AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Lady Eve
Alternate Title: Two Bad Hats
Director: Preston Sturges (Dir)
Release Date:   21 Mar 1941
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 25 Feb 1941
Production Date:   21 Oct--5 Dec 1940
Duration (in mins):   90 or 95
Duration (in feet):   8,429
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Cast:   Barbara Stanwyck (Jean [Harrington, also known as Lady Eve Sidwich])  
    Henry Fonda (Charles [Poncefort Pike])  
    Charles Coburn ("Colonel" Harrington)  
    Eugene Pallette (Mr. Pike)  
    William Demarest (Muggsy)  
    Eric Blore (Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith [also known as Pearly])  
    Melville Cooper (Gerald)  
    Martha O'Driscoll (Martha)  
    Janet Beecher (Mrs. Pike)  
    Robert Greig (Burrows)  
    Dora Clement (Gertrude)  
    Luis Alberni (Pike's chef)  
    Frank Moran (Bartender at party)  
    Pat West (Bartender on boat)  
    Wilson Benge (Butler)  
    Harry Rosenthal (Piano tuner)  
    Abdullah Abbas (Man with potted palm)  
    Norman Ainsley (Sir Alfred's manservant)  
    Arthur Hoyt (Lawyer in Pike's office)  
    Jimmy Conlin (Steward)  
    Al Bridge (Steward)  
    Vic Potel (Steward)  
    Reginald Sheffield (Professor Jones)  
    Wanda McKay (Girl on boat)  
    Betty Farrington (Mother on boat)  
    Nell Craig (Passenger)  
    Robert Dudley (Passenger)  
    Torben Meyer (Purser)  

Summary: 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." 

Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Preston Sturges (Dir)
  Mel Epstein (Asst dir)
  Barton Adams (2d asst dir)
Producer: William LeBaron (Exec prod)
  Paul Jones (Prod)
Writer: Monckton Hoffe (A scr based on a story by)
  Preston Sturges (Wrt)
Photography: Victor Milner (Dir of photog)
  Guy Roe (2d cam)
  Frank Dugas (Asst cam)
  Hubert H. Soldier Graham (Gaffer)
  G. E. Richardson (Stills)
Art Direction: Hans Dreier (Art dir)
  Ernst Fegté (Art dir)
Film Editor: Stuart Gilmore (Ed)
  Chandler House (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Sam Comer (Set dresser)
  Robert McCrillis (Props)
  Ernest Johnson (Props)
Costumes: Edith Head (Cost)
  Edna Shotwell (Women's ward)
  Richard Bachler (Men's ward)
Music: Sigmund Krumgold (Mus dir)
  Leo Shuken (Mus score)
  Charles W. Bradshaw (Mus score)
Sound: Harry Lindgren (Sd rec)
  Don Johnson (Sd rec)
  Harry Katherman (Rec)
  Ted Powell (Mike grip)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup artist)
  Hollis Barnes (Hair)
Production Misc: Ernst Laemmle (Tech dir)
  Roy Burns (Bus mgr)
  Bob Mayo (Casting)
  Claire Behnke (Scr supv)
  Teet Carle (Pub)
  Ray Cossar (Stage eng)
  George Gottlieber (Grip)
  Lorne Netten (Elec)
Animation: Leon Schlesinger (Animated titles)
Country: United States

Music: "With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair," by Jack Lawrence and Clara Edwards.
Songs:
Composer: Clara Edwards
  Jack Lawrence
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Paramount Pictures, Inc. 21/3/1941 dd/mm/yyyy LP10343 Yes

PCA NO: 6801
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

 
Genre: Screwball comedy
 
Subjects (Major): Cardsharping
  Fathers and daughters
  Heirs
  Impersonation and imposture
  Revenge
  Romance
 
Subjects (Minor): Chaperons
  Ocean liners
  Parties
  Proposals (Marital)
  Reunions
  Weddings
  Servants
  Snakes
  Trains

Note: 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. 

Bibliographic Sources:   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.

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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.
 
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