The Lady Eve

Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda
Written and directed by Preston Sturges
USA 1941
94 minutes
Our last movie was Mustang- the funny, moving and uplifting tale of five Turkish sisters and their rebellion against a despotic uncle who imprisons them - intending to marry them off. The Lady Eve is a very different tale of men and women - one in which a woman has the upper hand and a man is seemingly the hapless victim.

Preston Sturges, who wrote and directed this film, is perhaps the finest exponent of the 'Screwball Comedy' - a genre that flourished in Hollywood in the 30s and 40s and characteristically features a battle of the sexes in which the conventional roles are reversed. Notable examples include His Girl Friday, My Man Godfrey, Bringing Up Baby and The Palm Beach Story.

In The Lady Eve Barbara Stanwyck (who we saw recently as the deadly femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity) is a beautiful con artist working alongside her father to cheat wealthy men out of their money.

When she falls for one of her victims - the naive millionaire Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) and is subsequently unmasked things get complicated.  Scorned by him she is forced to pose as a titled lady in order to get him back - or is it get back at him?

Featuring razor-sharp dialogue, immaculately timed physical comedy and an attitude to sex and relationships that is way ahead of its time The Lady Eve is sophisticated comedy of the highest order from a director at the peak of his powers. It features many of Sturges' trademark touches and shows why he is held in the highest regard by such diverse talents as Woody Allen, The Coen Brothers and the writers of The Simpsons.