Sturges's chic, sly little masterpiece of comic seduction. Fonda, who is the son of a wealthy brewer (Pallette, whose slogan is "Pike's Pale, the Ale That Won for Yale"), is a rather shy and backward young man whose main interest is in snakes. As the film opens, he has just spent a year
with a scientific expedition on the Amazon, looking for undiscovered species of reptiles. He and his bodyguard, Demarest, board a ship in the Atlantic which will take them back to New York. Of course, Fonda, being young, handsome, and the heir to a vast fortune, attracts the attention of virtually
every female on the ship, but he shows no interest in the opposite sex.
Also on board is a team of card sharps, father and daughter Stanwyck and Coburn, and Cooper, posing as their butler. They figure Fonda would make an excellent pigeon, and Stanwyck conspires to gain his trust, which she does. Fonda is quickly smitten with her, and sits down to play some cards with
her and her father. He considers himself to be quite the card player, but is embarrassed when he wins $600 from these nice people. Of course, he's only being set up to lose, but before the cons can reel in their prey, they hit a snag. Stanwyck has genuinely fallen in love with the man, much to the
disgust of her associates.
THE LADY EVE is one of Sturges' best romantic comedies, with just the right blend of satire and slapstick, the laughs coming mostly from his clever, often inspired comedic lines. His direction is flawless, and the cast, from stars to stock players, performs beautifully. Stanwyck, is particular, is
an effortless comedienne. She pitches much of her performance into a kind of hushed, urgent, intimate whisper. When she talks to Fonda, she's constantly toying with him, touching him like a fetish, and she's always in his face, often looking at his lips. Then out snakes a sexy leg--a very sexy
leg--and over he topples. There's an unparalleled moment early on, when she narrates his movements, taking his part and every woman's who attempts to trap him in conversation, while watching the action backwards in her compact mirror. It's a daring, roguish display of her talent; one can't imagine
any comedienne--even Colbert or Russell--bringing it off as she does. Sturges, who began as a contract scriptwriter for Paramount, promised Stanwyck that he would write a great comedy for her some day, and she got it.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Sturges's chic, sly little masterpiece of comic seduction. Fonda, who is the son of a wealthy brewer (Pallette, whose slogan is "Pike's Pale, the Ale That Won for Yale"), is a rather shy and backward young man whose main interest is in snakes. As the film… (more)