As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

The Lady Eve

Posted by Hedwig on April 13, 2008

It’s crazy how quickly you adapt to insane prize levels. The film museum in Oslo (which I actually haven’t visited yet, but I will on Tuesday) has an amazing DVD selection, but after seeing so many great DVDs (Gun Crazy, The Killers, Touch of Evil) that cost between 170 and 300 kroner, the 100 kroner they asked for The Lady Eve sounded like a bargain. Of course, that’s still more than 13 euro, or about 20 dollars.

Anyway, The Lady Eve was worth it. I’ve been on kind of a screwball kick lately, and even if I don’t unequivocally love every single one, they all make me think one thing: why don’t they make’ em like this any more? Movies with strong characters that talk up a storm and may act silly, but are clearly intelligent and educated, movies with humor that may often come from pratfalls or sexual innuendo, but that’s never crass or easy, movies, also, that never, ever underestimate the audience’s intelligence for a second.

Barbara Stanwyck is simply amazing. In the scene where she first tries to seduce poor Henry Fonda, she isn’t the prettiest girl in the room, and might not even be the sexiest in an objective sense, but she’s the most cunning and ruthless one, and she never doubts for a second that she’s going to take the prize to her cabin.

Why she falls for this particular poor sap, with his snake obsession and clumsiness, isn’t explained, but it doesn’t really need to be. She decides she wants him, and that means she’ll get him. Even if she has to go through an extremely convoluted and not quite reasonable series of seductions and deceptions.

Is it believable? Of course not. Is it fun to watch? Absolutely. From the maneuvers deployed by  Stanwyck to entrap Fonda first as herself (including the admission that her ideal husband is a short guy with a lot of money), and then as the sophisticated British “Lady Eve”, who turns out, on her wedding night, to have more than one skeleton in her closet, to, yes, the many pratfalls Fonda makes. Even if it all doesn’t make a lot of sense, it’s a delight to watch.

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One Response to “The Lady Eve”

  1. Kaj said

    This is a Preston Sturges film, right? I strongly recommend his Sullivan’s Travels, even though I’m not sure it’s technically screwball. It is, however, an absolute gas about a filmmaker of escapist flicks who wants to make a serious movie for ‘the real people’, the poor working man. In order to know his subject, he poses as a hobo to learn about Life. Oh, and the movie he wants to make is called O Brother, Where Art Thou? 😉

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