My first experience dabbling into the world of Preston Struges was fairly encouraging, if not nearly dazzling enough to inspire me to aggressively seek more of his work out (particularly because this one is considered one of his best). The Lady Eve smoothly evolves from potential con flick to screwball comedy, though each half has portions of both nestled within. Sturges trusts his actors, which is a smart move—Henry Fonda is terrific as always, and Barbara Stanwyck also shines as the mischievous-but-sort-of-lovestruck Jean/Eve—but his faith goes deeper than merely casting stars in the lead. Sturges’ compositions are often very crowded, with lots going on at once, and the performers are forced to fight through the clutter to stand out, something that Fonda, Stanwyck and a gaggle of supporting folks do effectively as well. It’s amusing to view The Lady Eve through the prism of romance as a con job in and of itself. Fonda’s gullibility is endearing, as is Stanwyck’s inner turmoil over her chosen path vs. a womanly desire for stability, but the entirety of The Lady Eve never really gets beyond charming: it’s always light and enjoyable, yet rarely entirely satisfying. An easy movie to recommend, but a difficult one to get all worked up about.