The favorite film:
The Lady Eve, a 1941 romantic comedy directed by Preston Sturges.
Charlie Pike, the adventuring heir to a beer fortune, boards a boat after an Amazon expedition. Once aboard, he meets Jean Harrington and her father. The Harringtons are cardsharp con artists, and Charlie may be their next target… until Jean finds herself falling for him.
Barbara Stanwyck as Jean Harrington
Henry Fonda as Charlie Pike
Charles Coburn as Colonel Harrington
Eugene Pallette as Mr. Pike
William Demarest as Muggsy
Eric Blore as Pearly
- Director Preston Sturges also wrote the film, from a story by Monckton Hoffe.
- The story’s title, “Two Bad Hats,” was also the working title for the film.
- Joel McCrea, Fred MacMurray, Madeleine Carroll, and Paulette Goddard were all considered for the leading roles.
- According to TCM’s introduction to the film, Preston Sturges promised Stanwyck another film after she was hospitalized with an eye infection and had to drop out of a project. She thought he was just being polite, but he came through with The Lady Eve!
- The opening scene in the “jungle” was shot at Baldwin Lake in California.
- The film was remade as The Birds and the Bees in 1956. Mitzi Gaynor, George Gobel, and David Niven starred.
- In his review of The Lady Eve, Bosley Crowther gave high praise to the writer/director: “Preston Sturges is definitely and distinctly the most refreshing new force to hit the American motion pictures in the past five years. […] A more charming or distinguished gem of nonsense has not occurred since It Happened One Night.”
- The film was nominated for one Oscar, for Best Writing (Original Story). Two of its competitors were also Stanwyck films: Ball of Fire and Meet John Doe! Ultimately, Here Comes Mr. Jordan took home the award.
- That animated opening with the snake
- Mac: “And be careful of the dames! You’ve not dodged any of them for a long time, either!”
Charlie: “You know me, Mac. Nothing but reptiles!”
- Charlie’s riveting reading material: a book called Are Snakes Necessary?
- Jean spying on Charlie through her mirror and narrating his interactions with other women
- Stanwyck and Fonda have such great chemistry! They sizzle even when he’s simply helping her put on a shoe.
- Jean: “Hopsy Popsy!”
- Jean: “Why, Hopsy! You oughta be kept in a cage!”
- Jean and Harry pointing out the warning of professional gamblers to Charlie, acting like he could be a professional gambler… when really, they’re professional gamblers!
- Jean: “I was just flirting with you.”
Jean: “You’re not going to faint, are you?”
- Charlie: “You’re certainly a funny girl for anybody to meet who’s just been up the Amazon for a year.”
Jean: “Good thing you weren’t up there for two years.”
- Jean’s exaggerated freak-out about the snake
- Stanwyck is really in top form in this film! She’s a pure delight to watch, and she and Fonda are even more fun together.
- Jean saying she wants to marry a short, rich man so he can look up to her as his ideal
- Jean’s striped hat!
- Charlie: “I’ve known you a long time, in a way.”
- Charlie accidentally ordering scotch and soda for breakfast
- Jean: “I think I’m in love with the poor fish, snakes and all!”
- Jean: “You’ll go straight, too, won’t you Harry?”
Harry: “Straight to where?”
- Charlie nervously confessing his intentions to Harry
- That scene on the windy, moonlit deck! So sweet.
- That heartbreaking break-up scene! Poor Jean!
- Mr. Harrington secretly saving the check — and Jean’s reaction when she finds out
- Eric Blore! Always a fun addition to any film.
- Pearly: “Is he the tall, backward boy who’s always toying with toads and things?”
- Jean: “I’ve been English before. I shall be as English as necessary.”
- Jean: “I need him like the ax needs the turkey.”
- Jean’s new “Lady Eve Sidwich” persona
- Pearly telling Mrs. Pike that Eve came to America on a battleship!
- Jean/Eve’s story of her trip on the “tube” to “Connect-i-cut”
- Charlie tripping over the couch and tearing down the curtains after meeting “Eve”
- Muggsy snooping on “Eve” as he attempts to serve the food
- Pearly’s tall tale of the “secret of the century”
- Jean saying Charlie looks shorter and bonier now that she isn’t in love with him
- Jean: “I’ll probably talk like a cockeyed duchess for the rest of my life.”
- Jean’s daydream about Charlie falling in love with “Eve”
- That road-to-the-wedding montage! (The building of the enormous cake is especially fun.)
- Gerald: “Maybe she’s gonna shoot him!”
Harry: “She’s afraid of guns.”
Gerald: “Maybe she’s gonna push him outta the window!”
- Eve’s story about eloping with the stable boy
- Charlie: “The name of Angus will never cross my lips again.”
- Jean (masquerading as Eve): “I wonder if now would be the time to tell you about… Herman.” (And Vernon, and Cecil, and Hubert, and John…)
- Harry pouring his alcohol on the floor when Jean says she doesn’t want any money from Charlie
- That adorable ending!
- Muggsy: “Positively the same dame.”