The Lady Eve


1h 37m 1941
The Lady Eve

Brief Synopsis

A lady cardsharp tries to con an eccentric scientist only to fall for him.

Film Details

Also Known As
Two Bad Hats
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Release Date
Mar 21, 1941
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Feb 1941
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Baldwin Lake, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,429ft

Synopsis

After Charles Poncefort Pike, an ophiologist and heir to the Pike's Pale Ale fortune, leaves a zoological expedition in the South American jungle, he boards an ocean liner headed for the East Coast. Although the eligible bachelor only has eyes for his book on snakes and is oblivious to all the young female passengers, Jean Harrington succeeds in getting his attention by tripping him as he leaves the dining room. Jean, a con artist and cardsharp who works with her father, ensnares Charlie with her feminine wiles, and despite the warnings of Charlie's suspicious guardian, Muggsy, Charlie falls in love with Jean. Much to her own surprise, Jean also falls in love with Charlie, and informs her father that she intends to go straight. "Colonel" Harrington does not share her good intentions, however, and despite Jean's intervention in his card game that night, Harrington wins $32,000 from the luckless Charlie. Harrington pretends to rip the check up to impress Jean, but Charlie breaks off his engagement to Jean when he learns that she and her father are well-documented con artists. Hurt, Jean's tender thoughts of love turn to calculating thoughts of revenge, and is happy when Harrington produces the check intact. The ship docks, and some time later, the Harringtons encounter their friend Pearly at an East Coast horse race. Pearly, also a con artist, is posing as Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith while living in the Pike hometown of Bridgefield, Connecticut. Still bent on revenge, Jean arranges to pose as Pearly's niece, Lady Eve Sidwich of England. The Pikes throw a lavish introduction party for Lady Eve, at which a clumsy Charlie is astonished by her resemblance to Jean. Although Muggsy insists that Lady Eve and Jean are the same person, Charlie, using backward logic, thinks the resemblance is too close and that consequently, they must be different women. He soon falls deeply in love with Lady Eve. Jean and Charlie become engaged, much to the Pikes's delight, and she continues her pose through their wedding. She finally exacts her revenge on their wedding night by relating a fictional history of love affairs to her stunned husband. Mortified by his new wife's apparently sordid past, Charlie immediately gets off their honeymoon train in his pajamas and later sues for divorce. Now remorseful, Jean realizes that she is still in love with Charlie and insists on settling without renumeration if Charlie will only speak with her, but he refuses. Out of desperation, Jean books passage on the same ocean liner on which Charlie is traveling and again trips him to get his attention. Charlie is thrilled to see Jean, still unaware that she is also Lady Eve, and when he tries to explain that he is married, she assures him that she, too, is married. Muggsy, reacting to the reunion, mutters "Positively the same dame."

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The Lady Eve - Publicity Stills
The Lady Eve - Publicity Stills

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Promo

Film Details

Also Known As
Two Bad Hats
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Release Date
Mar 21, 1941
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Feb 1941
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Baldwin Lake, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,429ft

Award Nominations

Best Writing, Screenplay

1942

Articles

The Essentials - The Lady Eve


SYNOPSIS

'Colonel' Harry Harrington and his daughter Jean are two cardsharps who make their living preying on wealthy travelers abroad luxury liners. Once Jean learns that Charles Pike, the son of a millionaire brewer, is on board, she attempts to lure him into her 'trap.' What starts as a fleecing turns into a love affair only to take a turn for the worse when Pike finds out about Jean's larcenous past. When he dumps her, it sets the stage for comic revenge, as Jean reappears in his life as the regal and mysterious Lady Eve. CAST AND CREW

Producer: Paul Jones
Director: Preston Sturges
Screenplay: Monckton Hoffe (story), Preston Sturges
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté
Cinematography: Victor Milner
Costume Design: Edith Head
Film Editing: Stuart Gilmore
Original Music: Sigmund Krumgold
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Jean Harrington/Lady Eve Sidwich), Henry Fonda (Charles Pike), Charles Coburn ("Colonel" Harrington), Eugene Pallette (Mr. Pike), William Demarest (Muggsy Ambrose Murgatroyd), Eric Blore (Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith).
BW-97m.

THE LONG VIEW The crown jewel in Preston Sturges' career as writer-director, The Lady Eve (1941) is one of those rare comedies that manages to be genuinely sexy, funny, and romantic, all at the same time. It was loosely based on a nineteen page story Paramount owned entitled "Two Bad Hats." Sturges completely reworked it into a script of his own and insisted on casting Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, and Charles Coburn in the lead roles. The studio wanted Brian Aherne for the Charles Pike role and Madeleine Carroll or Paulette Goddard for the part of Jean but Sturges, a hot property after the unexpected success of The Great McGinty (1940), held firm and got his way. In many ways, The Lady Eve was a complete departure from Sturges' first two films (The Great McGinty & Christmas in July, both 1940) which dealt with middle class characters and concerns. For one thing, it took place in an upper-class world of luxury liner staterooms, sprawling estates, and nouveau riche millionaires. Paramount also gave Sturges his biggest budget yet, allowing him to hire Edith Head to design twenty-five gowns for Stanwyck and fourteen changes of costume for Fonda.

According to the biography, Madcap: The Life of Preston Sturges by Donald Spoto, "Sturges, who had directed Christmas in July wearing a straw boater and carrying a bamboo cane, invariably paraded on this set with a colorful beret or a felt cap with a feather protruding, a white cashmere scarf blowing gaily round his neck and a print shirt in loud hues...the reason for the peculiar outfits, he told visitors, was that they facilitated crew members' finding him amid the crowds of actors, technicians, and the public." Despite Sturges' extroverted behavior and outward confidence, the director had some insecurities about his direction of The Lady Eve. In his autobiography, he wrote, "I happen to love pratfalls, but as almost everything I like, other people dislike, and vice versa, my dearest friends and severest critics urged me to cut the pratfalls down from five to three. But it was actually the enormous risks I took with my pictures, skating right up to the edge of nonacceptance, that paid off so handsomely. There are certain things that will convulse an audience, when it has been softened up by what has occurred previously, that seem very unfunny in cold print. Directing and acting have a lot to do with it, too. I had my fingers crossed when Henry Fonda went over the sofa. I held my left ear when he tore down the curtains and I held everything when the roast beef hit him. But it paid off. Audiences, including the critics, surrendered to the fun, and the picture made a lot of money for the studio. Barbara Stanwyck had an instinct so sure that she needed almost no direction; she was a devastating Lady Eve."

For Stanwyck, The Lady Eve marked a real turning point in her career. Audiences that had grown used to seeing her play tough, take-charge working girls, self-sacrificing mothers or hard-bitten prostitutes were dazzled by her stylish, sophisticated appearance in Sturges' film. Here she radiated sex appeal in her scenes with Fonda, whether she was throwing out a sleek leg to trip him or nibbling provocatively on his ear. Stanwyck, in an interview about Sturges for the New York Times said, "He'd ask us how we liked the lines. If we didn't, we'd say so, and he'd say the scriptwriter was fifty kinds of an imbecile - and change them. But, you see, he wrote the thing himself." In the biography, Stanwyck, author Axel Madsen wrote that the actress compared Sturges' set to "a 'carnival.' In Fonda, she met her match. He, too, always knew his lines and was affectionately called 'One-Take Fonda.' After The Lady Eve, he called Barbara his favorite leading lady...The set was so ebullient that instead of going to their trailers between setups, the players relaxed in canvas chairs with their sparkling director, listening to his fascinating stories or going over their lines with him. To get into mood for Barbara's bedroom scene, Sturges wore a bathrobe."

Considering the risqué nature of some of the scenes in The Lady Eve, it's surprising that the censors didn't give Sturges any trouble over the film, particularly in regards to the love scenes. There were at least eight of them and one intimate sequence, shot in tight close-up, lasted almost five minutes with Stanwyck caressing Fonda's ear lobes, cheeks, neck, and shoulder while he tried to contain his obvious excitement. But audiences and critics alike delighted in it and the film went on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Writing. (Unfortunately, it lost to Here Comes Mr. Jordan). Stanwyck and Fonda proved to be such a dynamic screen couple that they were cast together again in You Belong to Me (1941), a minor romantic comedy by Wesley Ruggles that could have used Sturges' magic touch. As for Paramount Studios, they tried to repeat the success of The Lady Eve with a remake of it in 1956 entitled The Birds and the Bees starring George Gobel, Mitzi Gaynor, and David Niven. It was a box office disappointment but considering the brilliance of the original, what did they expect?

by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford
The Essentials - The Lady Eve

The Essentials - The Lady Eve

SYNOPSIS 'Colonel' Harry Harrington and his daughter Jean are two cardsharps who make their living preying on wealthy travelers abroad luxury liners. Once Jean learns that Charles Pike, the son of a millionaire brewer, is on board, she attempts to lure him into her 'trap.' What starts as a fleecing turns into a love affair only to take a turn for the worse when Pike finds out about Jean's larcenous past. When he dumps her, it sets the stage for comic revenge, as Jean reappears in his life as the regal and mysterious Lady Eve. CAST AND CREW Producer: Paul Jones Director: Preston Sturges Screenplay: Monckton Hoffe (story), Preston Sturges Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté Cinematography: Victor Milner Costume Design: Edith Head Film Editing: Stuart Gilmore Original Music: Sigmund Krumgold Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Jean Harrington/Lady Eve Sidwich), Henry Fonda (Charles Pike), Charles Coburn ("Colonel" Harrington), Eugene Pallette (Mr. Pike), William Demarest (Muggsy Ambrose Murgatroyd), Eric Blore (Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith). BW-97m. THE LONG VIEW The crown jewel in Preston Sturges' career as writer-director, The Lady Eve (1941) is one of those rare comedies that manages to be genuinely sexy, funny, and romantic, all at the same time. It was loosely based on a nineteen page story Paramount owned entitled "Two Bad Hats." Sturges completely reworked it into a script of his own and insisted on casting Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, and Charles Coburn in the lead roles. The studio wanted Brian Aherne for the Charles Pike role and Madeleine Carroll or Paulette Goddard for the part of Jean but Sturges, a hot property after the unexpected success of The Great McGinty (1940), held firm and got his way. In many ways, The Lady Eve was a complete departure from Sturges' first two films (The Great McGinty & Christmas in July, both 1940) which dealt with middle class characters and concerns. For one thing, it took place in an upper-class world of luxury liner staterooms, sprawling estates, and nouveau riche millionaires. Paramount also gave Sturges his biggest budget yet, allowing him to hire Edith Head to design twenty-five gowns for Stanwyck and fourteen changes of costume for Fonda. According to the biography, Madcap: The Life of Preston Sturges by Donald Spoto, "Sturges, who had directed Christmas in July wearing a straw boater and carrying a bamboo cane, invariably paraded on this set with a colorful beret or a felt cap with a feather protruding, a white cashmere scarf blowing gaily round his neck and a print shirt in loud hues...the reason for the peculiar outfits, he told visitors, was that they facilitated crew members' finding him amid the crowds of actors, technicians, and the public." Despite Sturges' extroverted behavior and outward confidence, the director had some insecurities about his direction of The Lady Eve. In his autobiography, he wrote, "I happen to love pratfalls, but as almost everything I like, other people dislike, and vice versa, my dearest friends and severest critics urged me to cut the pratfalls down from five to three. But it was actually the enormous risks I took with my pictures, skating right up to the edge of nonacceptance, that paid off so handsomely. There are certain things that will convulse an audience, when it has been softened up by what has occurred previously, that seem very unfunny in cold print. Directing and acting have a lot to do with it, too. I had my fingers crossed when Henry Fonda went over the sofa. I held my left ear when he tore down the curtains and I held everything when the roast beef hit him. But it paid off. Audiences, including the critics, surrendered to the fun, and the picture made a lot of money for the studio. Barbara Stanwyck had an instinct so sure that she needed almost no direction; she was a devastating Lady Eve." For Stanwyck, The Lady Eve marked a real turning point in her career. Audiences that had grown used to seeing her play tough, take-charge working girls, self-sacrificing mothers or hard-bitten prostitutes were dazzled by her stylish, sophisticated appearance in Sturges' film. Here she radiated sex appeal in her scenes with Fonda, whether she was throwing out a sleek leg to trip him or nibbling provocatively on his ear. Stanwyck, in an interview about Sturges for the New York Times said, "He'd ask us how we liked the lines. If we didn't, we'd say so, and he'd say the scriptwriter was fifty kinds of an imbecile - and change them. But, you see, he wrote the thing himself." In the biography, Stanwyck, author Axel Madsen wrote that the actress compared Sturges' set to "a 'carnival.' In Fonda, she met her match. He, too, always knew his lines and was affectionately called 'One-Take Fonda.' After The Lady Eve, he called Barbara his favorite leading lady...The set was so ebullient that instead of going to their trailers between setups, the players relaxed in canvas chairs with their sparkling director, listening to his fascinating stories or going over their lines with him. To get into mood for Barbara's bedroom scene, Sturges wore a bathrobe." Considering the risqué nature of some of the scenes in The Lady Eve, it's surprising that the censors didn't give Sturges any trouble over the film, particularly in regards to the love scenes. There were at least eight of them and one intimate sequence, shot in tight close-up, lasted almost five minutes with Stanwyck caressing Fonda's ear lobes, cheeks, neck, and shoulder while he tried to contain his obvious excitement. But audiences and critics alike delighted in it and the film went on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Writing. (Unfortunately, it lost to Here Comes Mr. Jordan). Stanwyck and Fonda proved to be such a dynamic screen couple that they were cast together again in You Belong to Me (1941), a minor romantic comedy by Wesley Ruggles that could have used Sturges' magic touch. As for Paramount Studios, they tried to repeat the success of The Lady Eve with a remake of it in 1956 entitled The Birds and the Bees starring George Gobel, Mitzi Gaynor, and David Niven. It was a box office disappointment but considering the brilliance of the original, what did they expect? by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

The Essentials (6/4) - THE LADY EVE


SYNOPSIS

'Colonel' Harry Harrington and his daughter Jean are two cardsharps who make their living preying on wealthy travelers abroad luxury liners. Once Jean learns that Charles Pike, the son of a millionaire brewer, is on board, she attempts to lure him into her 'trap.' What starts as a fleecing turns into a love affair only to take a turn for the worse when Pike finds out about Jean's larcenous past. When he dumps her, it sets the stage for comic revenge, as Jean reappears in his life as the regal and mysterious Lady Eve.

