Lady Eve



History of Cinema II                                                                                         

Prof. Amy Herzog

The Lady Eve

This movie starts in the Amazon jungle where a rich biologist returns to the United States with a snake pet. Women aboard the ship know that Charles is rich and try to be noticed by him, including a lady-con artist. Jean is aggressive in her pursue for Charles and is able to seduce him but, she genuinely falls in love with him. When Charles finds out that Jean is a con artist, he treats Jean with disdain and breaks up the relationship. Sometime later, Jean reappears in Charles life as an English woman and decides to torture him before taking his money in revenge because Charles did not believe in her during their first encounter.

The movie is a funny physical comedy even though the situations are very much forced by the director, Preston Sturges, and Charles has to act in a role that puts him borderline retarded. Jean, played by a romantically aggressive Barbara Stanwyck, is the center of the movie charming everyone with her beauty and wit. I liked the pratfalls performed on poor Charles.

Jane seduces Charles twice in a smooth manner where the poor guy never had a chance. I found Jane’s character fascinating and well performed. Jane never stops loving Charles and twice she never gets to consummate her plot to rob him. That part of the story is very credible.

The English uncle and the fake father are very good in their performance. I also liked how subtle the mention of war in Europe is introduced in the dialogues. The movie is well done chronologically and though I find the movie pushed forward too fast in some instances, I liked the editing.

The movie presents the idea that though some persons do bad things, they remain vulnerable and sometimes they cannot control their feelings, as is the case of Jane in this movie.

At the end, the cat keeps playing with the mouse and both end up forever happy.

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4 thoughts on “Lady Eve

  1. The lack of logic and sensibility from Charles along with the forced situations are an ode to the disfunctional relationship, much like your cat-and-mouse reference. On one end Charles’ “clouded” judgement represents the emotionally driven and near-delusional logic of a person involved in this type of relationship. On the other end, the forced situations reflect the couple’s persistent efforts to make the relationship work although it never will.
    Preston Sturges’ effectively uses Jean as a weapon of manipulation and deception, as if sending a warning of a woman’s power. Sturges himself was a victim of his mother’s deception and created a lack of trust in women, although denied by Sturges, is depicted in Lady Eve. Although Charles had no idea Jean was a con-artist until the ship captain told him, Charles tells Jean he knew all along. Charles’ unable to admit he was fooled gives a glimpse in to Sturges’ life as it suggests Sturges’ subconscious.
    I enjoyed the pratfalls as they bring a “Tom and Jerry” feel to the cat-and-mouse game you mentioned, while the underlying fact that once the cat is done playing with the mouse, the cat will eat the mouse, still weighs on the audience.

  2. I agree with you that the movie was very fast paced but I also think that is what gave it its quick wit. The scene that comes to mind is when Charles and Jane were on the train after their wedding and Jane was making her fake confession. The train started off at regular speed when she told Charles about her first lover and we could hear the train chugging along. Then when she mentions her next affair, both Charles and the engine began to steam. As the list of men grew larger, we saw the excitement grow in Charles as the scenes and train began to fly through the screen. The scenes flashed quicker and quicker as the list of men grew and Charles blew his top simultaneously with the whistle of the train. Finally, we knew the relationship was over when the scenes came to a slow down, after they emerged from the tunnel, and we see Charles jumps off the train with his bags in hand.
    I think the quick dialogue and fast scenes is what gives this film its appeal. I mentioned this in another comment, but the scene with Jane narrating the intentions of the women on the ship through her make-up mirror is hilarious but I missed most of her comment because she spoke so fast. That makes me want to see it again to catch everything I missed the first time. I think a really good film is one that you can watch many times and still find something new in it. The pace of this movie is so quick at times that I think I could watch it several times without getting bored. The movies that are easily interpreted and laid out plainly for an audience, do not have longevity. I could see it once, comprehend all that the director wants me to know and forget about it after a couple of weeks. I guess that’s what separates a movie from a classic.

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