940, Joel McCrea, Madeleine Carroll and Paulette Goddard were considered for the lead roles. In August 1940, Madeleine Carroll and Fred MacMurray were announced as the co-stars, and in September 1940, Darryl Zanuck loaned Henry Fonda to co-star with Paulette Goddard. Goddard, however, was replaced by Barbara Stanwyck. The opening jungle river scene was shot on location at Baldwin Lake near Santa Anita, CA. Modern sources add the following credits: Wilda Bennett, Evelyn Beresford, Georgie Cooper, Gayne Whitman, Alfred Hall, Bertram Marburgh, George Melford, Arthur Stuart Hull, Kenneth Gibson (Guests at party), Joe North (Butler at party), Pauline Drake (Social secretary), Julius Tannen, Ray Flynn, Harry A. Bailey (Lawyers in Pike's office), Ambrose Barker (Mac), Jean Phillips (Sweetie), Ella Neal, Marcelle Christopher (Daughters on boat), John Hartley (Young man on boat), Eva Dennison, Almeda Fowler, Helen Dickson (Mothers on boat), Mary Akin, January Buckingham (Women on boat), Esther Michelson (Wife on boat), Mrs. Gardner Crane (Lady on boat), Frances Raymond (Old lady on boat), Ernesto Palmese, Mitchell Ingraham (Men on boat), Cyril Ring, Sam Ash, (Husbands on boat), Richard Kipling (Father on boat), Harry Depp (Spectacled man), Jack Richardson (Father of girl on boat), Wally Walker (Sparky), Robert Warwick (Passenger). Monckton Hoffe was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Writing (Original Story) for this film. The Lady Eve was voted best picture of the year by the New York Times, and ranked among the top ten films in box office sales. In 1956, Paramount released The Birds and the Bees, a remake of The Lady Eve, directed by Norman Taurog, and starring George Gobel, Mitzi Gaynor and David Niven.