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It is a well written movie and I am saying so because even though I have seen a lot of movies but I was never sure as to how the character of Eve will turn out. It was so very well sugar coated that the coating felt like the real crust of the character. It was all about Eve but Bette Davis had the strongest character in the movie, her performance in the party scene towards the middle of the movie is the most enjoyable part of the movie since that's when all the characters in the movie come into one frame and you can see the real dynamism between them all. The movie moves fast for a drama based movie and there is hardly a weak link in the movie. So enjoy!
All About Eve came out in 1950, the same year as Sunset Boulevard,
Billy Wilder's subversive portrayal of Hollywood and its actors.
Mankiewicz was equally scathing in his look at the world of Broadway
stage, portraying the mythical ruthlessness and petulance of stage
actors. Both were big hits, and All About Eve was nominated for a
record fourteen Oscars, winning six, including Best Picture, Best
Director, and Best Writing. It's the best film about theatre that I've
seen, also happening to say more about the film industry too. Sunset
Boulevard might be the film about stars that dwell in the glory days of
the past and live in self-delusion, but All About Eve shows how they
got like that.
Like Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve tells its story in the form of a flashback. It all kicks off with the presentation of a prestigious stage-acting award to the eponymous Eve Harrington, accompanied by the commentary of theatre critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders). He introduces us to the players in the world of Broadway before we go 9 months back in history before Eve was a star. The film then charts the story Eve and how she has wormed her way into the acting clan. She does so by getting into a circle of theatre friends around an aging (and insecure about it) actress Margo Channing, whom she attempts to be a protégé of, using her a persona of friendliness and self-deprecation to mask a sinister plan of getting to the top.
All About Eve is an absolute treat in terms of acting. The role of the older actress, Margo Channing, was considered for a range of in-form actresses, from Gertrude Lawrence (wanted script changes that the director did not), Susan Hayward (too young), Claudette Colbert (pulled out back injury), Marlene Dietrich (Mankiewicz didn't love her), and Ingrid Bergman (would not leave Italy) before Bette Davis was finally chosen. And it's the role of her lifetime, playing a character that ran only too true a brilliant actress, but one who felt her time was running out. Bette Davis knew she was handed a dream role when she was cast as the resolute diva caught up in the throes of mid-life crisis both on- and off-stage, and she's amazing her in performance. She's selfish and tough yet at the same time, vulnerable and insecure. Getting suspicious about her increasingly distrustful follower Eve, Margo lets her friends know that she doesn't trust her, though they, taken to Eve's put-on niceness, disagree, mistaking her fear for jealousy and harshness. Not willing to resolve the problem in a dignified way, Margo goes on a rampage and has a go at anyone who comes near her. Bette Davis was born to play Margo Channing and, in my opinion, is even better than Swanson in Sunset Blvd. She can be a catty cow or a coy pussycat, and Davis loves every scene she gets to tear into. At the same time, however, she evokes real sympathy for Margo. The film may be titled All About Eve, but Margo is and always will be the real star of the movie.
Her supporting cast are to die for. Celeste Holm is excellent as Margo's sensible best friend, who at first is on Eve's side but eventually sees how conniving she can be and how ruthless she is in climbing to the top. When she took on the narration, I just got the feeling that things would turn out alright for Margo. She's the closest character to any of the audience throughout the movie, as, she is pretty much a spectator herself. Gary Merrill and Hugh Marlowe are a joy in their respective roles as Margo's boyfriend and playwright. George Sanders plays his trademark role as the cad with such cynicism and unfriendliness that it's no wonder he bagged the Oscar. As the diabolical theatre critic, he has some of the best lines of the movie. Thelma Ritter again proves why she is the best supporting player in the biz - as coarse but loyal Birdie Coonan, a member of Margo's "drone". Anne Baxter is pretty good as the sneaky Eve, though obviously my opinion of her performance is tainted by the fact that I despise her character (realistic as it was). There's even space for a Marylin Monroe cameo, in which she steals the show in the dumb-blonde role that she would carry for the rest of her acting life.
All About Eve's screenplay is another one of its assets. Written by director Joseph L. Mankiewicz from the Mary Orr play "The Wisdom of Eve," it features strong characters and great dialogue that is witty, bitching and biting. Despite its running time, at nearly 2 and a half hours, it never drags on. Each of the characters are so perfectly drawn, you could imagine them doing things just like that in the 50s. Femininity, aging, betrayal, manipulation and ambition are just a few of the themes touched upon in All About Eve. It's funny, but it's also a lot cleverer than it looks. It's got melodrama, yet somehow never goes over the top. All About Eve takes the age-old story of a young performer buttering up an old one, with the intention of usurping them, but makes it into something new, something utterly brilliant. Not to be missed.