CAST AND CREW

Producer: Paul Jones
Director: Preston Sturges
Screenplay: Monckton Hoffe (story), Preston Sturges
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté
Cinematography: Victor Milner
Costume Design: Edith Head
Film Editing: Stuart Gilmore
Original Music: Sigmund Krumgold
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Jean Harrington/Lady Eve Sidwich), Henry Fonda (Charles Pike), Charles Coburn ("Colonel" Harrington), Eugene Pallette (Mr. Pike), William Demarest (Muggsy Ambrose Murgatroyd), Eric Blore (Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith).
BW-97m.

Why THE LADY EVE is Essential

The crown jewel in Preston Sturges' career as writer-director, The Lady Eve (1941) is one of those rare comedies that manages to be genuinely sexy, funny, and romantic, all at the same time. It was loosely based on a nineteen page story Paramount owned entitled "Two Bad Hats." Sturges completely reworked it into a script of his own and insisted on casting Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, and Charles Coburn in the lead roles. The studio wanted Brian Aherne for the Charles Pike role and Madeleine Carroll or Paulette Goddard for the part of Jean but Sturges, a hot property after the unexpected success of The Great McGinty (1940), held firm and got his way. In many ways, The Lady Eve was a complete departure from Sturges' first two films (The Great McGinty & Christmas in July, both 1940) which dealt with middle class characters and concerns. For one thing, it took place in an upper-class world of luxury liner staterooms, sprawling estates, and nouveau riche millionaires. Paramount also gave Sturges his biggest budget yet, allowing him to hire Edith Head to design twenty-five gowns for Stanwyck and fourteen changes of costume for Fonda.

According to the biography, Madcap: The Life of Preston Sturges by Donald Spoto, "Sturges, who had directed Christmas in July wearing a straw boater and carrying a bamboo cane, invariably paraded on this set with a colorful beret or a felt cap with a feather protruding, a white cashmere scarf blowing gaily round his neck and a print shirt in loud hues...the reason for the peculiar outfits, he told visitors, was that they facilitated crew members' finding him amid the crowds of actors, technicians, and the public." Despite Sturges' extroverted behavior and outward confidence, the director had some insecurities about his direction of The Lady Eve. In his autobiography, he wrote, "I happen to love pratfalls, but as almost everything I like, other people dislike, and vice versa, my dearest friends and severest critics urged me to cut the pratfalls down from five to three. But it was actually the enormous risks I took with my pictures, skating right up to the edge of nonacceptance, that paid off so handsomely. There are certain things that will convulse an audience, when it has been softened up by what has occurred previously, that seem very unfunny in cold print. Directing and acting have a lot to do with it, too. I had my fingers crossed when Henry Fonda went over the sofa. I held my left ear when he tore down the curtains and I held everything when the roast beef hit him. But it paid off. Audiences, including the critics, surrendered to the fun, and the picture made a lot of money for the studio. Barbara Stanwyck had an instinct so sure that she needed almost no direction; she was a devastating Lady Eve."

For Stanwyck, The Lady Eve marked a real turning point in her career. Audiences that had grown used to seeing her play tough, take-charge working girls, self-sacrificing mothers or hard-bitten prostitutes were dazzled by her stylish, sophisticated appearance in Sturges' film. Here she radiated sex appeal in her scenes with Fonda, whether she was throwing out a sleek leg to trip him or nibbling provocatively on his ear. Stanwyck, in an interview about Sturges for the New York Times said, "He'd ask us how we liked the lines. If we didn't, we'd say so, and he'd say the scriptwriter was fifty kinds of an imbecile - and change them. But, you see, he wrote the thing himself." In the biography, Stanwyck, author Axel Madsen wrote that the actress compared Sturges' set to "a 'carnival.' In Fonda, she met her match. He, too, always knew his lines and was affectionately called 'One-Take Fonda.' After The Lady Eve, he called Barbara his favorite leading lady...The set was so ebullient that instead of going to their trailers between setups, the players relaxed in canvas chairs with their sparkling director, listening to his fascinating stories or going over their lines with him. To get into mood for Barbara's bedroom scene, Sturges wore a bathrobe."

Considering the risque nature of some of the scenes in The Lady Eve, it's surprising that the censors didn't give Sturges any trouble over the film, particularly in regards to the love scenes. There were at least eight of them and one intimate sequence, shot in tight close-up, lasted almost five minutes with Stanwyck caressing Fonda's ear lobes, cheeks, neck, and shoulder while he tried to contain his obvious excitement. But audiences and critics alike delighted in it and the film went on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Writing. (Unfortunately, it lost to Here Comes Mr. Jordan). Stanwyck and Fonda proved to be such a dynamic screen couple that they were cast together again in You Belong to Me (1941), a minor romantic comedy by Wesley Ruggles that could have used Sturges' magic touch. As for Paramount Studios, they tried to repeat the success of The Lady Eve with a remake of it in 1956 entitled The Birds and the Bees starring George Gobel, Mitzi Gaynor, and David Niven. It was a box office disappointment but considering the brilliance of the original, what did they expect?

by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

The Essentials (6/4) - THE LADY EVE

SYNOPSIS 'Colonel' Harry Harrington and his daughter Jean are two cardsharps who make their living preying on wealthy travelers abroad luxury liners. Once Jean learns that Charles Pike, the son of a millionaire brewer, is on board, she attempts to lure him into her 'trap.' What starts as a fleecing turns into a love affair only to take a turn for the worse when Pike finds out about Jean's larcenous past. When he dumps her, it sets the stage for comic revenge, as Jean reappears in his life as the regal and mysterious Lady Eve. CAST AND CREW Producer: Paul Jones Director: Preston Sturges Screenplay: Monckton Hoffe (story), Preston Sturges Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté Cinematography: Victor Milner Costume Design: Edith Head Film Editing: Stuart Gilmore Original Music: Sigmund Krumgold Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Jean Harrington/Lady Eve Sidwich), Henry Fonda (Charles Pike), Charles Coburn ("Colonel" Harrington), Eugene Pallette (Mr. Pike), William Demarest (Muggsy Ambrose Murgatroyd), Eric Blore (Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith). BW-97m. Why THE LADY EVE is Essential The crown jewel in Preston Sturges' career as writer-director, The Lady Eve (1941) is one of those rare comedies that manages to be genuinely sexy, funny, and romantic, all at the same time. It was loosely based on a nineteen page story Paramount owned entitled "Two Bad Hats." Sturges completely reworked it into a script of his own and insisted on casting Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, and Charles Coburn in the lead roles. The studio wanted Brian Aherne for the Charles Pike role and Madeleine Carroll or Paulette Goddard for the part of Jean but Sturges, a hot property after the unexpected success of The Great McGinty (1940), held firm and got his way. In many ways, The Lady Eve was a complete departure from Sturges' first two films (The Great McGinty & Christmas in July, both 1940) which dealt with middle class characters and concerns. For one thing, it took place in an upper-class world of luxury liner staterooms, sprawling estates, and nouveau riche millionaires. Paramount also gave Sturges his biggest budget yet, allowing him to hire Edith Head to design twenty-five gowns for Stanwyck and fourteen changes of costume for Fonda. According to the biography, Madcap: The Life of Preston Sturges by Donald Spoto, "Sturges, who had directed Christmas in July wearing a straw boater and carrying a bamboo cane, invariably paraded on this set with a colorful beret or a felt cap with a feather protruding, a white cashmere scarf blowing gaily round his neck and a print shirt in loud hues...the reason for the peculiar outfits, he told visitors, was that they facilitated crew members' finding him amid the crowds of actors, technicians, and the public." Despite Sturges' extroverted behavior and outward confidence, the director had some insecurities about his direction of The Lady Eve. In his autobiography, he wrote, "I happen to love pratfalls, but as almost everything I like, other people dislike, and vice versa, my dearest friends and severest critics urged me to cut the pratfalls down from five to three. But it was actually the enormous risks I took with my pictures, skating right up to the edge of nonacceptance, that paid off so handsomely. There are certain things that will convulse an audience, when it has been softened up by what has occurred previously, that seem very unfunny in cold print. Directing and acting have a lot to do with it, too. I had my fingers crossed when Henry Fonda went over the sofa. I held my left ear when he tore down the curtains and I held everything when the roast beef hit him. But it paid off. Audiences, including the critics, surrendered to the fun, and the picture made a lot of money for the studio. Barbara Stanwyck had an instinct so sure that she needed almost no direction; she was a devastating Lady Eve." For Stanwyck, The Lady Eve marked a real turning point in her career. Audiences that had grown used to seeing her play tough, take-charge working girls, self-sacrificing mothers or hard-bitten prostitutes were dazzled by her stylish, sophisticated appearance in Sturges' film. Here she radiated sex appeal in her scenes with Fonda, whether she was throwing out a sleek leg to trip him or nibbling provocatively on his ear. Stanwyck, in an interview about Sturges for the New York Times said, "He'd ask us how we liked the lines. If we didn't, we'd say so, and he'd say the scriptwriter was fifty kinds of an imbecile - and change them. But, you see, he wrote the thing himself." In the biography, Stanwyck, author Axel Madsen wrote that the actress compared Sturges' set to "a 'carnival.' In Fonda, she met her match. He, too, always knew his lines and was affectionately called 'One-Take Fonda.' After The Lady Eve, he called Barbara his favorite leading lady...The set was so ebullient that instead of going to their trailers between setups, the players relaxed in canvas chairs with their sparkling director, listening to his fascinating stories or going over their lines with him. To get into mood for Barbara's bedroom scene, Sturges wore a bathrobe." Considering the risque nature of some of the scenes in The Lady Eve, it's surprising that the censors didn't give Sturges any trouble over the film, particularly in regards to the love scenes. There were at least eight of them and one intimate sequence, shot in tight close-up, lasted almost five minutes with Stanwyck caressing Fonda's ear lobes, cheeks, neck, and shoulder while he tried to contain his obvious excitement. But audiences and critics alike delighted in it and the film went on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Writing. (Unfortunately, it lost to Here Comes Mr. Jordan). Stanwyck and Fonda proved to be such a dynamic screen couple that they were cast together again in You Belong to Me (1941), a minor romantic comedy by Wesley Ruggles that could have used Sturges' magic touch. As for Paramount Studios, they tried to repeat the success of The Lady Eve with a remake of it in 1956 entitled The Birds and the Bees starring George Gobel, Mitzi Gaynor, and David Niven. It was a box office disappointment but considering the brilliance of the original, what did they expect? by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

Pop Culture 101 - The Lady Eve


The Latin American look Edith Head used for Barbara Stanwyck during the film's first third, when Jean Harrington is traveling on an ocean liner from South America, inspired a fashion craze in the U.S.

Director Howard Hawks borrowed a visual gag from The Lady Eve later that year for his comedy Ball of Fire (1941). He featured a scene between stripper Barbara Stanwyck and college professor Gary Cooper where the latter takes hold of her bare foot, just as Henry Fonda had done with Stanwyck in the earlier film.

When The Lady Eve proved a hit, Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures signed Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda to team for another comedy, You Belong to Me (1941).

