All About Eve (1950)
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"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.
Wonderful performances all-around from Davis to Anne Baxter to Gary Merrill, to Celeste Holm, to Thelma Ritter to Marilyn Monroe, even. It contains crisp, witty dialogue that just isn't heard in movies anymore.
A true classic indeed.
Margo Channing, aging theatre star and prima donna, is introduced by her friend Karen to Eve, an apparently obsessed young fan. Eve has a tragic story to tell and is taken under the wings of Margo and Karen. But the movie makes clear from the start that Eve is not what she seems, and soon she is causing ripples in the lives of both older women. Ripples that grow into whirlpools.
The script is a gem, funny and very clever, full of lines like this:
Lloyd Richards: You've developed a certain cynicism since you've been married to me. Karen Richards: I developed that cynicism the day I discovered I was different from little boys.
Characters frequently trade lines like barbed arrows, but it's not all dazzling wit: there's plenty of fascinating insights into the characters' personalities, and also a couple of rather chilling moments, when a lot of tension that has built up gets released. It's both a brilliant satire and a compelling drama.
The actors are all excellent, with Bette Davis as Margo and Anne Baxter as Eve standing out. Davis gives Margo real depth: she's a complex mix of ego and insecurity, warmth and venom. Baxter is pitch-perfect as Eve: just a little too sweet, just a bit too modest. It's a performance of a performance. Both got Oscar nominations for Best Actress (the movie recieved 12 and won 6, including Best Picture). There's also a glittering cameo by Marilyn Monroe. She was not famous yet, but somehow, despite the classy actors around her, she draws the eye in every scene she's in.
Go and track it down. It's worth the effort.
There is so much to dwell on with this film--the direction, the script (zingers flying so thick and fast it would take years and about 100 viewings to get them all straight, much less memorise them!), its clever themes. What makes it stand out, though, really is the cast that was assembled to bring it to the screen. Bette Davis never gave a finer performance than her Margo Channing here--at times shrewish and a harlot, at others vulnerable and little more than a child. Who could have pulled it off but her? Ann Baxter too does fine, subtle work as the Eve of the title: it's a difficult role to pull off with the proper complexity that will allow for varying interpretations of the character. Baxter manages it. The supporting cast is fine as well, Celeste Holm (almost unrecognisable from her turn in 'High Society') as the gullible good friend Karen; Gary Merrill playing Margo's paramour to great and believable effect; and yes, the Oscar-winning George Sanders as the ultimate slimeball, Addison DeWitt. And who could forget Marilyn Monroe in her small part? She glitters--all "fire and magic"--even in the ten minutes of screen time she has.
A fine, fine film--one of the best of the backstage films Hollywood was so fond of producing. Brilliant writing, with the story told through interspersed different points of view. Great observation, as well, of some of the things that make women, especially career women, tick. Yes, it *is* somewhat sexist, with the claim that whatever career a female has, she must ultimately work at being a *woman*. It's not a belaboured point though, thank goodness. In the final analysis, ALL ABOUT EVE is definitely a classic film that truly deserves the label of 'classic'.
My rate 9/10
I'm not surprised. I am pleasantly surprised that men and women
rate it highly overall. I'm sure that those same youth will appreciate
the film when they view it as adults. Why? This is one of the best
studies of the fair gender ever made into a movie. Each of the
major feminine personality traits is displayed in detail, inside of
the metaphor for civilization: theater. The examination of 'Adam's'
relationship with 'Eve' is just as accurate. All contained within a
well-acted and entertaining story. An amazing summary of human
nature; to watch this movie is to watch ourselves. Bravo.
Cambodia), and Woody Allen (Play it Again Sam) there was the self-referenced and self-absorbed All About Eve. Nothing is as it seems in the miasma of ego, posturing, deception and self-promotion. A deliciously savage self-commentary, and none escapes unscathed.
My own connection to this film is when Eve, after clawing her way to the top, actually just forgets the actual award in the taxi. I did an analogous faux pas when I won an award at a stodgy trade convention, I left the trophy (and about a month's salary) on the tables of an establishment where women disrobed in
exotic fashion. I was saved embarrassment by one of the dancers running the thing out to my taxi as we were pulling away.
