Friday, March 4, 2011

The Lady Eve (1941)

“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.”

            The Lady Eve is a fun story played out by an excellent cast. It is a silly comedy film from 1941. Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda play the two lead characters Jean and Charles who happen to meet and fall in love on a ship back to the States.

            Jean and her father Colonel Harrington are on a ship heading back to the States from South America. Also on board is the wealthy Charles Pike who is returning to America after a yearlong trip studying snakes in the Amazon. All the girls on the ship do everything they can to gain Charles’ attention even going so far as to order Pike Ale the company his father owns. Jean knows how to get his attention without sucking up and trips him which breaks her heal. Charles apologizes and walks her back to his room. Jean sees that he has a snake and screams bloody murder all the way back to her room. Charles follows and comforts her. They talk and fall in love. The next day Charles wants to marry Jean but unfortunately through his protector he finds out Jean and her father make their money on being card sharks and con artists before she can tell him the truth. Feeling betrayed Charles breaks the engagement off and Jean is left feeling very sad.
             Jean and the Colonel meet up with one of their acquaintances who has been coning around a wealthy area of Connecticut as an English gentleman named Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith. He just so happens to be doing his dirty work in the area where Charles and his family live and he knows the Pikes well. Jean decides to face Charles again so she could tease him and toy with his feelings. At the Pike’s house for a party, she fools everyone into thinking she is Lady Eve Sidwich, she even manages to fool Charles.
            I very much enjoyed seeing Barbara Stanwyck playing a comedic role. I liked her character of Jean she was a tough lady who knew how to work things her way. My favorite scene of the whole film was when Jean was looking behind her in her mirror and narrating with her made up stories of the ladies who were trying to attract Charles’ attention. The dialogue is really funny and Stanwyck recites the lines flawlessly as if she is making the stories up herself. The whole time I could not get over Stanwyck’s voice. I was captivated by it I just wanted hear her talk the whole time especially when she puts on the British accent.
            Henry Fonda was very good as the blundering, not very intelligent Charles Pike. He had such a sophisticated look that seeing him play this blundering, messy man made his character so much fun to watch. At the Pike party where Charles cannot shake off the feeling that he has seen Eve somewhere before, he falls or has things dumped on him. The falling over things or things being dropped on Fonda never got old they were just funny the guy just had no luck.
            One of the great character actors of the ‘30s and ‘40s Eric Blore plays Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith. Whenever I see his name in credits I know his character is going to be this kind of annoying but funny and dry sort of character who gets his feathers ruffled a bit by the main characters. Blore perfectly played a con artist.
            The Lady Eve is a fun film to watch. Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda acted very well together. The plot of the story is very good and something a bit different for a comedy. There is one or two parts that drag but the rest is very fun and enjoyable to watch.

The Lady Eve is a comedy that I wish writers could make today. There was no foul language or obvious sexual talk which to me does not make a movie funny. This type of film is what is still funny almost seventy years later. The only problem is I feel no one could be good enough to direct a film like this or even act out the parts.