Written by Michael Clawson
Sturges slows down the dialogue and ups the sensuality for a funny story of romance, revenge, and faked identity. Aboard an ocean liner on his voyage home from the Amazon, wealthy and guileless Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) winds up in the palm of the hand of Barbara Stanwyck’s seductive Jean Harrington, a swindler who unexpectedly falls for her target. But before Jean can confess to Charles the truth about her original intention to play him like a fiddle, he finds out on his own and blows her off, which makes her so mad that she later jumps at a second chance to put on a disguise and cheat him once and for all.
Fonda is quite good as the gullible dupe, and Stanwyck plays the femme fatale with abundant magnetism. In the first half, Sturges facilitates chemistry between them via extended closeups, bringing them inches away from each other’s lips when Charles, say, stumbles over a divan in Jean’s cabin, and she then lays beside him and caresses his ruffled hair. The humor only occasionally reaches hilarity, but there are some pretty funny side characters, such as Charles’ no-nonsense minder, who snoops and sees through Jean’s ruses, and some memorably amusing scenes, such as one involving a surprisingly pesky horse. An inspired bit of editing during a climactic train sequence is also a good laugh.
The Lady Eve Trailer
The Lady Eve is currently available to rent and purchase digitally.