63. “The Lady Eve”, Preston Sturges (1941)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

The Lady Eve

The Lady Eve

dir. Preston Sturges scr. Preston Sturges cin. Victor Milner with Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, and William Demarest

In 100 words: Among all the movies I have seen, nothing is as sexy as watching Barbara Stanwyck caressing Henry Fonda’s hair with her face smooshed against his. Sturges’ screwball comedy is an exemplar of the genre—a sparkling script full of brilliant and hilarious one-liners, a convoluted plot that never loses the threads of the story, impeccable edits, smart framing, and two movie stars giving the best performances of their careers. The movie is refreshingly frisky, sensual, smart, and ironic—the dapper Fonda constantly falling down is one example—that makes each scene magical. Romance has never felt this sweet, this hot.

Other Movies for Context: Oh my gosh, it’s just too good to be true. The Lady Eve is the only film I’ve seen from Preston Sturges, and I aim to correct that soon. If this is Barbra Stanwyck’s best performance, her work in Double Indemnity in 1945 laid out the framework for the dangerous icy blondes of noir, and is as dangerously sexy as her character here.