Fonda shines in a rare early comedy role, his second with Ms. Stanwyck. They paired up three years earlier in the delightful The Mad Miss Manton (1938). Here he plays Charles Pike, a young rich man, on his way back from a year long scientific research in the Amazon, aboard a cruise ship. Charles is accompanied by his bodyguard/friend Ambrose, played by Sturges regular William Demarest. Charles is promptly tagged by con artists Jean Harrington (Stanwyck) and Harry (Charles Coburn) who pretend they are father and daughter and who love take rich people to the cleaners, mainly through cards. Well on this rare occasion, Jean falls in love with Charles and is ready to settle down. But Charles finds out about her past and things turn sour fast.
Having being jilted by Charles, Jean tries to get back at him by pretending to be a English woman who is visiting Charles family. Of course Charles thinks it's Jean, but she tells him her name is Eve and he promptly falls in love with her. Cue screwball antics. I love this movie. It's one of my favorites of all time. Stanwyck and Fonda show that they can do more than just drama and thrillers and are perfect in this film. One of the funniest scenes to me in this film is when Jean is checking out Charles with her mirror on the ship and pretends to do the conversation she sees Charles having with a young lady. It's hilarious as all get out. I wouldn't be surprised if some of that was ad-libbed the way Barbara handles the scene. It's awesome. The duo get great support from Coburn and Demarest. One of the best screwball comedies ever made. And directed with the usual great flair by Preston Sturges.