Writer Mary Orr was so impressed with The Lady Eve that she combined the leading lady's two names for the central character of her short story "The Wisdom of Eve." The story would reach the screen in 1950 as All About Eve, with Anne Baxter as the scheming understudy Eve Harrington.

Paramount remade The Lady Eve as The Birds and the Bees in 1956. The film starred television comic George Gobel, musical star Mitzi Gaynor and David Niven. Stanwyck refused an invitation to attend the premiere. The film was not a success with critics or the movie-going public.

The Lady Eve was not the first or last time Barbara Stanwyck played a gambler on screen. She also appeared in Gambling Lady (1934) opposite Joel McCrea (who would go on to star in Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story, 1942) and The Lady Gambles (1949) opposite Robert Preston.

by Frank Miller

Pop Culture 101 - The Lady Eve

The Latin American look Edith Head used for Barbara Stanwyck during the film's first third, when Jean Harrington is traveling on an ocean liner from South America, inspired a fashion craze in the U.S. Director Howard Hawks borrowed a visual gag from The Lady Eve later that year for his comedy Ball of Fire (1941). He featured a scene between stripper Barbara Stanwyck and college professor Gary Cooper where the latter takes hold of her bare foot, just as Henry Fonda had done with Stanwyck in the earlier film. When The Lady Eve proved a hit, Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures signed Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda to team for another comedy, You Belong to Me (1941). Writer Mary Orr was so impressed with The Lady Eve that she combined the leading lady's two names for the central character of her short story "The Wisdom of Eve." The story would reach the screen in 1950 as All About Eve, with Anne Baxter as the scheming understudy Eve Harrington. Paramount remade The Lady Eve as The Birds and the Bees in 1956. The film starred television comic George Gobel, musical star Mitzi Gaynor and David Niven. Stanwyck refused an invitation to attend the premiere. The film was not a success with critics or the movie-going public. The Lady Eve was not the first or last time Barbara Stanwyck played a gambler on screen. She also appeared in Gambling Lady (1934) opposite Joel McCrea (who would go on to star in Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story, 1942) and The Lady Gambles (1949) opposite Robert Preston. by Frank Miller

Pop Culture (6/4) - THE LADY EVE


Pop Culture 101 - THE LADY EVE

The Latin American look Edith Head used for Barbara Stanwyck during the film's first third, when Jean Harrington is traveling on an ocean liner from South America, inspired a fashion craze in the U.S.

Director Howard Hawks borrowed a visual gag from The Lady Eve later that year for his comedy Ball of Fire (1941). He featured a scene between stripper Barbara Stanwyck and college professor Gary Cooper where the latter takes hold of her bare foot, just as Henry Fonda had done with Stanwyck in the earlier film.

When The Lady Eve proved a hit, Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures signed Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda to team for another comedy, You Belong to Me (1941).

Writer Mary Orr was so impressed with The Lady Eve that she combined the leading lady's two names for the central character of her short story "The Wisdom of Eve." The story would reach the screen in 1950 as All About Eve, with Anne Baxter as the scheming understudy Eve Harrington.

Paramount remade The Lady Eve as The Birds and the Bees in 1956. The film starred television comic George Gobel, musical star Mitzi Gaynor and David Niven. Stanwyck refused an invitation to attend the premiere. The film was not a success with critics or the movie-going public.

The Lady Eve was not the first or last time Barbara Stanwyck played a gambler on screen. She also appeared in Gambling Lady (1934) opposite Joel McCrea (who would go on to star in Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story, 1942) and The Lady Gambles (1949) opposite Robert Preston.

by Frank Miller

Pop Culture (6/4) - THE LADY EVE

Pop Culture 101 - THE LADY EVE The Latin American look Edith Head used for Barbara Stanwyck during the film's first third, when Jean Harrington is traveling on an ocean liner from South America, inspired a fashion craze in the U.S. Director Howard Hawks borrowed a visual gag from The Lady Eve later that year for his comedy Ball of Fire (1941). He featured a scene between stripper Barbara Stanwyck and college professor Gary Cooper where the latter takes hold of her bare foot, just as Henry Fonda had done with Stanwyck in the earlier film. When The Lady Eve proved a hit, Harry Cohn at Columbia Pictures signed Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda to team for another comedy, You Belong to Me (1941). Writer Mary Orr was so impressed with The Lady Eve that she combined the leading lady's two names for the central character of her short story "The Wisdom of Eve." The story would reach the screen in 1950 as All About Eve, with Anne Baxter as the scheming understudy Eve Harrington. Paramount remade The Lady Eve as The Birds and the Bees in 1956. The film starred television comic George Gobel, musical star Mitzi Gaynor and David Niven. Stanwyck refused an invitation to attend the premiere. The film was not a success with critics or the movie-going public. The Lady Eve was not the first or last time Barbara Stanwyck played a gambler on screen. She also appeared in Gambling Lady (1934) opposite Joel McCrea (who would go on to star in Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story, 1942) and The Lady Gambles (1949) opposite Robert Preston. by Frank Miller

Trivia - The Lady Eve - Trivia & Fun Facts About THE LADY EVE


When snake expert Henry Fonda refers to Professor Marsdit at the film's opening, it's a backhand reference to Raymond L. Ditmars, the nation's leading reptile expert.

To ensure authenticity, Sturges loaned the studio his own antique sterling silver for the posh dinner party at which Hopsie first meets Lady Eve Sidwich.

The scene in which Eve agrees to divorce Hopsie only if he tells her to her face that he wants the divorce was taken from Sturges's own life. He had made the same demand of his second wife, Eleanor Hutton, whose wealthy family thought he had only married her for her money.

The film's score includes melodies from three songs featured in earlier Paramount musicals, "Isn't It Romantic" and "Lover" from Love Me Tonight (1932) and "Cocktails for Two" from Murder at the Vanities (1934). Classical sections include the thunderstorm music from Rossini's William Tell and the "Pilgrim's Chorus" from Wagner's Tannhaüser.

During filming, Henry Fonda brought his daughter, future star Jane Fonda, on set for her fourth birthday party.

Stanwyck was so grateful for the way Edith Head glamorized her on screen, that she took the costume designer to see her dentist so she could have her teeth fixed.

After The Lady Eve (and two others, The Mad Miss Manton in 1938 and You Belong to Me later in 1941), Fonda would always refer to Stanwyck as his favorite leading lady.

After respectable profits earned by his first two directorial efforts, The Great McGinty and Christmas in July (both 1940), The Lady Eve was Preston Sturges's first A picture and first big hit, paving the way for greater freedom at Paramount.

The Lady Eve was also the first big comedy hit for Barbara Stanwyck -- who would score later the same year in Howard Hawk's Ball of Fire, opposite Gary Cooper -- and Henry Fonda, who would remain primarily associated with serious roles.

The Lady Eve marked the emergence of Barbara Stanwyck, the clotheshorse. It was her most glamorous role to date, and costume designer Edith Head, who would become a close friend, showed her how good she could look in high fashion. Stanwyck was so pleased that she had Head design her personal wardrobe for years after.

The chance to costume Stanwyck as two different characters gave Head the best showcase her costumes had ever had. She had already quietly risen to the top of Paramount's wardrobe department. With The Lady Eve she would begin to establish herself as Hollywood's leading designer of glamorous clothing.

Preston Sturges was one of Hollywood's first great writer-directors since the birth of talking films. His work on films like The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels (1941) and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) paved the way for other writer-directors such as John Huston, Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

By directing the scripts he wrote, Sturges became one of the most vivid precursors of the auteur school of film criticism, which proposed the idea that the director was the author of his films. His work would be re-discovered for later generations through the efforts of influential critics like Andre Bazin in France and Andrew Sarris in the U.S.

FAMOUS QUOTES FROM THE LADY EVE (1941)

"Don't be vulgar, Jean. Let us be crooked, but never common." -- Charles Coburn, as Colonel Harrington, reminding his daughter of the family motto.

"Pike's Pale, The Ale That Won for Yale." -- Ad line for Hopsie's (Henry Fonda) family business, initially quoted by Melville Cooper, as Gerald.

"We'd better get back now."
"Yes, I guess so. You see, where I've been, I mean up the Amazon, you kind of forget how, I mean, when you haven't seen a girl in a long time. I mean, there's something about that perfume that..."
"Don't you like my perfume?"
"Like it! I'm cock-eyed on it!"
"Why Hopsie! You ought to be kept in a cage!" -- Barbara Stanwyck, as Jean Harrington, getting cozy with Henry Fonda, as Charles "Hopsie" Pike.

"Well, it certainly took you long enough to come back in the same outfit."
"I'm lucky to have this on. Mr. Pike has been up a river for a year." -- Coburn, as Colonel Harrington, questioning Stanwyck, as Jean Harrington.

"Oh darling, hold me tight! Oh, you don't know what you've done to me."
"I'm terribly sorry."
"Oh, that's all right."
"I wouldn't have frightened you for anything in the world. I mean if there's anyone in the world I wouldn't have wanted to -- it's you."
"You're very sweet. Don't let me go." -- Stanwyck, as Jean, pretending to be scared of Fonda's pet snake.

"Snakes are my life, in a way."
"What a life!"--Fonda and Stanwyck.

"Gimme a spoonful of milk, a raw pigeon's egg and four house flies. If you can't catch any, I'll settle for a cockroach." -- William Demarest, as Muggsy, ordering breakfast but neglecting to tell the porter it's for Fonda's pet snake.

"I can just see myself roaming around your estate with a weedsticker and fifty cents a week. And a pair of new slippers for Christmas. The trouble with people who reform is they always want to rain on everybody else's parade too. You tend to your knitting. I'll play the cards."
"Not with him." -- Coburn kidding Stanwyck about her dreams of domestic bliss with Fonda.

"They say a moonlit deck is a woman's business office." -- Stanwyck, getting serious about her relationship with Fonda.

"You see, Hopsie, you don't know very much about girls! The best ones aren't as good as you probably think they are, and the bad ones aren't as bad. Not nearly as bad. So I suppose you're right to worry, falling in love with an adventuress on the high seas."
"Are you an adventuress?"
"Of course I am. All women are. They have to be. If you waited for a man to propose to you from natural causes, you'd die of old maidenhood. That's why I let you try my slippers on. And then I put my cheek against yours. And then I made you put your arms around me. And then I, I fell in love with you, which wasn't in the cards." -- Stanwyck, trying to explain herself to Fonda after he finds her out.

"I positively swill in their ale." -- Eric Blore, as Pearlie, bragging about his friendship with the Pikes to fellow con artists Stanwyck and Coburn.

"I need him like the axe needs the turkey." -- Stanwyck, plotting revenge on Fonda.

"That's the same dame. She looks the same, she walks the same, and she's tossing you just like she done the last time." -- Demarest, as Muggsy, pointing out Lady Eve Sidwich's resemblance to Jean.

"Why don't you put on a bathing suit?" -- Eugene Pallette, as Horace Pike, commenting on the repeated accidents that ruin Fonda's dinner clothes.

"I don't deserve you."
"Oh but you do, Charles. If anybody ever deserved me, you do. So richly." -- Fonda proposing to Stanwyck's Lady Eve.

"I wonder if now would be the time to tell you about - Herman?" -- Stanwyck, as Eve, confessing past indiscretions to new husband Fonda.

"Why didn't you take me in your arms that day...Why did you let me go? Why did we have to go through all this nonsense? Don't you know you're the only man I ever loved? Don't you know I couldn't look at another man if I wanted to? And don't you know I waited all my life for you, you big mug."
"Will you forgive me?"
"For what? Oh you mean, on the boat. The question is, can you forgive me?"
"What for?"
"Oh, you still don't understand."
"I don't want to understand. I don't want to know. Whatever it is, keep it to yourself. All I know is I adore you. I'll never leave you again. We'll work it out somehow. There's just one thing. I feel it's only fair to tell you. It would never have happened except she looked so exactly like you. And I have no right to be in your cabin."
"Why?"
"Because I'm married." "But so am I, darling. So am I."
-- Stanwyck's Jean making it up with Fonda.

"Positively the same dame!" -- Demarest, in the film's last line.

