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What a genius Joseph L Manckiewicz was. A literary script that is totally accessible. A melodrama for the thinking man. A film that is as engrossing and entertaining every time you see it. Bette Davis touches all the raw nerves of her mythological career. Anne Baxter never went this far. Thelma Ritter became a sort of icon. Marilyn Monroe gives us a preview of forthcoming attractions as a graduated from the "Copacabana" academy of dramatic arts. Celeste Holm represents us, all of us and George Sanders creates a prototype for a cultured monster that is immediately recognizable. I don't recall another film in which the nature of selfishness is so wittily dissected. A total triumph.
I had read comments about the quality of the writing in this film but I
really had no idea to what extent this would elevate the experience. The
fact is, it leaves me with no other choice than to give it a perfect 10.
Unless you see this film, I don't think you'll have the necessary frame of
reference with which to to base any expectations on. It's an incredibly
engrossing, moving and often comedic experience, but time and time again
what knocks you over is the absolute finesse with which this script was
crafted. The fact that the acting and direction are flawless and
surprisingly natural-seeming (most old movies usually seem stiff or people
seem to "act" too much) only enhances it that much more. With this film,
you can really imagine the *people* the actors are portraying.
"All About Eve" shows some similarity to one of my other favourite 50s films "A Face in the Crowd". Both are studies of fame and celebrity. Eve shows how a person will corrupt themselves in order to attain it, whereas A Face's premise is that fame corrupts those who find themselves in the spotlight. Both have themes that are perhaps even more resonant in our celebrity-obsessed culture now than when they were made. Interestingly, Eve predates A Face by several years.
And possibly most interesting of all is the honest and often raw way in which women are portrayed, the strength of their character and the power they wield. The male contingent is practically relegated to the back seat. One might be hard pressed to find a movie quite so "liberated" today. So what more can I say? If you love movies and you haven't yet seen it, you've suffered long enough; don't wait another day.
All About Eve is simply the perfect film. Fact follows fiction in the casting of Bette Davis, a star who was an incredible actress but fighting the inevitable - the passage of time. First off, Better Davis was always an incredible actress, no matter what part she took and this was the perfect part for her. Anne Baxter is tremendous in the part of Eve - she plays the part well. It's multi-faceted and challenging and she definitely rose to the challenge. Celeste Holm is great, too. She's got a smaller part but does a great job with it. Celeste Holm is an actress who has incredible stature, even in the later years of her career, like when she was in that television show "Promised Land." But Addison DeWitt - takes the cake. I can see why he won the Oscar. I don't want to say much about the story. The film is one that has to be taken in as a whole to be truly appreciated. Enjoy it - it's as tasty as honey! One thing - please never let them make a re-make of this film - it's perfect. It's off limits. It would be painting a new version of the Mona Lisa. This one is perfect!
THE definitive saga of backstage brouhaha ever dished out by Hollywood. A
triumph of screen-writing, never will one see such ripe, acrid dialogue
spewed out like this again -- every indelible scene gloriously stained
classic one-liners. An actress wanna-be looking for her big break
worms her way into the glamorous life of a legendary Broadway star, then
tries to supplant her privately and professionally.
A sterling, incandescent cast provides the fire and music to this concerto of theatre attitude. Bette Davis knew she was handed a dream role when she was cast as Margo Channing, the indomitable diva caught up in the throes of mid-life crisis both on- and off-stage. Not willing at all to deal with it tactfully, she makes life a living hell for anyone within knife-throwing distance. This juicy, once-in-a-lifetime part turned Davis' own flagging middle-aged career back on its feet, especially coming on the heels of one of her biggest "dumps" ever, "Beyond the Forest." Remarkable as it may seem, Bette was not the first choice here, replacing an injured Claudette Colbert. With all due respect to Colbert, Bette Davis was BORN to play Margo Channing. A mauling lioness one minute, a coy, declawed pussycat the next, Davis relishes every wickedly bitchy scene she gets to tear into. Yet in her more introspective moments, she evokes real sympathy for Margo (as only a true star can) especially when her character missteps. It's a resounding victory for the Queen Bee in every way, shape and form.
