Preston Sturges’ The Lady Eve is as amiable as ever as it gets a big screen re-release. The film is a giant of the screwball comedy genre.
Returning from a research trip in the Amazon, wealthy heir Charles meets Jean on a ship. Unbeknownst to him, Jean is part of a trio of scam artists. However, she begins to fall for her mark…
Released in 1941, The Lady Eve still works so well after all these years because all the elements just fizz. Writer-director Sturgess combines a brilliant script, with great performances and spot-on direction. The set up is a simple one; a card sharp develops feelings for her target, before he learns of her past. Yet the film has boundless appeal.
Jean Harrington is a brilliant protagonist. Despite her dubious intentions, she is someone to root for. She is both a trickster and a romantic; it is hard not to admire her. Elsewhere, there some great characters, such as Sir Alfred. As the romantic interest, Charles is the perfect archetype for Jean to play off. Based on a play by Moncton Hoffe, The Lady Eve has some terrific dialogue. There are also some wonderful set pieces, such as an early scene where Jean lures Charles in. Pacing in the film is good. The action moves along well, never feeling like it is rushing or dragging.
Costumes by Edith Head are wonderful. Barbara Stanwyck delivers a fantastic performance as Jean, a character which allows her to show her range, and particularly her comedic skills. Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, and Eric Blore are also great. The Lady Eve is a must-see for screwball comedy fans. First-time viewers may find themselves returning to Sturges’ film over and over again.
With an abundance of movie releases slated for next year, it can be hard to identify the gems. After all, there is a glut of Disney live-action remakes (Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King), as well as the straight up unappealing (Downton Abbey film, anyone). Here are some must-see films in 2019…
Begin the New Year with Yorgos Lanthimos’ brilliant The Favourite. Starring Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone, the film is Lanthimos’ most enjoyable to date. Boasting a superb script and wonderful performances, The Favourite is hilarious, consuming, and at times touching. Read full review here.
The Favourite will be released in UK cinemas on 1st January 2019.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Director Barry Jenkins has done it again with the powerful and beguiling If Beale Street Could Talk. There is so much to be in awe of in If Beale Street Could Talk. Jenkins’ attention to detail is superb. His storytelling is absolutely enchanting. Read full review here.
If Beale Street Could Talk will be released in UK cinemas on 8th February 2019.
The Lady Eve
Not a new release for the upcoming year, nevertheless the 1941 classic gets a re-release in 2019. Directed by Preston Sturges and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, the screwball comedy stands the test of time. For first time viewers, The Lady Eve will be one of the best films in 2019.
The Lady Eve will be released at the BFI Southbank and at selected cinemas nationwide from 15th February 2019. It will be screened as part of the Barbara Stanwyck season in February 2019. For more details see here.
Jordan Peele’s Us is one of the most anticipated films in 2019. Following the success of 2017’s Get Out, director and writer Peele returns with another striking-looking horror. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Elisabeth Moss, the film is about a family trip that takes a dark turn.
Us will be released in UK cinemas on 15th March 2019.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s latest film has the potential to be explosive. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is set during the Manson Family reign of terror, focusing on a television star and his stunt double. With a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Al Pacino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is sure to get people talking.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood will be released in UK cinemas on 26th July 2019.
Martin Scorsese’s latest project is a thrilling proposition. Focusing on a mob hitman and his possible involvement in the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa, the film sees Scorsese reunite with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and a host of Boardwalk Empire stars (Stephen Graham, Bobby Cannavale, Jack Huston). The Irishman also sees Scorsese direct Al Pacino for the first time. The film is expected to have a cinema release as well as being available to stream on Netflix.
László Nemes’ Sunset is a captivating watch. The director’s sophomore feature (after Son of Saul) is an entrancing mystery drama. Part of the film’s beauty is that it maintains this mystery throughout the duration. Set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the eve of World War I, Sunset‘s sense of unease is enthralling. The film is set to be released in early 2019.
After the success of 2014’s The Babadook, all eyes are on director Jennifer Kent for her next picture. The Nightingale is about a young Irish convict woman who chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness in the early nineteenth century. Starring Sam Claflin and Aisling Franciosi, the film premiered at Venice Film Festival and is due to be released in 2019.
Michael Winterbottom’s Greed is sure to be a lot of fun. The satire is about a fictional retail billionaire and the build up to his star-studded 60th birthday party on a Greek island. Greed stars Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, and David Mitchell. Although the protagonist is fictional, the parallels are all too clear. Greed is due to be released in UK cinemas in late 2019.
Like 2018, next year will see many sequels. Here are some of the more anticipated follow-up films in 2019. 2014’s The LEGO Movie gets a sequel, with the main voice cast returning, as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller as producers. The LEGO Movie 2 will be released in UK cinemas on 8th February 2019.
Later in the year, Avengers: Endgame sees the finale of the cycle of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which began with 2008’s Iron Man. The film will hit UK screens on 26th April 2019. Spider-Man: Far From Home is the sequel to 2017’s superb Spider-Man: Homecoming. Jake Gyllenhaal joins the returning cast for Spider-Man: Far From Home, which will be released on 5th July 2019. Later this year, Zombieland gets a belated sequel. The original cast return for Zombieland 2, which will be released in UK cinemas on 11th October 2019.
Frank Capra’s 1932 movie Forbidden is a tale of the most unwavering devotion. Although it is not his finest film, Forbidden is a decent melodrama boasting a fine performance by Barbara Stanwyck.
Bored with her life, librarian Lulu Smith decides to holiday on a cruise to Cuba. One night she meets Bob, and the pair form a mutual attraction. Bob is married, however, and divorce is out of the question…
Forbidden‘s extra-marital affair narrative was deemed quite offensive by some viewers on its release, but seems pretty tame now. Nevertheless, the themes of the film are as timeless as ever. Lulu’s devotion to Bob is unyielding; she is willing to sacrifice everything for the man she loves and wishes to protect.
Neither Lulu nor Bob are one-dimensional characters. It is easy to sympathise with them both, just as it is easy to be critical of their actions. While Lulu’s attraction to Bob is clear to see, the lengths she will go to in order to protect him are extreme, to say the least. It is only in these times that she is less relatable for viewers. Bob, meanwhile, is caught in a tricky position; not wanting to hurt his wife or career, but also not willing to give up Lulu. Although his struggle is apparent numerous times throughout the film, this does not negate his selfish motives.
Forbidden is mostly a serious affair, but it does have its lighter moments. Lulu’s exchange with the bank tender at the beginning and the debacle of Lulu dining alone on the cruise, as well as her banter with Holland, are hallmarks of more familiar Capra territory. The general tone of the movie is darker than most films more readily associated with the director.
Barbara Stanwyck gives a powerful performance as Lulu. It is a tragic role, and Stanwyck effectively conveys the encompassing range of emotions. Adolphe Menjou appears suitably cast as Bob, depicting the character’s charm, as well as his ambition. As Holland, Ralph Bellamy brings both lightness and a sense of menace to proceedings.
Capra and cinematographer Joseph Walker effectively contrast the holiday sequence with later scenes in the film. The glitz and glamour of the casino compares to the quiet of Lulu’s small apartment, while the romantic and almost silhouette-like horse ride by the sea is a strikingly disparate from the later political rally – truly a distinction between the private and the public.
Despite its ageless themes, Forbidden is very much a product of the early 1930s. It is the type of drama that appears much less frequent in contemporary cinema. As such, the film is as intriguing as a product of its time as it is as a film in its own right.
Forbidden was shown at the British Film Institute, as part of the Rediscovering Frank Capra season.