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Wow, what a matchup....two great Preston Sturges comedies involving deception and fake identities. I'm choosing The Lady Eve. Just think Fonda and Stanwyck have better chemistry and screen presence.
Of the two, I thought Lady was more of a piece, had a clearer and more consistent narrative, and was flat-out more entertaining. It was my first Sturges and I have to say that after having my expectations set so high, Palm Beach disappointed me a little. The fact that it was obviously riffing It Happened One Night just emphasized how much more innocent and charming Capra's original characters were. Plus I hated hated hated the frame narrative/twist at the end, which struck me as trying too hard to be clever. That said, I liked the Ale and Quail Club, and the Weenie King. And the scenes between Caludette Colbert and Joel McCrea were splendidly sexy (did anyone do sexy better than Sturges?), just as sexy as Stanwyck and Fonda's little moments of intimacy. The thing is, I cared more about what happened to Stanwyck and Fonda's characters, and The Lady Eve is just the stronger movie overall.