Compiled by Frank Miller

Trivia - The Lady Eve - Trivia & Fun Facts About THE LADY EVE

When snake expert Henry Fonda refers to Professor Marsdit at the film's opening, it's a backhand reference to Raymond L. Ditmars, the nation's leading reptile expert. To ensure authenticity, Sturges loaned the studio his own antique sterling silver for the posh dinner party at which Hopsie first meets Lady Eve Sidwich. The scene in which Eve agrees to divorce Hopsie only if he tells her to her face that he wants the divorce was taken from Sturges's own life. He had made the same demand of his second wife, Eleanor Hutton, whose wealthy family thought he had only married her for her money. The film's score includes melodies from three songs featured in earlier Paramount musicals, "Isn't It Romantic" and "Lover" from Love Me Tonight (1932) and "Cocktails for Two" from Murder at the Vanities (1934). Classical sections include the thunderstorm music from Rossini's William Tell and the "Pilgrim's Chorus" from Wagner's Tannhaüser. During filming, Henry Fonda brought his daughter, future star Jane Fonda, on set for her fourth birthday party. Stanwyck was so grateful for the way Edith Head glamorized her on screen, that she took the costume designer to see her dentist so she could have her teeth fixed. After The Lady Eve (and two others, The Mad Miss Manton in 1938 and You Belong to Me later in 1941), Fonda would always refer to Stanwyck as his favorite leading lady. After respectable profits earned by his first two directorial efforts, The Great McGinty and Christmas in July (both 1940), The Lady Eve was Preston Sturges's first A picture and first big hit, paving the way for greater freedom at Paramount. The Lady Eve was also the first big comedy hit for Barbara Stanwyck -- who would score later the same year in Howard Hawk's Ball of Fire, opposite Gary Cooper -- and Henry Fonda, who would remain primarily associated with serious roles. The Lady Eve marked the emergence of Barbara Stanwyck, the clotheshorse. It was her most glamorous role to date, and costume designer Edith Head, who would become a close friend, showed her how good she could look in high fashion. Stanwyck was so pleased that she had Head design her personal wardrobe for years after. The chance to costume Stanwyck as two different characters gave Head the best showcase her costumes had ever had. She had already quietly risen to the top of Paramount's wardrobe department. With The Lady Eve she would begin to establish herself as Hollywood's leading designer of glamorous clothing. Preston Sturges was one of Hollywood's first great writer-directors since the birth of talking films. His work on films like The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels (1941) and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) paved the way for other writer-directors such as John Huston, Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. By directing the scripts he wrote, Sturges became one of the most vivid precursors of the auteur school of film criticism, which proposed the idea that the director was the author of his films. His work would be re-discovered for later generations through the efforts of influential critics like Andre Bazin in France and Andrew Sarris in the U.S. FAMOUS QUOTES FROM THE LADY EVE (1941) "Don't be vulgar, Jean. Let us be crooked, but never common." -- Charles Coburn, as Colonel Harrington, reminding his daughter of the family motto. "Pike's Pale, The Ale That Won for Yale." -- Ad line for Hopsie's (Henry Fonda) family business, initially quoted by Melville Cooper, as Gerald. "We'd better get back now." "Yes, I guess so. You see, where I've been, I mean up the Amazon, you kind of forget how, I mean, when you haven't seen a girl in a long time. I mean, there's something about that perfume that..." "Don't you like my perfume?" "Like it! I'm cock-eyed on it!" "Why Hopsie! You ought to be kept in a cage!" -- Barbara Stanwyck, as Jean Harrington, getting cozy with Henry Fonda, as Charles "Hopsie" Pike. "Well, it certainly took you long enough to come back in the same outfit." "I'm lucky to have this on. Mr. Pike has been up a river for a year." -- Coburn, as Colonel Harrington, questioning Stanwyck, as Jean Harrington. "Oh darling, hold me tight! Oh, you don't know what you've done to me." "I'm terribly sorry." "Oh, that's all right." "I wouldn't have frightened you for anything in the world. I mean if there's anyone in the world I wouldn't have wanted to -- it's you." "You're very sweet. Don't let me go." -- Stanwyck, as Jean, pretending to be scared of Fonda's pet snake. "Snakes are my life, in a way." "What a life!"--Fonda and Stanwyck. "Gimme a spoonful of milk, a raw pigeon's egg and four house flies. If you can't catch any, I'll settle for a cockroach." -- William Demarest, as Muggsy, ordering breakfast but neglecting to tell the porter it's for Fonda's pet snake. "I can just see myself roaming around your estate with a weedsticker and fifty cents a week. And a pair of new slippers for Christmas. The trouble with people who reform is they always want to rain on everybody else's parade too. You tend to your knitting. I'll play the cards." "Not with him." -- Coburn kidding Stanwyck about her dreams of domestic bliss with Fonda. "They say a moonlit deck is a woman's business office." -- Stanwyck, getting serious about her relationship with Fonda. "You see, Hopsie, you don't know very much about girls! The best ones aren't as good as you probably think they are, and the bad ones aren't as bad. Not nearly as bad. So I suppose you're right to worry, falling in love with an adventuress on the high seas." "Are you an adventuress?" "Of course I am. All women are. They have to be. If you waited for a man to propose to you from natural causes, you'd die of old maidenhood. That's why I let you try my slippers on. And then I put my cheek against yours. And then I made you put your arms around me. And then I, I fell in love with you, which wasn't in the cards." -- Stanwyck, trying to explain herself to Fonda after he finds her out. "I positively swill in their ale." -- Eric Blore, as Pearlie, bragging about his friendship with the Pikes to fellow con artists Stanwyck and Coburn. "I need him like the axe needs the turkey." -- Stanwyck, plotting revenge on Fonda. "That's the same dame. She looks the same, she walks the same, and she's tossing you just like she done the last time." -- Demarest, as Muggsy, pointing out Lady Eve Sidwich's resemblance to Jean. "Why don't you put on a bathing suit?" -- Eugene Pallette, as Horace Pike, commenting on the repeated accidents that ruin Fonda's dinner clothes. "I don't deserve you." "Oh but you do, Charles. If anybody ever deserved me, you do. So richly." -- Fonda proposing to Stanwyck's Lady Eve. "I wonder if now would be the time to tell you about - Herman?" -- Stanwyck, as Eve, confessing past indiscretions to new husband Fonda. "Why didn't you take me in your arms that day...Why did you let me go? Why did we have to go through all this nonsense? Don't you know you're the only man I ever loved? Don't you know I couldn't look at another man if I wanted to? And don't you know I waited all my life for you, you big mug." "Will you forgive me?" "For what? Oh you mean, on the boat. The question is, can you forgive me?" "What for?" "Oh, you still don't understand." "I don't want to understand. I don't want to know. Whatever it is, keep it to yourself. All I know is I adore you. I'll never leave you again. We'll work it out somehow. There's just one thing. I feel it's only fair to tell you. It would never have happened except she looked so exactly like you. And I have no right to be in your cabin." "Why?" "Because I'm married." "But so am I, darling. So am I." -- Stanwyck's Jean making it up with Fonda. "Positively the same dame!" -- Demarest, in the film's last line. Compiled by Frank Miller

Trivia (6/4) - THE LADY EVE


Trivia and Other Fun Stuff on THE LADY EVE

When snake expert Henry Fonda refers to Professor Marsdit at the film's opening, it's a backhand reference to Raymond L. Ditmars, the nation's leading reptile expert.

To ensure authenticity, Sturges loaned the studio his own antique sterling silver for the posh dinner party at which Hopsie first meets Lady Eve Sidwich.

The scene in which Eve agrees to divorce Hopsie only if he tells her to her face that he wants the divorce was taken from Sturges's own life. He had made the same demand of his second wife, Eleanor Hutton, whose wealthy family thought he had only married her for her money.

The film's score includes melodies from three songs featured in earlier Paramount musicals, "Isn't It Romantic" and "Lover" from Love Me Tonight (1932) and "Cocktails for Two" from Murder at the Vanities (1934). Classical sections include the thunderstorm music from Rossini's William Tell and the "Pilgrim's Chorus" from Wagner's Tannhauser.

During filming, Henry Fonda brought his daughter, future star Jane Fonda, on set for her fourth birthday party.

Stanwyck was so grateful for the way Edith Head glamorized her on screen, that she took the costume designer to see her dentist so she could have her teeth fixed.

After The Lady Eve (and two others, The Mad Miss Manton in 1938 and You Belong to Me later in 1941), Fonda would always refer to Stanwyck as his favorite leading lady.

After respectable profits earned by his first two directorial efforts, The Great McGinty and Christmas in July (both 1940), The Lady Eve was Preston Sturges's first A picture and first big hit, paving the way for greater freedom at Paramount.

The Lady Eve was also the first big comedy hit for Barbara Stanwyck -- who would score later the same year in Howard Hawk's Ball of Fire, opposite Gary Cooper -- and Henry Fonda, who would remain primarily associated with serious roles.

The Lady Eve marked the emergence of Barbara Stanwyck, the clotheshorse. It was her most glamorous role to date, and costume designer Edith Head, who would become a close friend, showed her how good she could look in high fashion. Stanwyck was so pleased that she had Head design her personal wardrobe for years after.

The chance to costume Stanwyck as two different characters gave Head the best showcase her costumes had ever had. She had already quietly risen to the top of Paramount's wardrobe department. With The Lady Eve she would begin to establish herself as Hollywood's leading designer of glamorous clothing.

Preston Sturges was one of Hollywood's first great writer-directors since the birth of talking films. His work on films like The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels (1941) and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) paved the way for other writer-directors such as John Huston, Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

By directing the scripts he wrote, Sturges became one of the most vivid precursors of the auteur school of film criticism, which proposed the idea that the director was the author of his films. His work would be re-discovered for later generations through the efforts of influential critics like Andre Bazin in France and Andrew Sarris in the U.S.

by Frank Miller

Famous Quotes from THE LADY EVE

"Don't be vulgar, Jean. Let us be crooked, but never common." -- Charles Coburn, as Colonel Harrington, reminding his daughter of the family motto.

"Pike's Pale, The Ale That Won for Yale." -- Ad line for Hopsie's (Henry Fonda) family business, initially quoted by Melville Cooper, as Gerald.

"We'd better get back now."
"Yes, I guess so. You see, where I've been, I mean up the Amazon, you kind of forget how, I mean, when you haven't seen a girl in a long time. I mean, there's something about that perfume that..."
"Don't you like my perfume?"
"Like it! I'm cock-eyed on it!"
"Why Hopsie! You ought to be kept in a cage!" -- Barbara Stanwyck, as Jean Harrington, getting cozy with Henry Fonda, as Charles "Hopsie" Pike.

"Well, it certainly took you long enough to come back in the same outfit."
"I'm lucky to have this on. Mr. Pike has been up a river for a year." -- Coburn, as Colonel Harrington, questioning Stanwyck, as Jean Harrington.

"Oh darling, hold me tight! Oh, you don't know what you've done to me."
"I'm terribly sorry."
"Oh, that's all right."
"I wouldn't have frightened you for anything in the world. I mean if there's anyone in the world I wouldn't have wanted to -- it's you."
"You're very sweet. Don't let me go." -- Stanwyck, as Jean, pretending to be scared of Fonda's pet snake.

"Snakes are my life, in a way."
"What a life!"--Fonda and Stanwyck.

"Gimme a spoonful of milk, a raw pigeon's egg and four house flies. If you can't catch any, I'll settle for a cockroach." -- William Demarest, as Muggsy, ordering breakfast but neglecting to tell the porter it's for Fonda's pet snake.

"I can just see myself roaming around your estate with a weedsticker and fifty cents a week. And a pair of new slippers for Christmas. The trouble with people who reform is they always want to rain on everybody else's parade too. You tend to your knitting. I'll play the cards."
"Not with him." -- Coburn kidding Stanwyck about her dreams of domestic bliss with Fonda.

"They say a moonlit deck is a woman's business office." -- Stanwyck, getting serious about her relationship with Fonda.

"You see, Hopsie, you don't know very much about girls! The best ones aren't as good as you probably think they are, and the bad ones aren't as bad. Not nearly as bad. So I suppose you're right to worry, falling in love with an adventuress on the high seas."
"Are you an adventuress?"
"Of course I am. All women are. They have to be. If you waited for a man to propose to you from natural causes, you'd die of old maidenhood. That's why I let you try my slippers on. And then I put my cheek against yours. And then I made you put your arms around me. And then I, I fell in love with you, which wasn't in the cards." -- Stanwyck, trying to explain herself to Fonda after he finds her out.

"I positively swill in their ale." -- Eric Blore, as Pearlie, bragging about his friendship with the Pikes to fellow con artists Stanwyck and Coburn.

"I need him like the axe needs the turkey." -- Stanwyck, plotting revenge on Fonda.

"That's the same dame. She looks the same, she walks the same, and she's tossing you just like she done the last time." -- Demarest, as Muggsy, pointing out Lady Eve Sidwich's resemblance to Jean.

"Why don't you put on a bathing suit?" -- Eugene Pallette, as Horace Pike, commenting on the repeated accidents that ruin Fonda's dinner clothes.

"I don't deserve you."
"Oh but you do, Charles. If anybody ever deserved me, you do. So richly." -- Fonda proposing to Stanwyck's Lady Eve.

"I wonder if now would be the time to tell you about - Herman?" -- Stanwyck, as Eve, confessing past indiscretions to new husband Fonda.