Her "supporting cast" also manage to create a buzz of excitement. Gary Merrill and Hugh Marlowe, known for their relative blandness, are splendid here in their respective roles as queen bee's lover and playwright. While Merrill's Bill Sampson tames Margo the woman with gutsy directness and virile passion, Marlowe's Lloyd Richards appeases Margo the star with flattery, great dialogue and a calm resolve. Worth watching, then, are their fireworks scenes with Margo when intelligence and restraint no longer work. Debonair George Sanders gives customary snob appeal and dry cynicism to his waspish, ultimately loathsome columnist Addison DeWitt, who swarms around Broadway's elite knowledgeable in the fact his lack of heart and poison pen yield exclusive rights and power. The most sensitive and sensible one in the collective bunch, the one lacking a true stinger, is Karen Richards (played wonderfully by Celeste Holm), Margo's best friend and confidante, who finds herself caught between the queen and a hard place when she accidentally makes a pact with the devil. Thelma Ritter couldn't be overlooked if she tried. An inveterate scene-stealer, she weathers strong competition this time in a movie crammed with clever conversation and pungent zingers. As coarse but well-meaning Birdie Coonan, a brash ex-vaudevillian now the queen's ever-loyal "drone", Ritter's character properly handles her boss's antics with amusing grit and backbone. On the periphery of this Broadway beehive is mop-faced Gregory Ratoff as an edgy, gullible, thick-accented producer, Marilyn Monroe as a hopelessly vacuous starlet, and Barbara Bates, as a novice schemer with a very bright future, all making their few scenes count -- especially Bates, who is forever enshrined in the film's stunning final shot.
The chief thorn in Margo's (and everybody's) side, and the other real star of this picture, is the queen's titular lady-in-waiting, Eve Harrington. As played by Anne Baxter, this role is probably the most delicate and difficult of all for the weight and believability of this drama falls squarely on her shoulders. Unfairly overlooked all these years by the flashier posturings of Davis, Baxter does a beautiful job of drawing initial pathos then panic as she slowly unveils her own lethal stinger. By film's end, Baxter is directly on par with her scenery-chewing co-star. Killer to killer. Champion to champion.
Six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director (Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Best Screenplay (also Mankiewicz) and Supporting Actor (George Sanders) went to this cinematic bon mot. Had Bette Davis and Anne Baxter not competed as Best Actress (Baxter refused to place herself in the Supporting Actress category), it would have drummed up two more awards to be sure.
Developing a faithful cult following over the years, this film deserves to be on everybody's "top ten" list.
What can you say about a film like this? It has one of the greatest screenplays ever written, fabulous directing, and sensational performances by Anne Baxter, Bette Davis and George Sanders. And on top of it all, it's got Marilyn Monroe! What more could you want?!? It's full of snappy dialogue, great one liners, and a realistic and interesting plot. The epitome of good movie making. Oh, if only today's filmmakers were forced to watch All About Eve before they were allowed to make their own!
The ambitious Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) gets close to the great and
temperamental stage artist Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and her friends
Karen Richards (Celeste Holm) and her husband, the play-writer Lloyd
Richards (Hugh Marlowe); her boyfriend and director Bill Sampson (Gary
Marrow); and the producer Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff). Everybody,
except the cynical critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), believe that
Eve is only a naive, humble and simple obsessed fan of Margo and they
try to help her. However, Eve is indeed a cynical and manipulative
snake that uses the lives of Margo and her friends to reach her
objectives in the theater business.
"All About Eve" is a magnificent timeless tale of ambition, manipulation and betrayal, and certainly one of the best classics ever. Everything perfectly works in this movie: the direction is very precise and tight; dialogs are very acid and intelligent; Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders and Celeste Holm have awesome performances in very powerful characters; the dramatic story is amazingly good, showing what an evil person can plot to reach fame and success. I believe this movie will always be among my ten favorite movies ever. My vote is ten.
Title (Brazil): "A Malvada" ("The Wicked")
In show business, there is probably an Eve Harrington born every day.
Someone who butters up to a performer of note, acting innocently, revealing
none of the coldhearted ambition they really have. Anne Baxter plays this
type of person to a tee. She looks like a baby-faced fan, but little do we
know, there is a fame machine at work in her mind. Bette Davis, as Margo
Channing, star of the stage, is a veteran who has seen it all. She is quite
the egotist. Margo is a brilliant actress and she knows it. Eve discovers
her blind spot and moves in on her like a quiet storm. This is the premise
of ALL ABOUT EVE, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's masterpiece of sly wit and subtle
manipulation. Mankiewicz also wrote the picture (winner of the Best Picture
Oscar of 1950) with such skill, the talented cast need only to memorize the
lines and deliver them with the proper technique.
