Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Lady Eve (1941)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Lady Eve (1941)

In Preston Sturges' classic romantic screwball comedy about a battle of the sexes:

  • the many scenes of comic erotic seduction, sexy legs, slapstick pratfalls, and witty dialogue between con artist Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) and wealthy snake expert Charles "Hopsie" Pike (Henry Fonda) - the wealthy heir to a brewery fortune
  • specifically on a transatlantic oceanliner, the characters of resourceful, sophisticated and alluring Jean Harrington and her crooked but lovable father, Colonel Harrington (Charles Coburn), who took advantage of innocent, dense and slow-thinking, snake-loving 'Hopsie'; she sized him up as she voyeuristically watched the eligible bachelor and described what she saw through a compact make-up mirror held up to reflect the obvious and futile efforts and tricks of other amateurish debutantes and single women behind her, while she commented on Hopsie's unpreparedness and deplorable naivete: ("Not good enough...they're not good enough for him. Every Jane in the room is giving him the thermometer and he feels they're just a waste of time. He's returning to his book, he's deeply immersed in it. He sees no one except - watch his head turn when that kid goes by. It won't do you any good, dear, he's a bookworm, but swing 'em anyway. Oh, now how about this one. How would you like that hanging on your Christmas tree? Oh you wouldn't? Well, what is your weakness, brother? Holy smoke, the dropped kerchief! That hasn't been used since Lily Langtry. You'll have to pick it up yourself, madam. It's a shame, but he doesn't care for the flesh. He'll never see it...(imitating Hopsie speaking to himself) I wonder if my tie's on straight. I certainly upset them, don't I? Now who else is after me? Ah, the lady champion wrestler, wouldn't she make a houseful. Oh, you don't like her either. Well, what are you going to do about her? Oh, you just can't stand it anymore. You're leaving. These women don't give you a moment's peace, do they? Well go ahead! Go sulk in your cabin. Go soak your head and see if I care")
  • after her long monologue, Jean's attempt to snare the reclusive millionaire as he walked out, by stretching out her shapely foot and ankle from under the table into his path, tripping him - and after he fell flat on his face to the floor, she complained that he had broken her shoe's heel - and forced him to accompany her to her room to replace them -- her means to get acquainted
  • the flirtatious scene in her ship's cabin after Charles escorted Jean there to try on a new pair of evening 'slippers' - when she extended her shapely leg for the fitting, he held onto her ankle and stared deeply into her eyes, while she stared back and he became overpowered by her perfume: ("You see, where I've been, I mean up the Amazon, you kind of forget how, I mean, when you haven't seen a girl in a long time. I mean, uh, there's something about that perfume that...Like it! I'm cock-eyed on it!") - she resisted him, purposely: ("Why Hopsie! You ought to be kept in a cage!")
  • the sequence of Charles' introduction of his pet snake Emma (a rare type of Brazilian glass snake) to Jean when they were outside his stateroom cabin: ("Would you care to come in... and see Emma?") - she flippantly responded: ("That's a new one, isn't it?") - and then she screamed when she saw the creature slithering around on Charles' pajamas on the bed, and rushed out of the room
  • the memorable most artful, sexually-lustful seduction scene, back in her cabin, when she leaned over and wrapped her arms around his neck, almost holding it in a vise, and began to caress his hair, face and earlobe - while his eyes sometimes closed. Jean cradled his head with her right arm, and as they talked, she nuzzled close to his cheek, tantalized him and drove him wild: ("Oh darling, hold me tight! Oh, you don't know what you've done to me"); during a lengthy conversation, with her face nestled against his, she teased and kidded with him - and tenderly and seductively stroked his cheek and fooled with his hair and ear, causing him to become paralyzed with desire; and then she described her ideal man: ("He's a little short guy with lots of money....What does it matter if he's rich? It's so he'll look up to me. So I'll be his ideal....And when he takes me out to dinner, he'll never add up the check and he won't smoke greasy cigars or use grease on his hair. And, oh yes, he, he won't do card tricks...When I marry, it's gonna be somebody I've never seen before. I mean I won't know what he looks like or where he'll come from of what he'll be. I want him to sort of - take me by surprise....And the night will be heavy with perfume. And I'll hear a step behind me and somebody breathing heavily, and then - you'd better go to bed, Hopsie. I think I can sleep peacefully now")
Seductive Flirtations in Her Ship's Cabin
  • the sequence of Jean's elaborate and vengeful scam to get even: ("I've got some unfinished business with him. I need him like the axe needs the turkey") - a tricky impersonation of aristocratic English woman, Lady Eve Sedgwick (who looked suspiciously exactly like Jean Harrington) to seduce Charles (a second time) and make him fall in love with her again - so that she could get the upper hand; Charles was completely taken aback and stunned when first introduced to Lady Eve
  • confused by Lady Eve's identity, the magnificent pratfall when Charles was distracted, and he tripped and dove right over a low sofa couch, ending up on top of a coffee table with his head in a bowl of lobster dip, as his rotund, frog-voiced father Mr. Horace Pike (Eugene Pallette) remarked: "You haven't been hitting the bottle lately, have you?"
  • their wedding night scene aboard a speeding train en route to their honeymoon - causing Pike great dismay when Lady Eve vengefully revealed her past and told him - one-by-one - about all of her affairs with her ex-lovers (Angus, Herman, Vernon, Cecil, Hubert, Herbert, and John); eventually, he couldn't forgive her indiscretions anymore - utterly dazed, disgusted, and disillusioned by all her experiences and driven jealously mad, pajama-clad Charles (with an overcoat and hat) exited the train as it slowed at the next stop, to hastily escape from their nuptial room; he tossed his suitcases from the train and stumbled off, slipping and slowly falling down in the mud - another ignominious, humiliating fall onto his back
Exchange of Kisses At Her Ocean Liner Stateroom's Cabin Door
  • in the final scene, again onboard an ocean liner, Jean happened to luckily meet Pike again by deliberately tripping him -- and they exchanged curtain closing revelations at her state-room cabin door:
    - Pike: "There's just one thing. I feel it's only fair to tell you. It would never have happened except she looked so exactly like you. And I have no right to be in your cabin....Because I'm married"
    -- Jean: "But so am I, darling. So am I"
  • Pike's cynical and protective guardian/valet Muggsy (William Demarest) delivered the final line to the camera after stealthily sneaking out of their room: "Positively the same dame!"

Con Artist Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck)

With Wealthy Heir Charles "Hopsie" Pike (Henry Fonda)

Extending Her Shapely Leg to Entice Him

Screaming at Hopsie's Pet Snake Emma

Jean's Impersonation of Aristocratic English Woman - Lady Eve Sedgwick

Charles' Stunned Look When Introduced to Lady Eve

Charles' Pratfall

Lady Eve's Revelation of All Her Past Affairs on Speeding Train on Wedding Night

Muggsy (William Demarest) - Last Line: "Positively the same dame!"


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z