"Why didn't you take me in your arms that day...Why did you let me go? Why did we have to go through all this nonsense? Don't you know you're the only man I ever loved? Don't you know I couldn't look at another man if I wanted to? And don't you know I waited all my life for you, you big mug."
"Will you forgive me?"
"For what? Oh you mean, on the boat. The question is, can you forgive me?"
"What for?"
"Oh, you still don't understand."
"I don't want to understand. I don't want to know. Whatever it is, keep it to yourself. All I know is I adore you. I'll never leave you again. We'll work it out somehow. There's just one thing. I feel it's only fair to tell you. It would never have happened except she looked so exactly like you. And I have no right to be in your cabin."
"Why?"
"Because I'm married." "But so am I, darling. So am I."
-- Stanwyck's Jean making it up with Fonda.

"Positively the same dame!" -- Demarest, in the film's last line.

Compiled by Frank Miller

Trivia (6/4) - THE LADY EVE

Trivia and Other Fun Stuff on THE LADY EVE When snake expert Henry Fonda refers to Professor Marsdit at the film's opening, it's a backhand reference to Raymond L. Ditmars, the nation's leading reptile expert. To ensure authenticity, Sturges loaned the studio his own antique sterling silver for the posh dinner party at which Hopsie first meets Lady Eve Sidwich. The scene in which Eve agrees to divorce Hopsie only if he tells her to her face that he wants the divorce was taken from Sturges's own life. He had made the same demand of his second wife, Eleanor Hutton, whose wealthy family thought he had only married her for her money. The film's score includes melodies from three songs featured in earlier Paramount musicals, "Isn't It Romantic" and "Lover" from Love Me Tonight (1932) and "Cocktails for Two" from Murder at the Vanities (1934). Classical sections include the thunderstorm music from Rossini's William Tell and the "Pilgrim's Chorus" from Wagner's Tannhauser. During filming, Henry Fonda brought his daughter, future star Jane Fonda, on set for her fourth birthday party. Stanwyck was so grateful for the way Edith Head glamorized her on screen, that she took the costume designer to see her dentist so she could have her teeth fixed. After The Lady Eve (and two others, The Mad Miss Manton in 1938 and You Belong to Me later in 1941), Fonda would always refer to Stanwyck as his favorite leading lady. After respectable profits earned by his first two directorial efforts, The Great McGinty and Christmas in July (both 1940), The Lady Eve was Preston Sturges's first A picture and first big hit, paving the way for greater freedom at Paramount. The Lady Eve was also the first big comedy hit for Barbara Stanwyck -- who would score later the same year in Howard Hawk's Ball of Fire, opposite Gary Cooper -- and Henry Fonda, who would remain primarily associated with serious roles. The Lady Eve marked the emergence of Barbara Stanwyck, the clotheshorse. It was her most glamorous role to date, and costume designer Edith Head, who would become a close friend, showed her how good she could look in high fashion. Stanwyck was so pleased that she had Head design her personal wardrobe for years after. The chance to costume Stanwyck as two different characters gave Head the best showcase her costumes had ever had. She had already quietly risen to the top of Paramount's wardrobe department. With The Lady Eve she would begin to establish herself as Hollywood's leading designer of glamorous clothing. Preston Sturges was one of Hollywood's first great writer-directors since the birth of talking films. His work on films like The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels (1941) and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) paved the way for other writer-directors such as John Huston, Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. By directing the scripts he wrote, Sturges became one of the most vivid precursors of the auteur school of film criticism, which proposed the idea that the director was the author of his films. His work would be re-discovered for later generations through the efforts of influential critics like Andre Bazin in France and Andrew Sarris in the U.S. by Frank Miller Famous Quotes from THE LADY EVE "Don't be vulgar, Jean. Let us be crooked, but never common." -- Charles Coburn, as Colonel Harrington, reminding his daughter of the family motto. "Pike's Pale, The Ale That Won for Yale." -- Ad line for Hopsie's (Henry Fonda) family business, initially quoted by Melville Cooper, as Gerald. "We'd better get back now." "Yes, I guess so. You see, where I've been, I mean up the Amazon, you kind of forget how, I mean, when you haven't seen a girl in a long time. I mean, there's something about that perfume that..." "Don't you like my perfume?" "Like it! I'm cock-eyed on it!" "Why Hopsie! You ought to be kept in a cage!" -- Barbara Stanwyck, as Jean Harrington, getting cozy with Henry Fonda, as Charles "Hopsie" Pike. "Well, it certainly took you long enough to come back in the same outfit." "I'm lucky to have this on. Mr. Pike has been up a river for a year." -- Coburn, as Colonel Harrington, questioning Stanwyck, as Jean Harrington. "Oh darling, hold me tight! Oh, you don't know what you've done to me." "I'm terribly sorry." "Oh, that's all right." "I wouldn't have frightened you for anything in the world. I mean if there's anyone in the world I wouldn't have wanted to -- it's you." "You're very sweet. Don't let me go." -- Stanwyck, as Jean, pretending to be scared of Fonda's pet snake. "Snakes are my life, in a way." "What a life!"--Fonda and Stanwyck. "Gimme a spoonful of milk, a raw pigeon's egg and four house flies. If you can't catch any, I'll settle for a cockroach." -- William Demarest, as Muggsy, ordering breakfast but neglecting to tell the porter it's for Fonda's pet snake. "I can just see myself roaming around your estate with a weedsticker and fifty cents a week. And a pair of new slippers for Christmas. The trouble with people who reform is they always want to rain on everybody else's parade too. You tend to your knitting. I'll play the cards." "Not with him." -- Coburn kidding Stanwyck about her dreams of domestic bliss with Fonda. "They say a moonlit deck is a woman's business office." -- Stanwyck, getting serious about her relationship with Fonda. "You see, Hopsie, you don't know very much about girls! The best ones aren't as good as you probably think they are, and the bad ones aren't as bad. Not nearly as bad. So I suppose you're right to worry, falling in love with an adventuress on the high seas." "Are you an adventuress?" "Of course I am. All women are. They have to be. If you waited for a man to propose to you from natural causes, you'd die of old maidenhood. That's why I let you try my slippers on. And then I put my cheek against yours. And then I made you put your arms around me. And then I, I fell in love with you, which wasn't in the cards." -- Stanwyck, trying to explain herself to Fonda after he finds her out. "I positively swill in their ale." -- Eric Blore, as Pearlie, bragging about his friendship with the Pikes to fellow con artists Stanwyck and Coburn. "I need him like the axe needs the turkey." -- Stanwyck, plotting revenge on Fonda. "That's the same dame. She looks the same, she walks the same, and she's tossing you just like she done the last time." -- Demarest, as Muggsy, pointing out Lady Eve Sidwich's resemblance to Jean. "Why don't you put on a bathing suit?" -- Eugene Pallette, as Horace Pike, commenting on the repeated accidents that ruin Fonda's dinner clothes. "I don't deserve you." "Oh but you do, Charles. If anybody ever deserved me, you do. So richly." -- Fonda proposing to Stanwyck's Lady Eve. "I wonder if now would be the time to tell you about - Herman?" -- Stanwyck, as Eve, confessing past indiscretions to new husband Fonda. "Why didn't you take me in your arms that day...Why did you let me go? Why did we have to go through all this nonsense? Don't you know you're the only man I ever loved? Don't you know I couldn't look at another man if I wanted to? And don't you know I waited all my life for you, you big mug." "Will you forgive me?" "For what? Oh you mean, on the boat. The question is, can you forgive me?" "What for?" "Oh, you still don't understand." "I don't want to understand. I don't want to know. Whatever it is, keep it to yourself. All I know is I adore you. I'll never leave you again. We'll work it out somehow. There's just one thing. I feel it's only fair to tell you. It would never have happened except she looked so exactly like you. And I have no right to be in your cabin." "Why?" "Because I'm married." "But so am I, darling. So am I." -- Stanwyck's Jean making it up with Fonda. "Positively the same dame!" -- Demarest, in the film's last line. Compiled by Frank Miller

The Big Idea - The Lady Eve


Preston Sturges was one of Hollywood's top screenwriters but also wanted to direct, feeling that too many other directors had ruined his work. He wrote the political satire The Great McGinty (1940), then offered to sell it to Paramount for $1 if they would let him direct it. They did, although the film had only a modest budget. Then they let him direct Christmas in July (1940), again with a modest budget. When both films proved hits with critics and audiences, they gave him a much larger budget for his third film, The Lady Eve.

Sturges had first met Barbara Stanwyck when he wrote Remember the Night (1940), a romantic comedy in which she plays a jailed shoplifter forced to spend Christmas with D.A. Fred MacMurray. Writer and actress became friends, and he promised to write her a great screwball comedy, a genre in which she was rarely cast because of her image as a hard-luck character.

Sturges originally wrote the screenplay that would become The Lady Eve in 1938, but kept it to himself until 1940. Then he re-worked it incorporating ideas from Irish writer Monckton Hoffe's story "Two Bad Hats." He also tailored the film to Stanwyck's talents.

The plot was inspired by Sturges's mother, a female entrepreneur who had always managed to find a wealthy husband whenever her finances slipped, and by the biblical story of Adam and Eve's temptation. To underline the latter source, Sturges made his leading man an ophiologist (a scientist studying snakes).

The leading lady's nom de guerre and the film's title were inspired by a woman with whom Sturges had been involved as a young man, Lady Eve Waddington-Greeley.

Executives at Paramount wanted to save money by casting one of their contract leading ladies -- either Paulette Goddard or Madeleine Carroll -- in the lead. Sturges insisted on using Stanwyck. Her salary and the fee to borrow Henry Fonda from 20th Century-Fox cost almost as much as the entire budget of Sturges's first picture as a director.

It was partly luck that resulted in Stanwyck appearing in The Lady Eve: an eye infection requiring surgery had forced her to drop out of another film, Reaching for the Sun (1941), which ended up starring Ellen Drew. Sturges visited her in the hospital and told her he'd have a script ready for her by the time she recovered.

For the supporting roles, Sturges turned mainly to a group of actors who followed him from film to film and earned the collective name "The Preston Sturges Stock Company." Among them were William Demarest (Muggsy), Robert Greig (Burrows) and Jimmy Conlin (Third Steward).

by Frank Miller

The Big Idea - The Lady Eve

Preston Sturges was one of Hollywood's top screenwriters but also wanted to direct, feeling that too many other directors had ruined his work. He wrote the political satire The Great McGinty (1940), then offered to sell it to Paramount for $1 if they would let him direct it. They did, although the film had only a modest budget. Then they let him direct Christmas in July (1940), again with a modest budget. When both films proved hits with critics and audiences, they gave him a much larger budget for his third film, The Lady Eve. Sturges had first met Barbara Stanwyck when he wrote Remember the Night (1940), a romantic comedy in which she plays a jailed shoplifter forced to spend Christmas with D.A. Fred MacMurray. Writer and actress became friends, and he promised to write her a great screwball comedy, a genre in which she was rarely cast because of her image as a hard-luck character. Sturges originally wrote the screenplay that would become The Lady Eve in 1938, but kept it to himself until 1940. Then he re-worked it incorporating ideas from Irish writer Monckton Hoffe's story "Two Bad Hats." He also tailored the film to Stanwyck's talents. The plot was inspired by Sturges's mother, a female entrepreneur who had always managed to find a wealthy husband whenever her finances slipped, and by the biblical story of Adam and Eve's temptation. To underline the latter source, Sturges made his leading man an ophiologist (a scientist studying snakes). The leading lady's nom de guerre and the film's title were inspired by a woman with whom Sturges had been involved as a young man, Lady Eve Waddington-Greeley. Executives at Paramount wanted to save money by casting one of their contract leading ladies -- either Paulette Goddard or Madeleine Carroll -- in the lead. Sturges insisted on using Stanwyck. Her salary and the fee to borrow Henry Fonda from 20th Century-Fox cost almost as much as the entire budget of Sturges's first picture as a director. It was partly luck that resulted in Stanwyck appearing in The Lady Eve: an eye infection requiring surgery had forced her to drop out of another film, Reaching for the Sun (1941), which ended up starring Ellen Drew. Sturges visited her in the hospital and told her he'd have a script ready for her by the time she recovered. For the supporting roles, Sturges turned mainly to a group of actors who followed him from film to film and earned the collective name "The Preston Sturges Stock Company." Among them were William Demarest (Muggsy), Robert Greig (Burrows) and Jimmy Conlin (Third Steward). by Frank Miller

The Big Idea (6/4) - THE LADY EVE


The Big Idea Behind THE LADY EVE

Preston Sturges was one of Hollywood's top screenwriters but also wanted to direct, feeling that too many other directors had ruined his work. He wrote the political satire The Great McGinty (1940), then offered to sell it to Paramount for $1 if they would let him direct it. They did, although the film had only a modest budget. Then they let him direct Christmas in July (1940), again with a modest budget. When both films proved hits with critics and audiences, they gave him a much larger budget for his third film, The Lady Eve.

