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Film Analysis: The Lady Eve

Film Analysis: The Lady Eve

TheLadyEveA Transitional Study Of A Classic Screwball Comedy.

Preston Sturges wrote and directed this classic screwball comedy in 1941 starring Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck.  The film was produced by Paramount Studios. The film revolves around a con woman and a snake expert who meet abroad a luxury-liner.

Henry Fonda plays Charles, a snake expert who had just spent a year in the Amazon region looking for rare snakes with his cynical friend Muggsy. He boards the S.S. Southern Queen bound for New York, and while on the ship, he is surrounded by pretty ladies dying for his affection. Amongst those watching Charles is a group of three cons. While he is at dinner, with all the women are ogling him, Jean gets his attention by sticking out her foot and causing him to trip over. Complaining to Charles that he should watch where he is going, she convinces him to escort her to her room so that she can replace her broken shoe heel. Charles is sexually attracted to Jean, but when he tries to make a pass at her, she pulls away.

Back in the dining room, Charles is introduced to the Colonel, one of the three cons, and they play cards, Charles winning $500 from the Colonel and $100 from Jean. But Charles is being set-up for the next game when the Colonel will come in for the kill. Back at Jean’s cabin, Charles and Jean sit close and something happens she hadn’t planned. She becomes attracted to Charles too. The next morning, Muggsy warns Charles that the Colonel and Jean are cons, but Charles won’t listen to him. Meanwhile, the Colonel is looking forward to fleecing Charles, but Jean doesn’t want any part of it. Jean participates in the card game between Charles and the Colonel, ensuring that the Colonel doesn’t cheat. But while Jean waits for Charles after the game, the Colonel convinces Charles to another game of double-or-nothing, with Charles losing $32,000. Jean, angry with her father, makes the Colonel destroy the check. The next morning, Muggsy proves to Charles the three are con artists. Devastated, Charles shows Jean the evidence, claiming he knew she was a criminal. Jean is determined to get even with Charles. When the ship docked in New York, the Colonel reveals he merely palmed the $32,000 check.

However Jean still wants revenge on Charles. She impersonates an English woman, Lady Eve Sidwich, and introduces herself to Charles. Planning to make Charles to fall in love with her again, she intends to break his heart like he broke hers. When Charles meets Lady Eve Sidwich, he immediately notices her, but is so flustered that he constantly trips and falls over himself. Although Muggsy tries to convince him that she is the same person, Charles reasons that Jean would never come close to his home without at least disguising herself, so he concludes the resemblance is only a coincidence. They soon court and marry each other, and while on their honeymoon, Eve begins to confess her past, naming all of her old boyfriends and lovers. Charles get irritated and jumps off the train.

Jean’s con team urges her to close the deal, indicating that she can make a huge settlement. While Charles’ father and lawyers are on the phone with her pleading to settle quickly, she says she doesn’t want any money at all, just for Charles to tell her that the relationship is over. He refuses, and instead gets on a ship back to the Amazon. On the boat, Jean meets Charles, just as they met before, and they immediately go to his cabin where they confess their love for each other and the fact they are both married. Muggsy leaves the room, saying, “Definitely the same dame…”

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