Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve
Swindlers Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) and her father (Charles Coburn) are trolling a luxury liner for prey, and hone in on a naïve brewery heir and ophiologist (snake expert) Hopsie Pike (Henry Fonda) fresh from a jungle expedition. Writer Director Preston Sturges made a short burst of fiercely literate comedy films in the 1940s, indulging his penchant for zingy dialogue punctured with slapstick. The Lady Eve is disguised as a classic screwball, but Sturges combines the gaiety of the 1930s romantic comedy heroine with the sinister allure of the film noir predator heroine in Stanwyck's cardsharp. Her malicious joy in twisting Hopsie around her little finger as he falls hopelessly in love with her would have been alarming in a noir, but comedy allows women, even those in ultra-chic Edith Head gowns, to act outrageously, confounding polite society’s norms.
Wednesday, July 25