The performances are great, regardless, especially by Bette Davis and the always detested George Sanders, one of my favorite actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The film is narrated initially by Sanders, who plays a ruthless swine of a theatre critic, then by Celeste Holm, the wife of Eve and Margo's playwrighter, then Bette Davis in the performance of a lifetime. The movie is about 90% dialogue, much like a play. The words are so crisp and sharp, you never sway or lose interest. These characters are just too interesting. Bette Davis has a cavalcade of unforgettable dialogue. "Fasten your seatbelts. Its going to be a bumpy night!" This is the one everyone remembers, but I would be remiss to get into any others.
The picture runs well over 2 hours, but it doesn't seem like enough. Mankiewicz could've held a seminar of screenwriting by showing this. George Sanders is the only actor of the roster to bring home an Academy Award, and rumor has it Davis and Baxter, who was just 27 at the time, were feuding during much of the shoot and lusted the Oscar. Time has been very good to the film as well. 1950 was a wonderful year for movies and ALL ABOUT EVE's artistic equal that year was the equally well-written SUNSET BOULEVARD, which took us behind the scenes of a tainted Hollywood. EVE takes on theatre and treats Hollywood like an afterthought. There are many references to the film industry, usually involving the scenes with Margo Channing's boyfriend, who is attempting to make a career on the silver screen.
The movie is highly unpredictable, especially the last scenes which tie the ideas of the story up. There is an Eve everywhere and each character gets what he or she deserves. Fasten the belts and listen up. This is screenwriting at its finest.
You will see yourself in every character in this very intelligent,
entrancing movie. Though set in "the theatre," the story could just as
easily have been told in a small town, a corporation even a religious
organization. Being set in the "glamorous" world of entertainment its
seems all the more timely in these days of fame, fortune and the
insufficiency (almost shame) of being ordinary. The theatre setting
also underscores the reality that the world is a stage, and all its
So much to study in this movie: the genuine, trusting (and romantic) human; the streetwise, good, hardworking human, who's seen it all and doesn't embrace it; the jaded, heart-hardened, deceitful loser with power, who admires the same and disdains human goodness; the ambitious sociopath who fools so many; the unsuspecting onlookers who see only the façade of success; the inescapable fact that supreme achievement has been had by very low characters; the painful passage of an aging woman into the light of knowing she's loved for being beautiful beyond her appearance, for being HER; the touching portrayal of her lover who remembers his love for her as he passes on a much younger, beautiful, talented actress; the sorrow of a (betraying) friend who discovers the frightened and lonely heart of her successful friend The dialogue is sharp and clever, barked and growled, smarmy and tender A truly human movie about being human. Go find yourself in everyone!
All About Eve is an excellent film in every aspect. The 14 Oscar nominations, and six wins, testify to this. For 47 years EVE held the record for most nominations -- in 1997 Titanic matched the 14 nominations. Bette Davis was awarded the New York Critics Award once in her 58 year career -- and it was for this film. Marilyn Monroe, Thelma Ritter and Celeste Holms gave terrific supporting performances while Anne Baxter kept up with the great Bette every frame of the way. It was Bette's eighth nomination, and sixth loss; Judy Holiday won for Born Yesterday, beating two legends -- Gloria Swanson was also nominated that year for Sunset Blvd. All About Eve was the first film to be released after Bette ended her 18 years with Warner Brothers. For a moment she was back on top of the world, only to find disappointment throughout the 50's with choices and offerings in Hollywood. The writing by Mankiewicz and supporting performance by George Saunders would alone make the film worth viewing -- A NEAR PEFECT FILM!
Here's perfect writing if ever a movie ever had it-where did Joseph L. Mankiewicz come up with these people? Who would have thought he could not only revive Bette Davis' career with her greatest-ever role, but actually make her even more fascinating than she ever was before? Davis plays famous and established actress Margo Channing, a self-centred and tough but vulnerable woman who is purused relentlessly by Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a seemingly innocent woman who worships Channing-she even becomes her personal assistant. However, her devotion soon becomes sinister, and Margo lets her friends know, though they just think she's being selfish and unfair. Celeste Holm is excellent as Margo's best friend, who at first is on Eve's side but eventually sees how conniving Eve can be and how ruthless she is in climbing to the top. The party scene early on in the film features some of the film's best lines (`Fasten your seat belts it's going to be a bumpy night!'), though my personal favourite is when Davis tells Baxter to put her award `where you heart should be'; Margo Channing is just about the best female character of the fifties. Features Marilyn Monroe in an early role.
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