Another AFI film off the list. Watching All About Eve, lots of things
I'd heard over the years clicked and made sense. I heard the classic
line, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night" I finally
saw a Mankiewicz film, who I'd heard about for quite some time
(Although I may have seen The Virginian) And last but not least, I
realized why All About Eve was listed AFI's Heroes & Villains list, and
Anne Baxter put in a near-perfect performance as the title character, playing Eve with just the right amount of subtlety and charisma. I also really liked Bette Davis in the role of Margo Channing. I was reminded of Gloria Swanson's chilling performance as Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd. Both characters are obsessed with their own stardom and have a desire to control their surroundings. (Both films also have similar beginnings as well) Ironically, both films were released in the same year.
For a film that relies predominantly on dialogue between the many characters to tell the story, I was surprisingly engaged throughout. This is proof that you don't need action to tell an entertaining story.
All About Eve also has another ending that I really liked and fit the story perfectly in a circular manner. This is definitely a film worth watching.
ALL ABOUT EVE is a brilliant masterpiece of a film that is unique in that it is so cinematic, but its emphasis is on the word rather than the image. That makes the film more like a play than a movie-- and ironically the story is the best movie about ambition, and Broadway stage actors ever made. This is probably the wittiest, the bitchiest screenplay ever written! This is also Bette Davis' best performance in a movie. (What a blessed but ill-timed coincidence for her that Gloria Swanson was creating the spectacular Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD the very same year- and then that neither actress won the Oscar that year as they cancelled each other out in the voting!)The whole cast is wonderful! I can watch this film again and again. It is a genuine masterpiece!
I am aware that there are people who rags on older movies gaining their
reputation because they are old, because they are "classics", rather
than their quality, and I agree there are some movies that have gained
a higher reputation than they should.
All About Eve is a movie that doesn't carry the hype or household name status as some movies like Kane, On the Waterfront, etc., it quietly sits back with it's record amount of Oscar nominations and full acclaim among movie circles as a treasure of cinema.
But the scary thing about All About Eve is that it IS that good, and more. Not only in the way it portrays the rise and fall of being a star and the places people will go to achieve it, but in it's vividness of how the entire thing is played out, to the screenplay, direction, delivery, twists.
I've never seen a Betty Davis movie before, but she is INCREDIBLE in this film, one of the best female performances in any movie, ever. Anne Baxter as the conniving title character with hidden intentions and hidden qualities to her character is also dead on, and I believe either could've been a deserving winner in their year they hadn't cancelled each other out. Celeste Holm as a playwright side character, George Sanders as a poisonous writer, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, all light up the screen. The screenplay as mentioned is incredibly vivid and intriguing, the direction and set design of Broadway is electric.
All About Eve is the definition of flawless, and one of the movies of it's breed that lives up to all the acclaim and reputation it's gotten.
A+ Review posted by Julien R. at www.boxofficefanatic.com
In 1950 there were two great satirical melodramas aiming for the Best
Picture statuette. The one that walked away triumphant was this mordant
examination of theatrical backstabbing, while Billy Wilder's majestic
masterpiece Sunset Boulevard was left empty-handed.
While perhaps falling just short of the latter's sweeping splendor, this scabrous classic still stands high on the list of the greatest films of all time.
With a heaven-sent script packed with sharp dialogue and biting one-liners, and blessed with a raft of terrific performances, most memorable Bette Davis' aging actress Margo Channing, this sparkles with multi-layered brilliance.
Also to look out for is an early appearance by Marilyn Monroe as an actress so bad she 'might as well have been riding a pogo stick for all the difference it would have made'.
If only all films could be this good.
Not only of Academy Awards, but also of the 'classic films about
theater' awards. One of the best films ever made, featuring hundreds of
quotable lines, which I'll spare you, this is a wordfest that you'll
want to watch again and again because it's so rich. Bette Davis is
argueably at her best, and Marilyn Monroe makes one of her first film
appearances. The less you know about this film going into it the better-
just rent it! .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had heard a lot about All About Eve but I had not ever seen the film.
I thought this film lived up to all that I heard about it. The
performances by Bette Davis as Margo, Celeste Holm as Karen and Anne
Baxter as Eve are incredible. Their performances are effortless. The
main theme of this film is doing anything to get what you want. This is
back-stabbing at its best. Eve gets herself entrenched into Eve's life
and slowly takes over. The only person to see her for what she is in
the beginning is Birdie, played superbly by Thelma Ritter, who is Eve's
assistant. She makes people feel sorry for her and then uses them to
get what she wants. Karen is put into the middle of the trouble when
Margo starts to see Eve for what she is. Karen ends up betraying Margo,
unintentionally, and gives Eve the big break she has been looking for.
She ends up making a pact with Eve to help Margo but Margo saves her
from being beholden to her. This film uses lighting to help with the
theme. In the beginning of the film Eve is shown in soft light-almost
as if the lighting was filtered. Margo, on the other hand, is shown in
a harsher light. This is to show Margo's age and to emphasize that Eve
is the younger of the two and that Margo is reaching a crossroads in
her career as far as age goes. . As the film goes on I noticed Margo
looking softer and Eve looking harder. At the end Margo is seated at
the awards dinner looking happy and when we see Eve in her hotel room
she looks hard and unhappy.
