Friday, February 24, 2012

The Lady Eve

Writes Roger Ebert:
If I were asked to name the single scene in all of romantic comedy that was sexiest and funniest at the same time, I would advise beginning at six seconds past the 20-minute mark in Preston Sturges' "The Lady Eve,'' and watching as Barbara Stanwyck toys with Henry Fonda's hair in an unbroken shot that lasts three minutes and 51 seconds.

Stanwyck plays an adventuress who has lured a rich but unworldly young bachelor to her cabin on an ocean liner, and is skillfully tantalizing him. She reclines on a chaise. He has landed on the floor next to her. "Hold me tight!'' she says, holding him tight -- allegedly because she has been frightened by a snake. Now begins the unbroken shot. Her right arm cradles his head, and as she talks she toys with his earlobe and runs her fingers through his hair. She teases, kids and flirts with him, and he remains almost paralyzed with shyness and self-consciousness. And at some point during this process, she falls for him.

That isn't part of her plan. Stanwyck plays Jean Harrington, a con woman who travels first class with her father and their valet, fleecing rich travelers in card games and whatever else comes along. She sets her sights on Charles Pike (Fonda), heir to a brewery fortune, as he comes aboard after a snake-hunting expedition in South America. She drops an apple on his pith helmet as he climbs the rope ladder to the ship, and is reprimanded by her father: "Don't be vulgar, Jean. Let us be crooked, but never common.''

The Complete Review Here.

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