Sturges had first met Barbara Stanwyck when he wrote Remember the Night (1940), a romantic comedy in which she plays a jailed shoplifter forced to spend Christmas with D.A. Fred MacMurray. Writer and actress became friends, and he promised to write her a great screwball comedy, a genre in which she was rarely cast because of her image as a hard-luck character.

Sturges originally wrote the screenplay that would become The Lady Eve in 1938, but kept it to himself until 1940. Then he re-worked it incorporating ideas from Irish writer Monckton Hoffe's story "Two Bad Hats." He also tailored the film to Stanwyck's talents.

The plot was inspired by Sturges's mother, a female entrepreneur who had always managed to find a wealthy husband whenever her finances slipped, and by the biblical story of Adam and Eve's temptation. To underline the latter source, Sturges made his leading man an ophiologist (a scientist studying snakes).

The leading lady's nom de guerre and the film's title were inspired by a woman with whom Sturges had been involved as a young man, Lady Eve Waddington-Greeley.

Executives at Paramount wanted to save money by casting one of their contract leading ladies -- either Paulette Goddard or Madeleine Carroll -- in the lead. Sturges insisted on using Stanwyck. Her salary and the fee to borrow Henry Fonda from 20th Century-Fox cost almost as much as the entire budget of Sturges's first picture as a director.

It was partly luck that resulted in Stanwyck appearing in The Lady Eve: an eye infection requiring surgery had forced her to drop out of another film, Reaching for the Sun (1941), which ended up starring Ellen Drew. Sturges visited her in the hospital and told her he'd have a script ready for her by the time she recovered.

For the supporting roles, Sturges turned mainly to a group of actors who followed him from film to film and earned the collective name "The Preston Sturges Stock Company." Among them were William Demarest (Muggsy), Robert Greig (Burrows) and Jimmy Conlin (Third Steward).

by Frank Miller

The Big Idea (6/4) - THE LADY EVE

The Big Idea Behind THE LADY EVE Preston Sturges was one of Hollywood's top screenwriters but also wanted to direct, feeling that too many other directors had ruined his work. He wrote the political satire The Great McGinty (1940), then offered to sell it to Paramount for $1 if they would let him direct it. They did, although the film had only a modest budget. Then they let him direct Christmas in July (1940), again with a modest budget. When both films proved hits with critics and audiences, they gave him a much larger budget for his third film, The Lady Eve. Sturges had first met Barbara Stanwyck when he wrote Remember the Night (1940), a romantic comedy in which she plays a jailed shoplifter forced to spend Christmas with D.A. Fred MacMurray. Writer and actress became friends, and he promised to write her a great screwball comedy, a genre in which she was rarely cast because of her image as a hard-luck character. Sturges originally wrote the screenplay that would become The Lady Eve in 1938, but kept it to himself until 1940. Then he re-worked it incorporating ideas from Irish writer Monckton Hoffe's story "Two Bad Hats." He also tailored the film to Stanwyck's talents. The plot was inspired by Sturges's mother, a female entrepreneur who had always managed to find a wealthy husband whenever her finances slipped, and by the biblical story of Adam and Eve's temptation. To underline the latter source, Sturges made his leading man an ophiologist (a scientist studying snakes). The leading lady's nom de guerre and the film's title were inspired by a woman with whom Sturges had been involved as a young man, Lady Eve Waddington-Greeley. Executives at Paramount wanted to save money by casting one of their contract leading ladies -- either Paulette Goddard or Madeleine Carroll -- in the lead. Sturges insisted on using Stanwyck. Her salary and the fee to borrow Henry Fonda from 20th Century-Fox cost almost as much as the entire budget of Sturges's first picture as a director. It was partly luck that resulted in Stanwyck appearing in The Lady Eve: an eye infection requiring surgery had forced her to drop out of another film, Reaching for the Sun (1941), which ended up starring Ellen Drew. Sturges visited her in the hospital and told her he'd have a script ready for her by the time she recovered. For the supporting roles, Sturges turned mainly to a group of actors who followed him from film to film and earned the collective name "The Preston Sturges Stock Company." Among them were William Demarest (Muggsy), Robert Greig (Burrows) and Jimmy Conlin (Third Steward). by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera - The Lady Eve


The Lady Eve started shooting the last week of October 1940, just two months after writer-director Preston Sturges had completed his previous film, Christmas in July (1940).

To maintain a light atmosphere on the set, Sturges encouraged visitors. Friends, press representatives and even the general public were free to visit his sets and watch him at work.

With so many people on the set, Sturges dressed eccentrically so that he would stand out. During the filming of The Lady Eve, he usually wore either a brightly colored beret or a hat with a feather in it. This sartorial splendor led to his being dubbed the worst-dressed man in Hollywood.

Adding to the light atmosphere on the set, stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda rarely retired to their dressing rooms between takes. Instead, they hung out with Sturges, listening to his stories and reviewing -- and often re-writing -- their lines.

Sturges always handled his stars with kid gloves but took out his frustrations on the members of his stock company. At one point during filming, when he couldn't get Fonda and Stanwyck to read a scene the way he wanted, he stalked over to William Demarest, who wasn't even in the scene, and barked, "And don't talk so damn fast!"

Friends of Sturges's who read the script tried to convince him to cut the number of pratfalls taken by Fonda, arguing that they were too much of a good thing. Sturges didn't agree, and the slapstick bits later proved to be among the film's highlights.

The Lady Eve finished production in November 1940, just two days behind schedule.

Paramount was so pleased with Sturges's first two directorial efforts and his work on The Lady Eve that the studio gave him a more lucrative contract at the end of 1940, paying him $2,750 a week for his work as a writer and a $30,000 bonus for each film he directed. He earned more than $200,000 in 1940, the year he shot The Lady Eve.

Taglines for the film's original release included "Barbara Stanwyck has Henry Fonda Bewitched and Bewildered" and "When you deal a fast shuffle...Love is in the cards."

The Lady Eve opened to excellent reviews and a strong box office on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 1941.

by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera - The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve started shooting the last week of October 1940, just two months after writer-director Preston Sturges had completed his previous film, Christmas in July (1940). To maintain a light atmosphere on the set, Sturges encouraged visitors. Friends, press representatives and even the general public were free to visit his sets and watch him at work. With so many people on the set, Sturges dressed eccentrically so that he would stand out. During the filming of The Lady Eve, he usually wore either a brightly colored beret or a hat with a feather in it. This sartorial splendor led to his being dubbed the worst-dressed man in Hollywood. Adding to the light atmosphere on the set, stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda rarely retired to their dressing rooms between takes. Instead, they hung out with Sturges, listening to his stories and reviewing -- and often re-writing -- their lines. Sturges always handled his stars with kid gloves but took out his frustrations on the members of his stock company. At one point during filming, when he couldn't get Fonda and Stanwyck to read a scene the way he wanted, he stalked over to William Demarest, who wasn't even in the scene, and barked, "And don't talk so damn fast!" Friends of Sturges's who read the script tried to convince him to cut the number of pratfalls taken by Fonda, arguing that they were too much of a good thing. Sturges didn't agree, and the slapstick bits later proved to be among the film's highlights. The Lady Eve finished production in November 1940, just two days behind schedule. Paramount was so pleased with Sturges's first two directorial efforts and his work on The Lady Eve that the studio gave him a more lucrative contract at the end of 1940, paying him $2,750 a week for his work as a writer and a $30,000 bonus for each film he directed. He earned more than $200,000 in 1940, the year he shot The Lady Eve. Taglines for the film's original release included "Barbara Stanwyck has Henry Fonda Bewitched and Bewildered" and "When you deal a fast shuffle...Love is in the cards." The Lady Eve opened to excellent reviews and a strong box office on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 1941. by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera (6/4) - THE LADY EVE


Behind the Camera on THE LADY EVE

The Lady Eve started shooting the last week of October 1940, just two months after writer-director Preston Sturges had completed his previous film, Christmas in July (1940).

To maintain a light atmosphere on the set, Sturges encouraged visitors. Friends, press representatives and even the general public were free to visit his sets and watch him at work.

With so many people on the set, Sturges dressed eccentrically so that he would stand out. During the filming of The Lady Eve, he usually wore either a brightly colored beret or a hat with a feather in it. This sartorial splendor led to his being dubbed the worst-dressed man in Hollywood.

Adding to the light atmosphere on the set, stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda rarely retired to their dressing rooms between takes. Instead, they hung out with Sturges, listening to his stories and reviewing -- and often re-writing -- their lines.

Sturges always handled his stars with kid gloves but took out his frustrations on the members of his stock company. At one point during filming, when he couldn't get Fonda and Stanwyck to read a scene the way he wanted, he stalked over to William Demarest, who wasn't even in the scene, and barked, "And don't talk so damn fast!"

Friends of Sturges's who read the script tried to convince him to cut the number of pratfalls taken by Fonda, arguing that they were too much of a good thing. Sturges didn't agree, and the slapstick bits later proved to be among the film's highlights.

The Lady Eve finished production in November 1940, just two days behind schedule.

Paramount was so pleased with Sturges's first two directorial efforts and his work on The Lady Eve that the studio gave him a more lucrative contract at the end of 1940, paying him $2,750 a week for his work as a writer and a $30,000 bonus for each film he directed. He earned more than $200,000 in 1940, the year he shot The Lady Eve.

Taglines for the film's original release included "Barbara Stanwyck has Henry Fonda Bewitched and Bewildered" and "When you deal a fast shuffle - Love is in the cards."

The Lady Eve opened to excellent reviews and a strong box office on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 1941.

by Frank Miller

Behind the Camera (6/4) - THE LADY EVE

Behind the Camera on THE LADY EVE The Lady Eve started shooting the last week of October 1940, just two months after writer-director Preston Sturges had completed his previous film, Christmas in July (1940). To maintain a light atmosphere on the set, Sturges encouraged visitors. Friends, press representatives and even the general public were free to visit his sets and watch him at work. With so many people on the set, Sturges dressed eccentrically so that he would stand out. During the filming of The Lady Eve, he usually wore either a brightly colored beret or a hat with a feather in it. This sartorial splendor led to his being dubbed the worst-dressed man in Hollywood. Adding to the light atmosphere on the set, stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda rarely retired to their dressing rooms between takes. Instead, they hung out with Sturges, listening to his stories and reviewing -- and often re-writing -- their lines. Sturges always handled his stars with kid gloves but took out his frustrations on the members of his stock company. At one point during filming, when he couldn't get Fonda and Stanwyck to read a scene the way he wanted, he stalked over to William Demarest, who wasn't even in the scene, and barked, "And don't talk so damn fast!" Friends of Sturges's who read the script tried to convince him to cut the number of pratfalls taken by Fonda, arguing that they were too much of a good thing. Sturges didn't agree, and the slapstick bits later proved to be among the film's highlights. The Lady Eve finished production in November 1940, just two days behind schedule. Paramount was so pleased with Sturges's first two directorial efforts and his work on The Lady Eve that the studio gave him a more lucrative contract at the end of 1940, paying him $2,750 a week for his work as a writer and a $30,000 bonus for each film he directed. He earned more than $200,000 in 1940, the year he shot The Lady Eve. Taglines for the film's original release included "Barbara Stanwyck has Henry Fonda Bewitched and Bewildered" and "When you deal a fast shuffle - Love is in the cards." The Lady Eve opened to excellent reviews and a strong box office on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 1941. by Frank Miller

The Critics Corner (6/4) - THE LADY EVE


The Critics' Corner on THE LADY EVE

The Lady Eve grossed $115,700 in its first three weeks, a high figure for the period. It ended up one of the top 20 films at the box office for its year.

"With The Lady Eve, Preston Sturges is indisputably established as one of the top one or two writers and directors of comedy working in Hollywood today. A more charming or distinguished gem of nonsense has not occurred since It Happened One Night [1934]. Superlatives like that are dangerous, but superlatives like The Lady Eve are much too rare for the careful weighting of words. And much too precious a boon in these grim and mirthless times." -- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times.

"Barbara Stanwyck, who always struck me as a wooden portrayer of rather lugubrious roles, is enchanting. In a series of stunning get-ups, she is alluring as well as artful in performing the key role of the show. Fonda, as the rich sucker who is made a fool of after making a fool of himself, has a far easier job of make-believe, but he is splendid in any case." -- Howard Barnes, New York Herald Tribune.

"The sheer density of Sturges's dialogue is even more staggering today [1964] than it was at the time. He wrote more funny lines for his bit players than contemporary jokesmiths can write for their leads." -- Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice.

"A frivolous masterpiece. Like Bringing Up Baby [1938], The Lady Eve is a mixture of visual and verbal slapstick, and of high artifice and pratfalls...it represents the dizzy high point of Sturges's comedy writing." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies.