Movies related to Hollywood careers and young people's passion for it is often portrayed in movies, but this one is totally awesome. Movie start a little slowly and takes up a gradual progress and eventually becomes really interesting. There is something in this movie that keep you interested. Script and Dialogues are well written and best played. Apart from enjoyment there is something to learn also. Careers in glamor world aren't a piece of cake. There are all about guts you got other than your talent, and thats All about Eve. Watch it fellas!!
Also see this Movie 'Todo Sabre Mi Madre' if you like this one.
Two things make the difference: (1) the gongoristic script, and (2) the glistening performances.
You've never heard such dialog. "You're maudlin and full of self pity. You're magnificent." But a thousand examples wouldn't do the script justice because it's all of a piece. It was written -- some might argue aptly "overwritten" -- by Joe Mankewitz and directed by him as well. For a few years he was all over the place, but he never turned out anything else like this film. Nobody could. It's unique.
All of the performances are adequate and most of them are more than that. I had a little trouble with the Eve Harrington character, played by Ann Baxter. She seemed out of her depth somehow, which was a shame because she's one of the central figures. She's a likable and attractive woman and the grand daughter of Frank Loyd Wright or somebody, which is all for the good, but her breathlessness limits her range. Hugh Marlowe is better than usual. Marilyn Monroe is indescribable and has some of the funniest lines. The rest of the cast is superb. Gary Merrill's baritone is reassuringly masculine. Bette Davis gives a Saturday Night Live imitation of Bette Davis with her broad gestures and husky voice projecting to the balconies. Celeste Holm is so damned sweetly likable without being a stunning beauty or a bravura actress. Her devotion to Davis is solid without being stolid, just what the role calls for. Perhaps best of all is George Sanders. Great name for the character too -- Addison DeWitt. Addison, as in "adder." Twice he's referred to as "venomous." Okay, the dialog and performances are overblown, but unashamedly overblown -- "I am once again available for dancing in the streets." Almost every line is equally juicy and ripe.
In a way, "All About Eve" is what used to be called a woman's picture -- all that jealousy and backstage intrigue revolving around publicity, age, beauty, and men. Davis has a rather lengthy stint of monologue in which she discuss womanhood as a career. And the men are, frankly, all dummies except for Sanders who may or may not be gay. I only mention the possibility because he's the only man who really understands what these babes are up to. The other men -- even the reassuringly baritoned Merrill -- are as manipulable as Play-Do, but not Sanders. He smirks with his secrets throughout the movie until he cashes his knowledge in at the end. Actually, without wanting to be accused of stereotyping, the movie should have a good deal of interest for the gay community. It's got all the icons. Bette Davis at her bitchiest, the fear of aging and losing one's beauty, the skewering insults, the toughness under the froth and lace.
I do kind of wish that Thelma Ritter hadn't disappeared half way through the movie, like King Lear's fool. I missed her a lot.
It's curious that the agents of social control objected to a scene in which Betty Davis smokes a cigarette in bed. It sets a dangerous example. There was some static too over Gregory Ratoff's eructation after a glass of baking soda. Presumably, this might set a bad example as well. Before you know it, everyone will be burping and even children will take up the filthy habit. And of course married couples had to be shown in twin beds. Curiously, there was never a peep out of the censors about the brutal beatings and lethal shootings that were everyday fare in films of the period. Smoking is out, but killing is okay.
Anyway, see this. There's nothing else quite like it, especially now, when the art of speech seems to have been pretty much lost in American movies. I can visualize it now, Mankewitz presenting this literate script to a committee of MBAs and having them brush it off -- "too talky."
Margo Channing is the crème de la crème of Broadway actresses. She gets awards, trophy husbands, and legions and legions of fans. As a matter of fact, one fan, one Eve Harrington, has seen every performance! Rather then shoo her away, her friend (played by Celeste Holm) encourages the two together. Soon, after a hoary sad-story about her husband dying and starting to go to the theater and discovering Channing, Channing decides to put the girl into her circle. But the warning signals soon come up, first from Margo's assistant, then Margo herself. But Eve is either too kind, or too manipulative, you're not really too sure for Margo to do anything about it, because she always seems to be two steps ahead of everyone else, again, you don't really know if by accident or by purpose. So this is all fun, Bette Davis is pulling her hair out over this, and Baxter is literally saying "What? What? What did I do?". Again, you're never sure if she's THAT naive or what, and that's what makes this film so much fun.
