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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for All About Eve can be found here.
All About Eve is based on a short story, 'The Wisdom of Eve', written by American author Mary Orr [1910-2006]. It was first published in Cosmopolitan magazine in May 1946. After Orr dramatized the story as a radio play, it came to the attention of screenwriter and director Joseph Mankiewicz, and he and producer Darryl F. Zanuck agreed to turn it into a movie. All About Eve won the 1951 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.
German/Austrian actress Elisabeth Bergner has been named by author Mary Orr as well as by director Joseph Mankiewicz, as the inspiration for the character of Margo Channing. As reported in The New York Times (1 October, 2000) and in Vanity Fair (April, 1999), Bergner recounted an incident to Orr in which a would-be Eve Harrington, a young actress calling herself Martina Lawrence (after a character played on stage by Bergner), stood outside the stage door for months wearing a red coat. Orr: "The girl lied to her, deceived her, did things behind her back, and even went after her husband..."
The actual contents of the letter were not explained. Most diehard All About Eve fans think that it was a love letter from Bill (Gary Merrill) that Margo (Bette Davis) had been carrying around for some time. Bill said that it bored him, which fans have interpreted as meaning that it was old hat in his eyes. Margo then realizes that she need not hold on to the letter any longer because Bill knows how she feels about him, so she tosses it.
Eve (Anne Baxter) gives her oh-so-touching acceptance speech at the awards banquet (the same one in the opening scenes) and then decides that she doesn't want to attend the after-awards party being thrown for her. She returns to her suite at the P&B, lays her jeweled cape on the bed and then goes into the sitting room to fix herself a drink. Suddenly, she notices a young woman asleep in a chair and picks up the telephone, intending to call the police. The girl introduces herself as Phoebe (Barbara Bates) from Brooklyn and explains that she only sneaked into Eve's apartment because, as president of her school's Eve Harrington Fan Club, she wanted to interview Eve and do a report on how the real Eve Harrington lives. Feeling tired and bored, Eve collapses on the couch and chats with Phoebe. The doorbell rings and Phoebe answers it for Eve. It is Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), dropping off the award that Eve left in the taxi. Phoebe recognizes Addison immediately, and he notices the same hungry look on her face that he saw in Eve when she was plotting Margo Channing's downfall. Addison tells Phoebe that, if she wants to get an award like that someday, she should ask Miss Harrington how to get it because Miss Harrington knows all about it. When Eve later asks Phoebe who was at the door, Phoebe tells her it was just the taxi driver returning the award that she left in the cab. She then goes into Eve's bedroom to place it on the trunk that Eve is packing for her move to Hollywood. Seeing Eve's jeweled cape on the bed, Phoebe puts it on. Holding the award in front of her, Phoebe practices bowing in front of the mirror.
The money-grubbing Veda Forrester (Ann Blyth) in Mildred Pierce (1945) should be enough to raise your hankles. Many find Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) in Gone with the Wind (1939) to be infuriating, although some viewers say that they feel sorry for her at the end. Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) in Network (1976) is also high on a lot of many detestometers. More recently, Drew Barrymore played the scheming and contemptible Ivy in Poison Ivy (1992). As far as TV series go, few other characters have been able to surpass Livia (Siân Phillips) from I, Claudius in ruthlessness and lust for personal power, with perhaps the notable exception of Atia (Polly Walker) from Rome.
DeWitt is a drama critic with an air of condescending superiority, and he would probably enjoy the idea of being a villain more than being a 'good' character, but the truth is that he does some things that benefit the characters we sympathize with, while sticking it to Eve. After Eve makes her triumphant stage debut, he interviews her and prints exactly what she says, apparently not caring if it will hurt anyone else. However, he knows something is fishy and secretly checks out Eve's story, discovering that virtually all of it is phony. Rather than simply exposing her and humiliating her, he uses this info to blackmail her into becoming his lover. Thus, his actions are done for pure self-interest. However, if he ever blurted out his secrets about Eve to a willing interviewer, her career would be ruined and her former friends (who are practically everyone else in the movie) would have the upper hand and would love to see her "go down". So it could be argued that he is willing to help them if it suits him.
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