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The Lady Eve (The Criterion Collection)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A conniving father and daughter meet up with the heir to a brewery fortune-a wealthy but naïve snake enthusiast-and attempt to bamboozle him at a cruise ship card table. Their plan is quickly abandoned when the daughter falls in love with their prey. But when the heir gets wise to her gold-digging ways, she must plot to re-conquer his heart. One of Sturges' most clever and beloved romantic comedies, The Lady Eve balances broad slapstick and sophisticated sexiness with perfect grace.

Additional Features

Criterion's digital transfer, created from a 35mm duplicate negative, is luminous and so sharp you can see the grain in the film. The commentary by film scholar Marian Keane is informed but academic and gets a bit cerebral as she extends her theme of role-playing to the entire film itself, constantly reminding us of the Hollywood machinery just out of frame. Peter Bogdanovich offers a more down-to-earth appreciation in his short video introduction, and James Harvey writes a lovely essay in the accompanying booklet. The disc also features the "Lux Radio Theater" adaptation performed by cast members Barbara Stanwyck and Charles Coburn (Ray Milland takes the Fonda role), Edith Head's costume designs with written comments from her memoirs (in which she describes her doomed efforts to create clothes for the snake!), stills and publicity materials, and the trailer. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • New digital transfer
  • Video introduction by writer-director Peter Bogdanovich
  • Edith Head costume designs
  • Scrapbook of original publicity materials and production stills
  • 1942 broadcast of the Lux Radio Theater adaptation, performed by Barbara Stanwyck & Ray Milland

Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest
  • Directors: Preston Sturges
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: October 16, 2001
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JH9B
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,820 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Lady Eve (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 29, 2001
Format: DVD
The gist of THE LADY EVE is ably summed up by Barbara Stanwyck's character in the first half of the film: "The good girls are never as good as they seem to be, and the bad ones never as bad." In this movie, Barbara plays Jean Harrington, a "bad girl" who is not as bad as she seems to be, who later pretends to be Eve Sidgwick, a "good girl" who isn't as good.
In my opinion, this is the greatest romantic comedy ever made. Other films may be more romantic, others funnier, but not a single one combines both elements so perfectly. Everything about this film sparkles. Preston Sturges, one of the finest screenwriters in the history of cinema, turned out one of his most perfect scripts.. The details, the transitions between scenes, the wit, the lightning pace, the superb oneliners, the cascading dialog, absolutely everything marks this as a Preston Sturges production. The cast is utterly beyond reproach. Absolutely no one in the history of film could have been more perfect in the central role as Barbara Stanwyck. Other men could have played the Henry Fonda part, but he was nonetheless excellent in his role, one of the very few comedic parts he managed in his career. Charles Coburn sparkles as "Handsome" Harry Harrington, just as he excelled in a dozen or so other great films from the thirties, forties, and fifties. Eugene Palette, the finest Friar Tuck there ever was or ever could be, is delightful as Henry Fonda's beleaguered father. William Demarest is a fixture in nearly all of Preston Sturges's films, and while his role is not as large here as in some of the others (like HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO, SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS, or THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK), he nonetheless manages to steal nearly every scene he is in.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on August 3, 2004
Format: DVD
Barbara Stanwyck is at her comedic best in "The Lady Eve," playing a vamp who tries to con a gullible heir, played by Henry Fonda. Her plans hit a snag, though, when she finds herself falling for him, which leads to some madcap fun. Directed and co-written by the peerless Preston Sturges ("Sullivan's Travels"), "The Lady Eve" is among the finest of Hollywood 1940's romantic comedies. The script is quite brilliant (the movie received only one Oscar nomination, for its screenplay, which it lost to "Here Comes Mr. Jordan") and delivers some genuine laughs. In addition, the tinge of bitterness and cynicism that characterizes Sturges' work is here -- this movie isn't a sickly sweet romance. Sturges also manages to create a wacky screen couple and then make them seem believable; a formidable task. Finally, Fonda has never been better; his all-American looks and blank visage are put to perfect use to convey the innocence required for the role. Overall, a highly recommended film.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ginge on November 18, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This is one of the best romantic screwball comedies. Though it failed to really grab me the first time, the second viewing had me laughing. Barbara Stanwyck is perfect. If only she had done more comedies. The best, and the most romantic scenes occur when Barbara is the cardsharp Jean. Pretty hot too, when Henry is putting on Barbara's shoe, and when they discuss their ideal partners. No wonder Henry has said that he's been in love with Barbara since this film. Fluff this may seem to some, but Lady Eve is a well crafted, cleverly written and directed film, intelligently put together by real first class pros. Preston Sturges was one mad-cap talented man who really knew how to write. My favourite script of his, however, is "Remember The Night", a little known film, but what a knockout it is. And as great as Barbara and Hank are together in this film, I believe they were even funnier in that wonderful gem "The Mad Miss Manton(1938)". However, this is truely sophisticated stuff and an essential video to have in any collection.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Hulett VINE VOICE on February 14, 2005
Format: DVD
I recently discovered the NY Times list of "1000 best films ever," and if not for that list I would have never seen "The Lady Eve." As a child of the '70s the names Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda conjure up dramatic images of "The Big Valley" and "The Grapes of Wrath," not exactly the kind of thing I'd go out of my way to see. With the Times's recommendation, however, I decided to give this 1941 film a look.

Imagine my surprise to find Fonda showing such a wonderful flair for comedy! Having some familiarity with film history, I knew that Stanwyck in her day had been quite a femme fatale, and she certainly is here, but the innocent Fonda character wins her over...more or less. Their on-again, off-again romance carries almost as many plot twists as their are laughs in this wonderful film.

I'm one of those people who like the idea of "old movies" better than almost any specific old movie, but thanks to the Times I now have a clue as to which old films are really worth savoring. "The Lady Eve" is high on that list now, along with such as "Camilla" and "The Little Foxes" (I always knew about "Casablanca," at least). Why did it take me so long to find this gem? Nobody said anything about it. Shame on you older folks for keeping this secret to yourself! I guess it's up to latecomers like me to pass the word on to those of us under 50.
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The Lady Eve (The Criterion Collection)
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