The Lady Eve (1941)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Sophisticated Comedy  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The Lady Eve is among the funniest films of the World War II era, and one of the few comedies whose humor has survived both cultural changes and shifting audience demographics. Directed by Preston Sturges with his usual efficiency, the battle-of-the-sexes story allows star performers Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck to shine, though supporting performer William Demarest often steals the show. As was common in the censorship-laden war era, Sturges resorted to several clever sexual symbols. Fonda's character is an expert on snakes, and there is a funny moment when the audience catches the phallically suggestive book title, Are Snakes Necessary?. The dialogue is consistently bright and peppy. As Roger Ebert has pointed out, Fonda's steady, down-to-earth performance is necessary to allow Stanwyck's screwball character to shine.