The Lady Eve is a film about a woman who falls in love with a man she meets on a ship. The film was released in 1941 and starred Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. The film was directed by Preston Sturges.
The film is set on a cruise ship, and the story follows the relationship between two people, Eve (Stanwyck) and Charles (Fonda). Eve is a con artist who falls for Charles, who is a wealthy businessman. The two eventually get married, but their relationship is fraught with tension.
The film deals with themes of deception, love, and marriage. It is considered to be one of Sturges’ best films.
The first shot starts with Charles (Hopsie) walking up and down on deck, where a cheery and whistling Charles (Hopsie) prances about waiting for Jean to show up. The diegetic sound of children playing on the deck and a bell ringing in the distance are heard as Charles strides about. When two men walk straight in front of Charles while he is pacing back and forth, the attention shifts.
One of the men blocks Charles from our view and the other man’s head is cut off in the frame. This change in focus could be interpreted as a hint that something is about to happen or that someone is about to interrupt Charles and Jean’s meeting.
The second scene is set in a secluded spot on the deck where Charles and Jean are talking. The camera is at a low angle, making Jean look more powerful than Charles. She is standing while he is seated, which also adds to her sense of power.
We see a medium shot of their faces as they talk, with Jean doing most of the talking. There are close ups of both characters as well, which allows us to see their expressions and get a sense of their emotions. Jean is angry and frustrated while Charles looks confused and a bit scared.
The third scene takes place in Jean’s cabin. The camera is at a low angle again, making Jean look powerful. We see a close up of her face as she talks to Charles. She is trying to seduce him and we can see the anger and frustration in her face turn into desire. There are close ups of Charles as well, which show his confusion turning into desire as well.
The fourth scene is set in Charles’s cabin. The camera is at a high angle, making Charles look small and powerless. We see a close up of his face as he tries to explain himself to Jean. He looks scared and pleading. There are close ups of Jean as well, which show her anger and frustration turning into pity.
Muggsy has discovered proof of the Harringtons’ card-sharping, and while the camera keeps focusing on Charles, he walks up to him with the purser, who holds an 8 x 10 envelope in his hand.
They have a reputation as international card sharks.” The film then abruptly cuts to a scene of Muggsy playing poker with some of his buddies. The film The Lady Eve features a number of recurrences, which add to the comic effect of the film.
For example, the film opens with a close-up of Jean Harrington’s ( Barbara Stanwyck) foot as she steps off a boat, and later in the film there is another close-up of her foot as she steps on a banana peel. This repetition serves to remind the viewer of Jean’s clumsiness and also serves to set up the film’s main plot point, which revolves around Jean’s efforts to con Charles Pike ( Henry Fonda) out of his money.
Another example of recurrence in The Lady Eve is the film’s use of voice-over. In the beginning of the film, we hear Jean’s voice-over as she narrates a story about a snake. Later on, after Jean has conned Charles and they are married, we hear her voice-over again as she tells him the story of how she first met him. This time, however, her voice-over is intercut with scenes from their actual meeting, which serves to show how Jean has changed her story in order to manipulate Charles.
The film also features a number of visual motifs that are repeated throughout the film. One such motif is the use of images of animals to represent the characters in the film. For example, early on in the film we see a close-up of a monkey’s face, which is later revealed to be part of a statue that Charles has in his room. This image of the monkey is used to represent Charles throughout the film, as it represents his childlike innocence and naivete.
Another such motif is the use of images of snakes, which are used to represent Jean. This is first seen in the opening scene, where we see a close-up of a snake’s skin being shed, followed by a shot of Jean’s footstep on the boat. Later on in the film, we see shots of a snake charmer with a basket full of snakes, as well as shots of Jean holding a snake.
Charles is absolutely devastated to learn that she is his long-lost daughter. The camera follows him as he steps resolutely towards the bar and orders a strong drink in a general shot, with the background music becoming extremely ominous and sluggish. Jean appears from the left of him in the bar; the scene cuts to a medium shot of Charles and Jean at the bar.
Charles addresses Jean with a look of cold, hurt anger.
“You lied to me,” he says accusingly.
“I never lied to you,” she replies evenly.
“You said your name was Eve.”
“It is my name.”
“Your real name is Jean Harrington.”
There is a long silence as they look at each other in the bar. Finally, Jean speaks quietly and with great sincerity. “I’m sorry, Charles. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Charles just looks at her for a moment, then his face softens and he gives a weary sigh. “I know,” he says resignedly, and we see that all the anger has drained out of him.
The film then transitions to a montage of shots in which we see Jean and Charles happy together, walking arm in arm through Central Park, attending the opera, and so on. It is clear that they have fallen in love with each other.
The final shot of the film shows Jean and Charles sitting on a park bench, looking at each other with affection. The film ends on a note of hope and happiness, with the implication that they will continue to be together.