Dialogs role in the theme is evident in much of the same way. In the beginning Margo is brash and a little vulgar while Eve's dialog is sweet, almost saintly. She talks about how she was married to someone in the navy and is widowed and how the play Margo is staring in is the only thing that got her out of the house. She uses the same type of dialog, showing herself as naive and only wanting to help Margo, as she establishes herself. Margo becomes bitterer in her dialog. The scene that best showcases this is at Bills birthday party that Eve arranged. She drinks too much and let's out all that she thinks about Eve. This scene is important to the film because it is through this that Eve gains the sympathy of Bill, Lloyd and Karen. This scene also has one of the all time greatest lines in film "Fasten your seat-belts, it's going to be a bumpy night!" which was said by Margo at the beginning of the party.
Compared to the rough and tumble, dime-a-dozen action movies you see
everyday, you'd think that All About Eve would be boring. The action is
little, and it's all interiors and upper class hangouts. Yet, it isn't
boring. This movie bites. It's screenplay keeps the action crisp, and
every character is bad and/or totally helpless, just more proof that no
matter how well-bred or famous you are, you are nothing more than
animal trying to win your way in the world.
The story is basic. Eve Harrington is a sweet, looking, homespun girl from the Mid-west who is given a chance by her idol, the sarcastic, always smoking and drinking Margo Channing. Little by little, this girl is revealed to be more than innocent. Instead, she is a cruel and malicious girl who uses everything from cheap tricks to blackmail to get her way. She isolates Margo from her friends (Mr. Lloyd Richards the playwright and his wife Karen Richards who unwittingly helps Eve before realizing her true self)and steal both Margo and Karen's fiancé (Bill Sampson) and husband, respectively, from them.
The only people who see through this girl's act is Margo's maid, the tough-talking Birdie, and the critic Addison DeWitt who is every bit the demon under the guise of a cultured man. Addison DeWitt eventually blackmails Eve into his service, ultimately getting the best of her, before another "starstruck" kid comes to steal eve's limelight, and the cycle begins again.
The plot seems basic, but the screenplay makes it fresh as morning dew. There are more biting one-liners in five minutes of this film than in every film of the past ten years. Margo, who realizes Eve's actions thanks to Birdie, but is helpless to prevent them, quickly starts gnawing at Eve. Her constant drinking seems to make her all the sharper. She would be called nowadays a b***h, she treats everyone else like filth due to her own basic insecurities. She insults, nags, tear down, yet we see this woman is just desperate to be more than just a name on a poster. Bette Davis gives this woman more depth than you can believe.
Eve Harrington is a spiteful soul. She was never loved, and she is incapable of loving. She knows only to get on by way of tricks and smoke and mirrors. Anne Baxter plays her with excellence. She is the perfect villainess. George Saunders plays Addison DeWitt with much the same force, but his sentences whipcrack in the air, and he can leave even the worst people defenseless and vulnerable with the sheer power of language.
Celeste Holm plays Karen, docile, sweet, wanting to help this poor backward girl to get on, before finding herself in Margo's position. This character seems useless, but she is so nice and out-of-place in this world of backstage backstabbing that you want to help her. The three main men apart from Addison, Mr. Richards, Bill Sampson and Max Fabian (the producer) are played well, but not as well as the women.
The other two roles are Birdie, played by the wonderful Thelma Ritter, and Miss Caswell, played by a very young Marilyn Monroe. Both do their roles excellently and add another facet to this multi-layered film.
The costumes, make-up, music, sets, all add up to create this wonderful 40s New York atmosphere.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A quite fascinating incite into literally backstage performances of
actors and their careers.
They say "write what you know about", and I'm sure the whole cast & crew that made this film, could relate to at least some parts of the story. Very character based and subtle in parts, a great study of the politics, inner workings & motivations of people and their careers.
Anne Baxter manages to eventually dominate this film, even though persistently giving a meek, almost irritating performance, cleverly masking her ultimate intent.
I guess Davis seems to be pretty much playing herself, still there's plenty strong indications, signs and a genuine empathy from her part. I also liked the party scenes which managed to give another dimension to another type of "performance" from all involved.
At least 5 or 6 characters juggle the required balance to this film, all seeming individual and understandable which I think must be very hard to achieve.
There's a lot to this film and I'll probably see more into it if I watch it again, it's so full of intricacies. Not a full on macho-action flick, but an absolutely gripping plot & character based study into the ultimately changing position of people within their careers.
A brilliant example of a very well made film from people with a clear understanding of how to do their bit best, for the greater cause.
Watch out for an early appearance from Marilyn Monroe.
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