As a happy birthday to myself, I decided to go see The Lady Eve at the Alamo Drafthouse, since it was one of their special offerings for badass ladies month. The Lady Eve was filmed in 1941, so I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve never heard of it. I certainly hadn’t, until I watched the trailer at the Drafthouse before Thor 2.
“I need him like the axe needs the turkey.”
And that was the reason I decided I had to see the movie. Just for that line alone, which was spoken by Barbara Stanwyck in an utterly predatory tone.
The Lady Eve is a romantic comedy, of sorts. I’m honestly not that big into romantic comedies, because any more they fall into the formula of a man-child causing a woman to give up her independence to become the stand-in for his mom while hijinks ensue. The Lady Eve is definitely not of that mold. Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) is a con artist who manages to utterly wreck the same man twice while he looks on in deer-in-the-headlights befuddlement.
And this movie is hilarious, with a distinct lack of the scatological humor that bores me half to death in a lot of new comedy movies. This one gets its humor from taking romance tropes and turning them on their ear. There is a marriage proposal scene that could have come out of any cheeseball romance where Jean and Charles are cuddling on a hill at sunset, and the entire time Charles is trying to make a romantic speech, a curious but insistent horse is trying to eat his hair. It’s wonderful.
I think the best part of The Lady Eve (other than that it almost caused me to pee myself laughing) is that Jean is the driving force behind the movie. She’s the one in charge. And even if the trope is that she’s the con artist that made the mistake of falling in love with her mark, she is still in control of the situation. It’s a wonderful inversion of gender roles that just filled me with glee.
Even better? If you want to see it, it’s on Netflix instant. And trust me, you want to see it.
(Also, it will forever be my headcanon that “Colonel” Harrington and Gerald are Jean’s gay dads. GO AHEAD, TELL ME I’M WRONG.)