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The Lady EveUSA 1941
Directed by Preston Sturges
Running time 94 minutes
Based on a story by Monckton Hoffe and adapted by Sturges for the screen, the director's first film is a comedic tour-de-force that like all great comedy has its dimension of pathos.
Barbara Stanwyck plays an adventuress who, with her father (Charles Coburn), works the cruise ship circuit fleecing the idle rich. Along comes Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), the bookish heir to a brewery fortune and the fun begins.
Sturges' script is wonderful, full of delicious dialogue, sly jokes (like the snake and apple that are worked into proceedings early on) and sight gags but is exceptional for the screwball comedy genre in that it interweaves an engaging story of the rocky road to love in between the japes and pratfalls courtesy of the romance between the gold-digging Stanwyck and the incorrigibly idealistic Fonda. Like his script, Sturges' direction is outstanding and the film unfolds with seeming effortlessness, the performances from both the leads and the director's regular cast of support players are equal to the task.
DVD Extras: A 75m documentary on Sturges, The Rise And Fall Of An American Dreamer; the theatrical trailer
Available from: Umbrella Entertainment