The Lady Eve is perhaps the perfect movie comedy, with a runaway heiress – or, in this case, heir – double identities, barbed wit, inspired pratfalls, and the Sturges collection of supporting characters. One could ask for no more.
Beer scion Henry Fonda would rather spend his time chasing snakes up exotic rivers than running the family business, until he becomes fascinated with con girl Barbara Stanwyck and her crooked pop, Charles Coburn, on an ocean liner. Of course, she falls for Fonda and then loses him when he learns of her occupation. She gets another chance in the guise of visiting royalty and charms everyone at a reception in her honor, including Fonda’s tycoon father Eugene Pallette.
Our favorite line: after Fonda has most of the formal dinner and drinks spilled on his tux and, finally, on his out-of-season dinner jacket, Pallette intones, “Why don’t you put on a bathing suit!” Well, you have to see it.
The New York Times review of The Lady Eve by Bosley Crowther hailed Preston Sturges as, “the most refreshing new force to hit the American motion pictures in the past five years,” and compared him to French director Rene Claire.
Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Story.
USA / Paramount / 94 minutes / 1941
Writers:Preston Sturges, Monckton Hoffe,
Barbara Stanwyck as Jean Harrington
Henry Fonda as Charles Pike
Eugene Pallette as Horace Pike
William Demarest as Muggsy
Melville Cooper as Gerald
Martha O’Driscoll as Martha
Janet Beecher as Janet Pike
Charles Coburn as ‘Colonel’ Harrington
Robert Greig as Burrows
Dora Clement as Gertrude
Luis Alberni as Emile, Pike’s chef
Barry Norton as Passenger on Ship (uncredited)
Bert Stevens as Ship’s Officer (uncredited)
Barbara Pepper as Lady Wrestler Type on Ship (uncredited)
Arthur Hoyt as Lawyer at Phone in Pike’s Office (uncredited)
Cyril Ring as Husband on Ship (uncredited)
Eddie Hall as Chauffeur (uncredited)
Al Bridge as First Steward (uncredited)
Robert Warwick as Passenger on Ship (uncredited)
Franklyn Farnum as Tailor in Montage (uncredited)
Nell Craig as Ship Passenger at Railing (uncredited)
Jimmy Conlin as Third Steward (uncredited)
Robert Dudley as Husband on Ship (uncredited)
Sam Ash as Husband on Ship (uncredited)
Harold Miller as Diner on Ship (uncredited)
Eric Blore as Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith
Bobby Barber as Ship’s Waiter with Toupee (uncredited)
Arthur Stuart Hull as Party Guest (uncredited)
Wilda Bennett as Party Guest (uncredited)
Evelyn Beresford as Party Guest (uncredited)
Georgie Cooper as Party Guest (uncredited)
Kenneth Gibson as Party Guest (uncredited)
Alfred Hall as Party Guest (uncredited)
Bertram Marburgh as Party Guest (uncredited)
George Melford as Party Guest (uncredited)
Gayne Whitman as Party Guest (uncredited)
Abdullah Abbas as Man with Potted Palm (uncredited)
Norman Ainsley as Sir Alfred’s Servant (uncredited)
Mary Akin as Passenger on Ship (uncredited)
Jan Buckingham as Passenger on Ship (uncredited)
Madge Crane as Passenger on Ship (uncredited)
Mitchell Ingraham as Passenger on Ship (uncredited)
Harry A. Bailey as Lawyer (uncredited)
Jack W. Johnston as Lawyer (uncredited)
Julius Tannen as Lawyer (uncredited)
Ambrose Barker as Mac (uncredited)
Wilson Benge as First Butler at Party (uncredited)
Ken Carpenter as Himself – Trailer Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Eva Dennison as Mother on Ship (uncredited)
Helen Dickson as Mother on Ship (uncredited)
Betty Farrington as Mother on Ship (uncredited)
Almeda Fowler as Mother on Ship (uncredited)
Harry Depp as Man with Glasses on Ship (uncredited)
Pauline Drake as Social Secretary (uncredited)
John Hartley as Young Man on Ship (uncredited)
Sheldon Jett as Sunbather on Ship (uncredited)
Richard Kipling as Father on Ship (uncredited)
Jack Richardson as Father of Girl on Ship (uncredited)
Wanda McKay as Daughter on Ship (uncredited)
Ella Neal as Daughter on Ship (uncredited)
Torben Meyer as Mr. Clink – Purser (uncredited)
Esther Michelson as Wife on Ship (uncredited)
Bert Moorhouse as Diner on Ship (uncredited)
Suzanne Ridgeway as Diner on Ship (uncredited)
Ronald R. Rondell as Diner on Ship (uncredited)
Frank Moran as Bartender at Pike’s Party (uncredited)
Joseph North as Second Butler at Party (uncredited)
Jean Phillips as Sweetie (uncredited)
Victor Potel as Second Steward (uncredited)
Frances Raymond as Old Lady on Ship (uncredited)
Harry Rosenthal as Piano Tuner (uncredited)
Reginald Sheffield as Professor Jones (uncredited)
Larry Steers as Jeweler (uncredited)
Dorothy Vernon as One of Pike’s Cooks (uncredited)
Wally Walker as Sparky (uncredited)
Pat West as Ship’s Bartender (uncredited)
Bess Flowers as Party Guest
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