After studying snakes on the Amazon for a year, Henry Fonda, an ophiologist (one who studies snakes), and William Demarest leave the Amazon river and catch a ride on the cruise liner Barbara Stanwyck is on. Demarest is Fonda’s body guard – and did he ever need one. Stanwyck is the con artist, and Fonda is the eligible bachelor she’s after. Stanwyck, who is looking for a rich man to con, finds Fonda, who is looking for a ride home. They both get more than they bargained for.
All the guests at dinner are staring at him as he reads a book by himself at his dinner table. Because he’s sitting behind her, Stanwyck sees him through her small mirror and gives a hilarious play-by-play of what everyone must be thinking or saying. Then as he walks by, she sticks her shoe in his path. He trips and she blames him for not looking where he was going. She shows him the broken heel off her shoe and suggests he accompany her to her room to get another pair of shoes because it’s the least he could do. She was able to snag the one man everyone else wanted. But that was only the first part of her plan.
When Stanwyck finally meets Emma, the snake in Fonda’s room, she’s frightened and he follows her to her room where she grabs him and brings him into her room, makes him check under the bed and under the sheets to make sure there weren’t any snakes in there. Too bad he didn’t realize he was talking to one.
After having seen Titanic, Fonda’s romantic walk with Stanwyck up to the bow of the boat where they could stand in the wind took a humorous turn. I expected them to climb up with their arms outstretched and shout how they were kings of the whatever.
Written and directed by Preston Sturges, this film had plenty of good scenes. The best line of the whole film had to be, “They say a moonlit deck is a woman’s business office.” And every businesswoman needs a great wardrobe. This was Edith Head’s first movie to design gowns for Stanwyck.
Fonda’s character was painted to be a dimwitted dude. Not bright enough to see what is right in front of him – twice. As a ophiologist, he should’ve been able to see her clearly enough. But he didn’t. Poor guy.
Even though the guy was seen as naïve and gullible, I have to believe he was just playing dumb. He had to be on to her scam. I have to see him as heroic when he risks being bitten a second time by the same snake. The happy ending briefly showed him trusting her enough to give her a second chance, which made him a hero in her eyes.