Saturday, January 20, 2007

"You're certainly a funny girl for anybody to meet who's just been up the Amazon for a year."

The Lady Eve

After a year up the Amazon studying snakes, wealthy but naive Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) meets con-artist Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) on a ship. They fall in love but her father disapproves and his valet is suspicious ... with hilarious results.

This is one of a string of old movies I have been forcing on bestowing upon the family. It occurs to me that not having VCRs or cable was actually quite an education in old movies for anyone who liked to watch the Saturday afternoon or Sunday night movies on television as I did. I have more than a speaking acquaintance with a wide variety of classics featuring everything from gangsters to werewolves (will I ever forget Michael Landon in his letter jacket?) to reprobates and schoolgirls marooned on South Pacific islands to King Kong to ... zany Hollywood comedies.

The best thing about Netflix to me is that one can line up a list of these old classics and then not be distracted by the newer, glitzier films as one strolls along the aisles of the movie rental store. Although, as Rose rightfully points out, one also must have heard of the movie first instead of being able to browse and find something that is old and "new." Luckily we have an excellent independent rental location near us. Therefore, when our Netflix gift certificate runs out we will be returning to aisle browsing. Hopefully, this extended exposure to old comedies, westerns, and dramas will help make me remember to go down those aisles as well as the "New" section.

Back to the movie. This is one that Rose, at least, seemed highly dubious about. However, it only took about five minutes and we were all laughing aloud at the clever script and excellent acting. This is a light and frothy comedy that, as with all old movies, also gave us a glimpse into a world long gone.

It also can be occasionally shocking in a quite unintended way. After watching the movie we watched the movie trailer. By this time we were used to Henry Fonda repeating that he hadn't seen a woman since he'd been up the Amazon for a year. It was startling to hear the trailer voice-over announce that he "hadn't seen a white woman" for over a year. We actually gasped ... such a thing never had occurred to us. Then we remembered the valet accepting a flower necklace from one of the native women before leaving. 1941 was certainly a different time and that was an interesting reminder that it isn't always just about our lack of elevator attendants and cocktails before dinner.

HC rating: Nine thumbs up!

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