'The Lady Eve,' 1941

Preston Sturges' most beguiling movie is a sexy piece of romantic slapstick -- right from the beginning, when a cartoon snake in a top hat, sporting a maraca where the rattle should be, does a high-spirited tropical dance down the side of the opening credits, ending up curling in and out of Sturges' name. The hero is an ale heir (Henry Fonda) who also happens to be a top amateur ophiologist, the type of herpetologist who specializes in snakes. Barbara Stanwyck plays a con artist who sees him as an easy mark, but then falls in love with him. This too-naive Adam and too-experienced Eve can't shake their feelings for each other even after they betray each other repeatedly. Perhaps the sexiest-funniest sequence in cinema comes when he asks her to meet his latest snake. The con woman ends up mussing the ophiologist's hair and caressing his cheek for minutes, then finishes the conversation with, "I think I can sleep peacefully now." He tickles her when he answers, "I wish I could say the same."
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