"If I were asked to name the single scene in all of romantic comedy that was sexiest and funniest at the same time, I would advise beginning at six seconds past the 20-minute mark in Preston Sturges's "The Lady Eve,'' and watching as Barbara Stanwyck toys with Henry Fonda's hair in an unbroken shot that lasts three minutes and 51 seconds." -- Robert Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

"Sturges takes standard screwball-comedy material and turns it into a zany classic. Film has an irresistible blend of quirky characters, snappy dialogue, slapstick, and sex. Fonda will surprise you with his skillful pratfalls. Stanwyck is so personable and vivacious that you feel that all the men whose money she stole got their money's worth..." - Danny Peary, Guide For the Film Fanatic.

"If The Lady Eve is his [Sturges'] best film, it is also the most conventional - the story is Hawksian in the pugnacity of its sexual conflict - and the one least troubled by background characters, delightful but foolish coincidence, and those sudden lurches in a new direction that suggest a magician losing control of his assistants." - David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.

"A beguilingly ribald sex comedy, spattered with characteristic Sturges slapstick (Fonda can hardly move without courting disaster) and speech patterns ("Let us be crooked, but never common," urges [Charles] Coburn's conman). Fonda and Stanwyck are superbly paired...not just funny, but surprisingly moving, given the tender romantic warmth of the early shipboard scenes..." - Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide.

"Hectic romantic farce, the first to show its director's penchant for mixing up sexual innuendo, funny men and pratfalls. There are moments when the pace drops, but in general it's scintillating entertainment." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide.

"The whole theme, with all its variations of keys, is played to one end, to get laughs, and at several different levels it gets them." - National Board of Review.

"...laugh entertainment of top proportions with its combo of slick situations, spontaneous dialog and a few slapstick falls tossed in for good measure...Sturges provides numerous sparkling situations in his direction and keeps picture moving at a merry pace." - Variety Movie Guide.

AWARDS & HONORS

The Lady Eve was honored as Best Picture of the month by the trade paper the Hollywood Reporter. They also honored Preston Sturges for his directing and writing and Barbara Stanwyck for her performance.

Monckton Hoffe received an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Story. He lost to Harry Segal for Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Stanwyck was not nominated for Best Actress for The Lady Eve but for another 1941 comedy, Ball of Fire.

The Lady Eve was voted onto the National Film Registry in 1994.

In The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards (St. Martin's Paperbacks: 1996), Michael Gebert named Stanwyck Best Actress of 1941 for her performance in The Lady Eve.

Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

The Critics Corner (6/4) - THE LADY EVE

The Critics' Corner on THE LADY EVE The Lady Eve grossed $115,700 in its first three weeks, a high figure for the period. It ended up one of the top 20 films at the box office for its year. "With The Lady Eve, Preston Sturges is indisputably established as one of the top one or two writers and directors of comedy working in Hollywood today. A more charming or distinguished gem of nonsense has not occurred since It Happened One Night [1934]. Superlatives like that are dangerous, but superlatives like The Lady Eve are much too rare for the careful weighting of words. And much too precious a boon in these grim and mirthless times." -- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times. "Barbara Stanwyck, who always struck me as a wooden portrayer of rather lugubrious roles, is enchanting. In a series of stunning get-ups, she is alluring as well as artful in performing the key role of the show. Fonda, as the rich sucker who is made a fool of after making a fool of himself, has a far easier job of make-believe, but he is splendid in any case." -- Howard Barnes, New York Herald Tribune. "The sheer density of Sturges's dialogue is even more staggering today [1964] than it was at the time. He wrote more funny lines for his bit players than contemporary jokesmiths can write for their leads." -- Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice. "A frivolous masterpiece. Like Bringing Up Baby [1938], The Lady Eve is a mixture of visual and verbal slapstick, and of high artifice and pratfalls...it represents the dizzy high point of Sturges's comedy writing." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies. "If I were asked to name the single scene in all of romantic comedy that was sexiest and funniest at the same time, I would advise beginning at six seconds past the 20-minute mark in Preston Sturges's "The Lady Eve,'' and watching as Barbara Stanwyck toys with Henry Fonda's hair in an unbroken shot that lasts three minutes and 51 seconds." -- Robert Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times. "Sturges takes standard screwball-comedy material and turns it into a zany classic. Film has an irresistible blend of quirky characters, snappy dialogue, slapstick, and sex. Fonda will surprise you with his skillful pratfalls. Stanwyck is so personable and vivacious that you feel that all the men whose money she stole got their money's worth..." - Danny Peary, Guide For the Film Fanatic. "If The Lady Eve is his [Sturges'] best film, it is also the most conventional - the story is Hawksian in the pugnacity of its sexual conflict - and the one least troubled by background characters, delightful but foolish coincidence, and those sudden lurches in a new direction that suggest a magician losing control of his assistants." - David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. "A beguilingly ribald sex comedy, spattered with characteristic Sturges slapstick (Fonda can hardly move without courting disaster) and speech patterns ("Let us be crooked, but never common," urges [Charles] Coburn's conman). Fonda and Stanwyck are superbly paired...not just funny, but surprisingly moving, given the tender romantic warmth of the early shipboard scenes..." - Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide. "Hectic romantic farce, the first to show its director's penchant for mixing up sexual innuendo, funny men and pratfalls. There are moments when the pace drops, but in general it's scintillating entertainment." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide. "The whole theme, with all its variations of keys, is played to one end, to get laughs, and at several different levels it gets them." - National Board of Review. "...laugh entertainment of top proportions with its combo of slick situations, spontaneous dialog and a few slapstick falls tossed in for good measure...Sturges provides numerous sparkling situations in his direction and keeps picture moving at a merry pace." - Variety Movie Guide. AWARDS & HONORS The Lady Eve was honored as Best Picture of the month by the trade paper the Hollywood Reporter. They also honored Preston Sturges for his directing and writing and Barbara Stanwyck for her performance. Monckton Hoffe received an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Story. He lost to Harry Segal for Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Stanwyck was not nominated for Best Actress for The Lady Eve but for another 1941 comedy, Ball of Fire. The Lady Eve was voted onto the National Film Registry in 1994. In The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards (St. Martin's Paperbacks: 1996), Michael Gebert named Stanwyck Best Actress of 1941 for her performance in The Lady Eve. Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

The Lady Eve


The crown jewel in Preston Sturges' career as writer-director, The Lady Eve (1941) is one of those rare comedies that manages to be genuinely sexy, funny, and romantic, all at the same time. It's inconceivable that Hollywood could make a film this witty now but the high quality of the writing, the flawless direction and the impeccable performances of the ensemble cast should serve as inspiration for any filmmaker who wants to make a great romantic comedy. Sturges' film opens on a cruise ship where we are introduced to 'Colonel' Harry Harrington (Charles Coburn) and his daughter Jean (Barbara Stanwyck), two cardsharps who make their living fleecing the rich. Once Jean learns that Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), the son of a wealthy brewer, is on board, she attempts to lure him into her 'trap.' The path to riches, however, is full of unexpected detours.

The Lady Eve was loosely based on a nineteen page story Paramount owned entitled "Two Bad Hats." Sturges completely reworked it into a script of his own and insisted on casting Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, and Charles Coburn in the lead roles. The studio wanted Brian Aherne for the Charles Pike role and Madeleine Carroll or Paulette Goddard for the part of Jean but Sturges, a hot property after the unexpected success of The Great McGinty (1940), held firm and got his way. In many ways, The Lady Eve was a complete departure from Sturges' first two films (The Great McGinty & Christmas in July, both 1940) which dealt with middle class characters and concerns. For one thing, it took place in an upper-class world of luxury liner staterooms, sprawling estates, and nouveau riche millionaires. Paramount also gave Sturges his biggest budget yet, allowing him to hire Edith Head to design twenty-five gowns for Stanwyck and fourteen changes of costume for Fonda.

According to the biography, Madcap: The Life of Preston Sturges by Donald Spoto, "Sturges, who had directed Christmas in July wearing a straw boater and carrying a bamboo cane, invariably paraded on this set with a colorful beret or a felt cap with a feather protruding, a white cashmere scarf blowing gaily round his neck and a print shirt in loud hues...the reason for the peculiar outfits, he told visitors, was that they facilitated crew members' finding him amid the crowds of actors, technicians, and the public." Despite Sturges' extroverted behavior and outward confidence, the director had some insecurities about his direction of The Lady Eve. In his autobiography, he wrote, "I happen to love pratfalls, but as almost everything I like, other people dislike, and vice versa, my dearest friends and severest critics urged me to cut the pratfalls down from five to three. But it was actually the enormous risks I took with my pictures, skating right up to the edge of nonacceptance, that paid off so handsomely. There are certain things that will convulse an audience, when it has been softened up by what has occurred previously, that seem very unfunny in cold print. Directing and acting have a lot to do with it, too. I had my fingers crossed when Henry Fonda went over the sofa. I held my left ear when he tore down the curtains and I held everything when the roast beef hit him. But it paid off. Audiences, including the critics, surrendered to the fun, and the picture made a lot of money for the studio. Barbara Stanwyck had an instinct so sure that she needed almost no direction; she was a devastating Lady Eve."

For Stanwyck, The Lady Eve marked a real turning point in her career. Audiences that had grown used to seeing her play tough, take-charge working girls, self-sacrificing mothers or hard-bitten prostitutes were dazzled by her stylish, sophisticated appearance in Sturges' film. Here she radiated sex appeal in her scenes with Fonda, whether she was throwing out a sleek leg to trip him or nibble provocatively on his ear. Stanwyck, in an interview about Sturges for the New York Times said, "He'd ask us how we liked the lines. If we didn't, we'd say so, and he'd say the scriptwriter was fifty kinds of an imbecile - and change them. But, you see, he wrote the thing himself." In the biography, Stanwyck, author Axel Madsen wrote that the actress compared Sturges' set to "a 'carnival.' In Fonda, she met her match. He, too, always knew his lines and was affectionately called 'One-Take Fonda.' After The Lady Eve, he called Barbara his favorite leading lady...The set was so ebullient that instead of going to their trailers between setups, the players relaxed in canvas chairs with their sparkling director, listening to his fascinating stories or going over their lines with him. To get into mood for Barbara's bedroom scene, Sturges wore a bathrobe."

Considering the risque nature of some of the scenes in The Lady Eve, it's surprising that the censors didn't give Sturges any trouble over the film, particularly in regards to the love scenes. There were at least eight of them and one intimate sequence, shot in tight close-up, lasted almost five minutes with Stanwyck caressing Fonda's ear lobes, cheeks, neck, and shoulder while he tried to contain his obvious excitement. But audiences and critics alike delighted in it and the film went on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Writing (Unfortunately, it lost to Here Comes Mr. Jordan). Stanwyck and Fonda proved to be such a dynamic screen couple that they were cast together again in You Belong to Me (1941), a minor romantic comedy by Wesley Ruggles that could have used Sturges' magic touch. As for Paramount Studios, they tried to repeat the success of The Lady Eve with a remake of it in 1956 entitled The Birds and the Bees starring George Gobel, Mitzi Gaynor, and David Niven. It was a box office disappointment but considering the brilliance of the original, what did they expect?

