Produced in 1941, when the notion of a writer-director was still antithetical to the studio system, Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve stands as an uncommonly sophisticated piece of filmmaking that unifies his substantial gifts as a writer of blistering wit and a director of elegance and invention. It’s also sexy as hell—not in the mildly suggestive sense, but as brazen as the times would allow. Sturges’ Biblical screwball—in this version, the Eve stand-in conks her Adam in the head with the apple—casts Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda as perfect opposites: Stanwyck plays an aggressive con artist, and Fonda is the sweetly earnest heir to an ale fortune. The two fall in love, but things take a turn for the zany in the second half, when a break-up prompts Stanwyck to reappear in another guise. It’s all deeply romantic and deeply silly, but informed by genuine insight on what it takes for love to resolve the battle of the sexes.
Our Movie Of The Week coverage of The Lady Eve begins on Tuesday with my Keynote on how Sturges’ romance is like a negotiation between two parties who go through hilarious fits in order to agree to terms. On Wednesday, the forum dives into the Sturges touch, the film’s scorching sexuality, and the actors (many of them part of Sturges’ troupe) that bring the material to life. Please join us. We need you like the ax needs the turkey.
Upcoming Movies Of The Week
September 15: Grey Gardens
September 22: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
September 29: McCabe & Mrs. Miller
And coming in October… Horror month. Titles are TBD.