Film Analysis

 In “The Lady Eve” (Preston Sturges, Paramount, 1941), the scene of the dinner party for Lady Eve makes use of medium shots, diegetic and synchronous sound to help convey the romantic comedy genre without disobeying The Hays Office Production code. The Motion Pictures Patent Company moved from New York to Hollywood and in surprise these Hollywood films still remained popular during the depression.

The dinner party scene takes place in Pike’s (the male lead) house with his lady love disguised as a different woman just to get his attention again. Pike seems to be very clumsy during the scenes of this party. The scene first starts off with Pike and his attendant Muggsy are gossiping in his room while Pike changes his stained suit. Most of this part of the scene is taken as a medium-long shot. You see two men gossiping secretly and you feel as if you are part of this secret. The view is as if you are in the back corner witnessing this act secretly. Not much sound in this part of the scene except for the two men talking and that was all that was necessary for this part. It would seem odd to have to much sound going on in a part of a scene that would normally in real life be done in a very quiet area.

Pike and Muggsy leave the door to enter the staircase and it slowly fades out of his room into the stairwell that leads into the dining room. It’s almost like continuity editing, it looks as if the room scene and the part in the stairwell is tried to be made as one whole scene without a break so it can cleanly go into the dinner party scene without making the viewer see a separation.

Pike enters the dining room and sits into his seat. The first thing noticed is candle-lights being placed in front of every sit of the table in the middle. The room is lit pretty well but the lighting on the main lead actor and actress’ faces are much brighter. This is probably because this part of the scene uses a lot of medium shots where the frame includes characters that have nothing to do with the plot but are included in the dinner. The light points the viewer’s eyes toward the main characters to we don’t lose track of them and the story which is being enacted by those characters. The camera is also always in front of the character.

The dinner party scene is a pretty long take. It goes on for quite a while with not much happening, it’s mainly a comic scene. You would think it would be difficult to create a comic act without offending The Hays Office Production code. The use of diegetic and synchronous sound helps give the film a comic and romantic type mood. There is music playing in the background which blends in with the fact that it is an actual dinner party. Even if it was just background music instead of actual music playing at the party, it seems as if it was perfect for the setting of a party. During the scene, you can hear the other people attending the dinner talking and the sound of dishes being moved while eating. At the same time you have the main characters continuing the plot. The sound effects help contribute to the setting of this scene.

In a time of depression, where people can’t afford movie tickets and just don’t want to go out into the world to actually enjoy life, a romantic comedy would be the last thing a person would want to spend their money on. Still, this movie did well even though at first it did have trouble with following The Hays Office Production Code because of suggestive acts that were not accepted and rejected morals. It was revised and then accept into the film world. The cinematography contributed to making this film a success in the genre it was in.

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