Producer: Paul Jones
Director: Preston Sturges
Screenplay: Monckton Hoffe (story), Preston Sturges
Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegte
Cinematography: Victor Milner
Costume Design: Edith Head
Film Editing: Stuart Gilmore
Original Music: Sigmund Krumgold
Principal Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Jean Harrington/Lady Eve Sidwich), Henry Fonda (Charles Pike), Charles Coburn ("Colonel" Harrington), Eugene Pallette (Mr. Pike), William Demarest (Muggsy Ambrose Murgatroyd), Eric Blore (Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith).
BW-94m. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

The Lady Eve

The crown jewel in Preston Sturges' career as writer-director, The Lady Eve (1941) is one of those rare comedies that manages to be genuinely sexy, funny, and romantic, all at the same time. It's inconceivable that Hollywood could make a film this witty now but the high quality of the writing, the flawless direction and the impeccable performances of the ensemble cast should serve as inspiration for any filmmaker who wants to make a great romantic comedy. Sturges' film opens on a cruise ship where we are introduced to 'Colonel' Harry Harrington (Charles Coburn) and his daughter Jean (Barbara Stanwyck), two cardsharps who make their living fleecing the rich. Once Jean learns that Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), the son of a wealthy brewer, is on board, she attempts to lure him into her 'trap.' The path to riches, however, is full of unexpected detours. The Lady Eve was loosely based on a nineteen page story Paramount owned entitled "Two Bad Hats." Sturges completely reworked it into a script of his own and insisted on casting Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, and Charles Coburn in the lead roles. The studio wanted Brian Aherne for the Charles Pike role and Madeleine Carroll or Paulette Goddard for the part of Jean but Sturges, a hot property after the unexpected success of The Great McGinty (1940), held firm and got his way. In many ways, The Lady Eve was a complete departure from Sturges' first two films (The Great McGinty & Christmas in July, both 1940) which dealt with middle class characters and concerns. For one thing, it took place in an upper-class world of luxury liner staterooms, sprawling estates, and nouveau riche millionaires. Paramount also gave Sturges his biggest budget yet, allowing him to hire Edith Head to design twenty-five gowns for Stanwyck and fourteen changes of costume for Fonda. According to the biography, Madcap: The Life of Preston Sturges by Donald Spoto, "Sturges, who had directed Christmas in July wearing a straw boater and carrying a bamboo cane, invariably paraded on this set with a colorful beret or a felt cap with a feather protruding, a white cashmere scarf blowing gaily round his neck and a print shirt in loud hues...the reason for the peculiar outfits, he told visitors, was that they facilitated crew members' finding him amid the crowds of actors, technicians, and the public." Despite Sturges' extroverted behavior and outward confidence, the director had some insecurities about his direction of The Lady Eve. In his autobiography, he wrote, "I happen to love pratfalls, but as almost everything I like, other people dislike, and vice versa, my dearest friends and severest critics urged me to cut the pratfalls down from five to three. But it was actually the enormous risks I took with my pictures, skating right up to the edge of nonacceptance, that paid off so handsomely. There are certain things that will convulse an audience, when it has been softened up by what has occurred previously, that seem very unfunny in cold print. Directing and acting have a lot to do with it, too. I had my fingers crossed when Henry Fonda went over the sofa. I held my left ear when he tore down the curtains and I held everything when the roast beef hit him. But it paid off. Audiences, including the critics, surrendered to the fun, and the picture made a lot of money for the studio. Barbara Stanwyck had an instinct so sure that she needed almost no direction; she was a devastating Lady Eve." For Stanwyck, The Lady Eve marked a real turning point in her career. Audiences that had grown used to seeing her play tough, take-charge working girls, self-sacrificing mothers or hard-bitten prostitutes were dazzled by her stylish, sophisticated appearance in Sturges' film. Here she radiated sex appeal in her scenes with Fonda, whether she was throwing out a sleek leg to trip him or nibble provocatively on his ear. Stanwyck, in an interview about Sturges for the New York Times said, "He'd ask us how we liked the lines. If we didn't, we'd say so, and he'd say the scriptwriter was fifty kinds of an imbecile - and change them. But, you see, he wrote the thing himself." In the biography, Stanwyck, author Axel Madsen wrote that the actress compared Sturges' set to "a 'carnival.' In Fonda, she met her match. He, too, always knew his lines and was affectionately called 'One-Take Fonda.' After The Lady Eve, he called Barbara his favorite leading lady...The set was so ebullient that instead of going to their trailers between setups, the players relaxed in canvas chairs with their sparkling director, listening to his fascinating stories or going over their lines with him. To get into mood for Barbara's bedroom scene, Sturges wore a bathrobe." Considering the risque nature of some of the scenes in The Lady Eve, it's surprising that the censors didn't give Sturges any trouble over the film, particularly in regards to the love scenes. There were at least eight of them and one intimate sequence, shot in tight close-up, lasted almost five minutes with Stanwyck caressing Fonda's ear lobes, cheeks, neck, and shoulder while he tried to contain his obvious excitement. But audiences and critics alike delighted in it and the film went on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Writing (Unfortunately, it lost to Here Comes Mr. Jordan). Stanwyck and Fonda proved to be such a dynamic screen couple that they were cast together again in You Belong to Me (1941), a minor romantic comedy by Wesley Ruggles that could have used Sturges' magic touch. As for Paramount Studios, they tried to repeat the success of The Lady Eve with a remake of it in 1956 entitled The Birds and the Bees starring George Gobel, Mitzi Gaynor, and David Niven. It was a box office disappointment but considering the brilliance of the original, what did they expect? Producer: Paul Jones Director: Preston Sturges Screenplay: Monckton Hoffe (story), Preston Sturges Art Direction: Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegte Cinematography: Victor Milner Costume Design: Edith Head Film Editing: Stuart Gilmore Original Music: Sigmund Krumgold Principal Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Jean Harrington/Lady Eve Sidwich), Henry Fonda (Charles Pike), Charles Coburn ("Colonel" Harrington), Eugene Pallette (Mr. Pike), William Demarest (Muggsy Ambrose Murgatroyd), Eric Blore (Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith). BW-94m. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Critics' Corner - The Lady Eve


The Lady Eve grossed $115,700 in its first three weeks, a high figure for the period. It ended up one of the top 20 films at the box office for its year.

"With The Lady Eve, Preston Sturges is indisputably established as one of the top one or two writers and directors of comedy working in Hollywood today. A more charming or distinguished gem of nonsense has not occurred since It Happened One Night [1934]. Superlatives like that are dangerous, but superlatives like The Lady Eve are much too rare for the careful weighting of words. And much too precious a boon in these grim and mirthless times." -- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times.

"Barbara Stanwyck, who always struck me as a wooden portrayer of rather lugubrious roles, is enchanting. In a series of stunning get-ups, she is alluring as well as artful in performing the key role of the show. Fonda, as the rich sucker who is made a fool of after making a fool of himself, has a far easier job of make-believe, but he is splendid in any case." -- Howard Barnes, New York Herald Tribune.

"The sheer density of Sturges's dialogue is even more staggering today [1964] than it was at the time. He wrote more funny lines for his bit players than contemporary jokesmiths can write for their leads." -- Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice.

"A frivolous masterpiece. Like Bringing Up Baby [1938], The Lady Eve is a mixture of visual and verbal slapstick, and of high artifice and pratfalls...it represents the dizzy high point of Sturges's comedy writing." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies.

"If I were asked to name the single scene in all of romantic comedy that was sexiest and funniest at the same time, I would advise beginning at six seconds past the 20-minute mark in Preston Sturges's "The Lady Eve,'' and watching as Barbara Stanwyck toys with Henry Fonda's hair in an unbroken shot that lasts three minutes and 51 seconds." -- Robert Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.

"Sturges takes standard screwball-comedy material and turns it into a zany classic. Film has an irresistible blend of quirky characters, snappy dialogue, slapstick, and sex. Fonda will surprise you with his skillful pratfalls. Stanwyck is so personable and vivacious that you feel that all the men whose money she stole got their money's worth..." - Danny Peary, Guide For the Film Fanatic.

"If The Lady Eve is his [Sturges'] best film, it is also the most conventional - the story is Hawksian in the pugnacity of its sexual conflict - and the one least troubled by background characters, delightful but foolish coincidence, and those sudden lurches in a new direction that suggest a magician losing control of his assistants." - David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.

"A beguilingly ribald sex comedy, spattered with characteristic Sturges slapstick (Fonda can hardly move without courting disaster) and speech patterns ("Let us be crooked, but never common," urges [Charles] Coburn's conman). Fonda and Stanwyck are superbly paired...not just funny, but surprisingly moving, given the tender romantic warmth of the early shipboard scenes..." - Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide.

AWARDS & HONORS

The Lady Eve was honored as Best Picture of the month by the trade paper the Hollywood Reporter. They also honored Preston Sturges for his directing and writing and Barbara Stanwyck for her performance.

Monckton Hoffe received an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Story. He lost to Harry Segal for Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Stanwyck was not nominated for Best Actress for The Lady Eve but for another 1941 comedy, Ball of Fire.

The Lady Eve was voted onto the National Film Registry in 1994.

In The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards (St. Martin's Paperbacks: 1996), Michael Gebert named Stanwyck Best Actress of 1941 for her performance in The Lady Eve.

Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

Critics' Corner - The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve grossed $115,700 in its first three weeks, a high figure for the period. It ended up one of the top 20 films at the box office for its year. "With The Lady Eve, Preston Sturges is indisputably established as one of the top one or two writers and directors of comedy working in Hollywood today. A more charming or distinguished gem of nonsense has not occurred since It Happened One Night [1934]. Superlatives like that are dangerous, but superlatives like The Lady Eve are much too rare for the careful weighting of words. And much too precious a boon in these grim and mirthless times." -- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times. "Barbara Stanwyck, who always struck me as a wooden portrayer of rather lugubrious roles, is enchanting. In a series of stunning get-ups, she is alluring as well as artful in performing the key role of the show. Fonda, as the rich sucker who is made a fool of after making a fool of himself, has a far easier job of make-believe, but he is splendid in any case." -- Howard Barnes, New York Herald Tribune. "The sheer density of Sturges's dialogue is even more staggering today [1964] than it was at the time. He wrote more funny lines for his bit players than contemporary jokesmiths can write for their leads." -- Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice. "A frivolous masterpiece. Like Bringing Up Baby [1938], The Lady Eve is a mixture of visual and verbal slapstick, and of high artifice and pratfalls...it represents the dizzy high point of Sturges's comedy writing." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies. "If I were asked to name the single scene in all of romantic comedy that was sexiest and funniest at the same time, I would advise beginning at six seconds past the 20-minute mark in Preston Sturges's "The Lady Eve,'' and watching as Barbara Stanwyck toys with Henry Fonda's hair in an unbroken shot that lasts three minutes and 51 seconds." -- Robert Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times. "Sturges takes standard screwball-comedy material and turns it into a zany classic. Film has an irresistible blend of quirky characters, snappy dialogue, slapstick, and sex. Fonda will surprise you with his skillful pratfalls. Stanwyck is so personable and vivacious that you feel that all the men whose money she stole got their money's worth..." - Danny Peary, Guide For the Film Fanatic. "If The Lady Eve is his [Sturges'] best film, it is also the most conventional - the story is Hawksian in the pugnacity of its sexual conflict - and the one least troubled by background characters, delightful but foolish coincidence, and those sudden lurches in a new direction that suggest a magician losing control of his assistants." - David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. "A beguilingly ribald sex comedy, spattered with characteristic Sturges slapstick (Fonda can hardly move without courting disaster) and speech patterns ("Let us be crooked, but never common," urges [Charles] Coburn's conman). Fonda and Stanwyck are superbly paired...not just funny, but surprisingly moving, given the tender romantic warmth of the early shipboard scenes..." - Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide. AWARDS & HONORS The Lady Eve was honored as Best Picture of the month by the trade paper the Hollywood Reporter. They also honored Preston Sturges for his directing and writing and Barbara Stanwyck for her performance. Monckton Hoffe received an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Story. He lost to Harry Segal for Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Stanwyck was not nominated for Best Actress for The Lady Eve but for another 1941 comedy, Ball of Fire. The Lady Eve was voted onto the National Film Registry in 1994. In The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards (St. Martin's Paperbacks: 1996), Michael Gebert named Stanwyck Best Actress of 1941 for her performance in The Lady Eve. Compiled by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford

Quotes

You ought to put handles on that skull. Maybe you could grow geraniums in it.
- Charles Pike
You're certainly a funny girl for anybody to meet who's just been up the Amazon for a year.
- Charles Pike
Good thing you weren't up there two years.
- Jane Harrington
You see Hopsi, you don't know very much about girls. The best ones aren't as good as you think they are and the bad ones aren't as bad. Not nearly as bad.
- Jane Harrington
What I am trying to say is: I'm not a poet, I'm an ophiologist.
- Charles Pike
You know Charles?
- Jane Harrington
Oh, is he the tall backwards boy always toying with toads and things? Yes, I think I have seen him skulking about.
- Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith
He's not backwards. He's a scientist.
- Jane Harrington
Oh is that what it is? I knew he was, mm... peculiar.
- Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith

Trivia

At the beginning Henry Fonda makes references to the help of a "Professor Marsdit". Raymond B. Ditmars of the AMNH at the time was the best-known reptile expert in the country, the kind of popularizer that Carl Sagan later became.

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1994.

Notes

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.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1974

Released in United States 1982

Released in United States June 1990

Released in United States May 2001

Released in United States October 2, 1989

Released in United States on Video July 12, 1990

Released in United States Spring March 21, 1941

Re-released in United States on Video June 30, 1993

Shown at Cannes International Film Festival (Retrospective) may 9-20, 2001.

Released in United States 1974 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Preston Sturges Movie Marathon) March 28 - April 9, 1974)

Released in United States 1982 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition ("Marathon of Mirth": Comedy Maratho) March 16 - April 1, 1982.)

Released in United States Spring March 21, 1941

Shown at Sidney Film Festival June 8-22, 1990.

Shown at Vancouver International Film Festival October 2, 1989.

Selected in 1994 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Released in United States May 2001 (Shown at Cannes International Film Festival (Retrospective) may 9-20, 2001.)

Released in United States June 1990 (Shown at Sidney Film Festival June 8-22, 1990.)

Re-released in United States on Video June 30, 1993

Released in United States on Video July 12, 1990

Released in United States October 2, 1989 (Shown at Vancouver International Film Festival October 2, 1989.)