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Marc Eliot's Art of Film | The Lady Eve


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How Women Were Portrayed by the Hollywood Studios


Fri, Sep 24 | 6:30 PM

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Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve (1941). Sturges made only thirteen films in a career that shone brightly but briefly during Hollywood’s golden age. He made ten great films for Paramount, including The Lady Eve, then left to sign with the highly idiosyncratic Howard Hughes. The move proved disastrous, and Preston never again achieved the greatness of what are known as the “Big Seven” pictures he wrote and directed during his prime. 

The Lady Eve, Sturges’ congested screwball comedy the New York Times called the “Best Picture of the Year,” is his clever, cynical take on womanhood (If Eve doesn’t give it away, the snakes crawling around the film surely will). Barbara Stanwyck stars and plays against type as Jean (we saw Stanwyck recently at the Art of Film screening of Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity), the scheming grafter who sets her sights on the innocent Charles, a naïve millionaire during a leisurely voyage at sea.

Thus begins a rondo of shifting identities (hence the womanhood) as Jean becomes The Lady Eve, and Fonda falls in love with her all over again. The best line in the film is also the most profound, as the greatest character actor of them all, William Demarest, a Sturges favorite, insists to Fonda that “They’re the same dame!” One of the funniest films ever made, and a clever meditation on the war between the sexes, that is so hilarious it will make you weep (with joy, I trust). Rarely seen, this is a chance to view one of Hollywood’s true hidden gems. The Lady Eve was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Tickets - CLICK HERE

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