The Lady Eve (1941)

90 or 95 mins | Screwball comedy | 21 March 1941

Director:

Preston Sturges

Writer:

Preston Sturges

Producer:

Paul Jones

Cinematographer:

Victor Milner

Editor:

Stuart Gilmore

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was Two Bad Hats , which also was the title of Monckton Hoffe's original story. Preston Sturges's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Preston Sturges." The following information has been taken from the Preston Sturges Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library: In 1938, a HR news item reported that Sturges had been assigned to write the script from Hoffe's story, and that the film was to star Claudette Colbert. In 1939, Sturges consulted with producer Albert Lewin about his early script for The Lady Eve , and, among several criticisms, Lewin responded that he felt that "the first two-thirds of the script, in spite of the high quality of your jokes, will require an almost one hundred percent rewrite." Lewin reasoned that the sequences showing "Charles" as being "inordinately fond of snakes" served no purpose and "should be ruthlessly excised." Sturges responded with a letter in which he agreed that the sequences as yet had no connection to the rest of the film, but he adamantly stood by them. In his follow-up letter, Lewin "surrender[ed] unconditionally" to Sturges's judgment, and added the following: "Follow your witty nose, my boy; it will lead you and me and Paramount to the Elysian pastures of popular entertainment." Information in the MPAA/PCA Files at the AMPAS Library reveals that the PCA initially rejected the script due to "the definite suggestion of a sex affair between your two leads" which lacked "compensating moral values." A revised script was approved, however.
       Contemporary news items reported the following about the production: In Jul 1940, Joel McCrea, Madeleine Carroll and Paulette Goddard ... More Less

The working title of this film was Two Bad Hats , which also was the title of Monckton Hoffe's original story. Preston Sturges's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by Preston Sturges." The following information has been taken from the Preston Sturges Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library: In 1938, a HR news item reported that Sturges had been assigned to write the script from Hoffe's story, and that the film was to star Claudette Colbert. In 1939, Sturges consulted with producer Albert Lewin about his early script for The Lady Eve , and, among several criticisms, Lewin responded that he felt that "the first two-thirds of the script, in spite of the high quality of your jokes, will require an almost one hundred percent rewrite." Lewin reasoned that the sequences showing "Charles" as being "inordinately fond of snakes" served no purpose and "should be ruthlessly excised." Sturges responded with a letter in which he agreed that the sequences as yet had no connection to the rest of the film, but he adamantly stood by them. In his follow-up letter, Lewin "surrender[ed] unconditionally" to Sturges's judgment, and added the following: "Follow your witty nose, my boy; it will lead you and me and Paramount to the Elysian pastures of popular entertainment." Information in the MPAA/PCA Files at the AMPAS Library reveals that the PCA initially rejected the script due to "the definite suggestion of a sex affair between your two leads" which lacked "compensating moral values." A revised script was approved, however.
       Contemporary news items reported the following about the production: In Jul 1940, Joel McCrea, Madeleine Carroll and Paulette Goddard were considered for the lead roles. In Aug 1940, Madeleine Carroll and Fred MacMurray were announced as the co-stars, and in Sep 1940, Darryl Zanuck loaned Henry Fonda to co-star with Paulette Goddard. Goddard, however, was replaced by Barbara Stanwyck. The opening jungle river scene was shot on location at Baldwin Lake near Santa Anita, CA. Modern sources add the following credits: Wilda Bennett, Evelyn Beresford, Georgie Cooper, Gayne Whitman, Alfred Hall, Bertram Marburgh, George Melford, Arthur Stuart Hull, Kenneth Gibson ( Guests at party ), Joe North ( Butler at party ), Pauline Drake ( Social secretary ), Julius Tannen, Ray Flynn, Harry A. Bailey ( Lawyers in Pike's office ), Ambrose Barker ( Mac ), Jean Phillips ( Sweetie ), Ella Neal, Marcelle Christopher ( Daughters on boat ), John Hartley ( Young man on boat ), Eva Dennison, Almeda Fowler, Helen Dickson ( Mothers on boat ), Mary Akin, Jan Buckingham ( Women on boat ), Esther Michelson ( Wife on boat ), Mrs. Gardner Crane ( Lady on boat ), Frances Raymond ( Old lady on boat ), Ernesto Palmese, Mitchell Ingraham ( Men on boat ), Cyril Ring, Sam Ash, ( Husbands on boat ), Richard Kipling ( Father on boat ), Harry Depp ( Spectacled man ), Jack Richardson ( Father of girl on boat ), Wally Walker ( Sparky ), Robert Warwick ( Passenger ). Monckton Hoffe was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Writing (Original Story) for this film. The Lady Eve was voted best picture of the year by the NYT , and ranked among the top ten films in box office sales. In 1956, Paramount released The Birds and the Bees , a remake of The Lady Eve , directed by Norman Taurog, and starring George Gobel, Mitzi Gaynor and David Niven. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Mar 1941.
---
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1941.
---
Film Daily
27 Feb 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1938.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 41
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
20 Sep 1940.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 Feb 41
p. 53.
New York Times
26 Feb 41
p. 17.
Variety
26 Feb 41
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Prod
WRITERS
A scr based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost
Women's ward
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus score
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
Bus mgr
Casting
Scr supv
Stage eng
ANIMATION
Animated titles
SOURCES
MUSIC
"With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair," by Jack Lawrence and Clara Edwards.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Two Bad Hats
Release Date:
21 March 1941
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 February 1941
Production Date:
21 October--5 December 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 March 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10343
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90 or 95
Length(in feet):
8,429
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6801
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

