This is how big a nerd I am: when I hear “Summer,” I think “Summer Under the Stars” – the cable film festival hosted by Turner Classic Movies channel. Every day in the Summer months, TCM features one movie star and shows only movies starring that person. Like, all Bob Hope movies on Monday, all Cary Grant Movies on Tuesday, all Bette Davis movies on Wednesday…you get the idea.
Even though it hasn’t started yet, summer has been full-swing in El Paso, so I’m already in the mood. So, today, I’m going to feature a movie being shown on TCM this week, so if you do get TCM, you’ll have the chance to watch or DVR it. If not, it’s on Netflix, too :)
Today’s movie is The Lady Eve, from 1941, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, and Charles Coburn. It’s a goofy romantic comedy with a storyline that could only exist in a 1941 romantic comedy, but that makes it even more fun. :)
Jean (Barbara Stanwyck) is the con artist daughter of con artist “Colonel” Harrington (Charles Coburn). They travel back and forth across the Atlantic on cruise ships, bilking bored millionaires out of thousands of dollars by playing (and cheating) at card games. They spend as much as they earn, so they’re always on the lookout for their next mark.
Enter Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) is the geeky son of a major American brewer mogul. Charles is the heir to a multi-million dollar estate and loves science, particularly reptiles. He’s had his nose stuck in a snake book since puberty, so he’s a prime sucker for Jean’s particular style of swindle.
But then, the hitch. While they’re on this cruise, Jean and Charles fall in love, really in love, the first time for either of them. Jean wants to confess her criminal past to Charles, but her father begs her to wait until the boat has landed, so they won’t be arrested – again. Unfortunately, Charles finds out on his own and assumes the love affair has been part of a bigger con. He walks out on Jean, breaking her heart. Jean determines to find a way to hurt him in revenge.
Months later, Jean finds out an old con friend of hers is a neighbor of the Pikes, and goes to visit. Charles is invited to a party to meet his neighbor’s “niece” visiting from England, Lady Eve Sedwich. Of course, it’s really Jean, pretending to be the Lady Eve.
Charles is so naïve that he actually falls for the charade, insisting that Eve must just bear an uncanny resemblance to Jean. As Charles falls quickly in love with “Eve", Jean sees her chance to break his heart in return, but is also starting to fall in love with him again. Which will win out – revenge or romance?
This really is a hilarious movie directed by Preston Sturges, one of the greatest classic comedy directors. I love Henry Fonda (father of Jane Fonda) and he’s just adorable in this movie. Barbara Standwyck played a great bad-girl-that’s-not-really-bad in a lot of her movies, and this is no exception. She’s charming and pretty but has an edge that makes her walking on the other side of the law believable. The supporting cast is also fantastic, made up of some of the best comedic actors of the day. It drags a little at the end – there are quite a few loose ends to tie up - but it’s a fun ride just the same.
“The Lady Eve” will be on Thursday, at 2:45 PM CST on TCM. If you don’t get TCM, it’s also on Netflix Instant. And by the way, can I just say how exciting it is that Netflix Instant is finally pulling some great old movies into their lineup? Yet another reason I’m returning to my favorites – movies made before my parents were born. :)
I was going to look up if any of those were on Netflix, because I’m pretty sure they are, but Netflix just changed their search engine to be nearly unusable, so I can’t find them to copy and paste the links for you as I would like. I hope you do try and look them up, though. They are winners.