Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve (1941) on 16mm

Classic Film Night

Barbara Stanwyck is at her femme fatale best in The Lady Eve.

Jean Harrington is a con artist who, along with her card-shark father and their partner in crime, is looking for easy – and rich – prey on a luxury ocean liner.

When she meets Charles (Henry Fonda), the shy heir to a beer fortune who has spent the last six months in the Amazon studying snakes, he looks like an easy mark. But all Jean’s plans to bilk him go awry when they fall head over heals in love. Her father has no such scruples, however, and eventually Charles finds out about her past and dumps her.

Hell hath no fury like a femme fatale scorned, so Jean teams up with another conman and masquerades as the posh “Lady Eve Sidwich”, determined to torment Charles mercilessly in another long con.

Preston Sturges’ rambunctious high stakes tale benefits from the sparkling chemistry between Stanwyck and Fonda, and a script that has inspired countless battle-of-the-sexes comedies.

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