After Charles Poncefort Pike, an ophiologist and heir to the Pike's Pale Ale fortune, leaves a zoological expedition in the South American jungle, he boards an ocean liner headed for the East Coast. Although the eligible bachelor only has eyes for his book on snakes and is oblivious to all the young female passengers, Jean Harrington succeeds in getting his attention by tripping him as he leaves the dining room. Jean, a con artist and cardsharp who works with her father, ensnares Charlie with her feminine wiles, and despite the warnings of Charlie's suspicious guardian, Muggsy, Charlie falls in love with Jean. Much to her own surprise, Jean also falls in love with Charlie, and informs her father that she intends to go straight. "Colonel" Harrington does not share her good intentions, however, and despite Jean's intervention in his card game that night, Harrington wins $32,000 from the luckless Charlie. Harrington pretends to rip the check up to impress Jean, but Charlie breaks off his engagement to Jean when he learns that she and her father are well-documented con artists. Hurt, Jean's tender thoughts of love turn to calculating thoughts of revenge, and is happy when Harrington produces the check intact. The ship docks, and some time later, the Harringtons encounter their friend Pearly at an East Coast horse race. Pearly, also a con artist, is posing as Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith while living in the Pike hometown of Bridgefield, Connecticut. Still bent on revenge, Jean arranges to pose as Pearly's niece, Lady Eve Sidwich of England. The Pikes throw a lavish introduction party for Lady Eve, at which a clumsy Charlie is astonished by her ... +


After Charles Poncefort Pike, an ophiologist and heir to the Pike's Pale Ale fortune, leaves a zoological expedition in the South American jungle, he boards an ocean liner headed for the East Coast. Although the eligible bachelor only has eyes for his book on snakes and is oblivious to all the young female passengers, Jean Harrington succeeds in getting his attention by tripping him as he leaves the dining room. Jean, a con artist and cardsharp who works with her father, ensnares Charlie with her feminine wiles, and despite the warnings of Charlie's suspicious guardian, Muggsy, Charlie falls in love with Jean. Much to her own surprise, Jean also falls in love with Charlie, and informs her father that she intends to go straight. "Colonel" Harrington does not share her good intentions, however, and despite Jean's intervention in his card game that night, Harrington wins $32,000 from the luckless Charlie. Harrington pretends to rip the check up to impress Jean, but Charlie breaks off his engagement to Jean when he learns that she and her father are well-documented con artists. Hurt, Jean's tender thoughts of love turn to calculating thoughts of revenge, and is happy when Harrington produces the check intact. The ship docks, and some time later, the Harringtons encounter their friend Pearly at an East Coast horse race. Pearly, also a con artist, is posing as Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith while living in the Pike hometown of Bridgefield, Connecticut. Still bent on revenge, Jean arranges to pose as Pearly's niece, Lady Eve Sidwich of England. The Pikes throw a lavish introduction party for Lady Eve, at which a clumsy Charlie is astonished by her resemblance to Jean. Although Muggsy insists that Lady Eve and Jean are the same person, Charlie, using backward logic, thinks the resemblance is too close and that consequently, they must be different women. He soon falls deeply in love with Lady Eve. Jean and Charlie become engaged, much to the Pikes's delight, and she continues her pose through their wedding. She finally exacts her revenge on their wedding night by relating a fictional history of love affairs to her stunned husband. Mortified by his new wife's apparently sordid past, Charlie immediately gets off their honeymoon train in his pajamas and later sues for divorce. Now remorseful, Jean realizes that she is still in love with Charlie and insists on settling without renumeration if Charlie will only speak with her, but he refuses. Out of desperation, Jean books passage on the same ocean liner on which Charlie is traveling and again trips him to get his attention. Charlie is thrilled to see Jean, still unaware that she is also Lady Eve, and when he tries to explain that he is married, she assures him that she, too, is married. Muggsy, reacting to the reunion, mutters "Positively the same dame." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.