Scheming Eve Harrington insinuates herself into the life, and eventually the career, of aging actress Margo Channing. A vivid array of theatre types either help or hinder Eve as she rises to fame; they include Margo's younger boyfriend/director Bill, famous playwright Lloyd and his wife Karen, Margo's sharp-tongued maid, and influential critic Addison DeWitt. The characters are well-drawn, with many foibles; nearly everyone behaves stupidly or cruelly at least once.
The screenplay for "All About Eve" was based on a short story, and at times the film feels too literary or talky or stagy. Scenes tend to be long, as they are in stage plays, rather than short, as is usual in the movies. The camera work is fluid and competent, the lighting is bright and professional, but they lack that cinematic spark. Still, though, it's hard to say exactly how to change the screenplayit's full of witty observations about life and the theatre, which would be a shame to lose.
Bette Davis deserves all the praise she gets for this role, and the movie loses a lot when she's not in it (especially toward the end). I was struck by how she conveys Margo's larger-than- life personality, the "actress who can't stop performing," while also showing us Margo's real human needs. George Sanders is excellent as Addison DeWitt (was there ever a more perfectly named character?), gradually revealing the slime beneath his cultured persona. Thelma Ritter and Marilyn Monroe are great fun.
The character of Bill is supposed to be 32 years old, prompting 40-year-old Margo to fret about how she's losing her looks and dating a younger man. Gary Merrill acts the role of Bill well enough, but he looks at least as old as Bette Davis, making this plot line somewhat unbelievable. Celeste Holm and Hugh Marlowe, playing Karen and Lloyd, are unremarkable. And I still can't decide how I feel about Anne Baxter's performance in the major role of the manipulative Eve.
Though "All About Eve" has its flaws (I'll admit it, I prefer "Sunset Boulevard"), it's a smart movie, with an excellent script and some wonderful performances. Cynical and entertaining, it will make you wonder whether you know any modern-day "Eves".
Bette Davis is superb as an actress at the height of her fame. Anne Baxter shines as Eve, the enjenue who will stop at nothing to be in her idol's shoes.
The other performances are equally noteworthy--including a cameo by Marilyn Monroe, who was a mere starlet at the time.
The plot has many twists and turns, and the ending is very tongue-in-cheek. A nice way to wrap up this tale of a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, wrote and directed this film, the story of an ambitious actress's rise from glamor-struck girl in a theater alley to Broadway star. Mankiewicz has gathered up a saga of ambition and conceit, pride and deception and hypocrisy, that just about drains the subject dry. The self-seeking, ruthless Eve, who would make a black widow spider look like a ladybugis the motivating figure in the story and is played by Anne Baxter with icy calm, the focal figure and most intriguing character is the actress whom Bette Davis plays. This lady, an aging, acid creature with a cankerous ego and a stinging tongue, is the end-all of Broadway disenchantment, and Miss Davis plays her to the hilt.
The supporting cast is brilliant and includes award winning George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter, and Marilyn Monroe. It is easy to see why this was the Best Picture of 1950.
I will admit that this is my first Bette Davis film. I had never seen a performance by her before this film. I believe she has a mixture that always turns me on to an actor actress, a mesh of an extroverted, active, dynamic quality that allows them to act upon people and surroundings extremely quickly and with no inhibition and an intuitive, deeply emotional characteristic that may even negate the shallow emotional characteristic of the aforementioned quality, revealing a penetrating insight into people. Davis conveys this in the least challenging and most entertaining way, which is by playing herself, which is perfectly fine by those who judge that sort of thing because that is truly what was required of the role. She is not the light-refracting beauty one expected from a star actress in the silver screen era, but I believe she was still an untouchable star not only because of pure confidence but confidence so solid that one like Joan Crawford who would attempt to tamper with it would be thrown back as if it were a forcefield. What presence she has.
Anne Baxter plays the title character, a character who is supposed to be Bette's match. As an actress, Baxter could never match Bette. Where Bette is completely natural in every way on screen, Baxter is not at all. Baxter looks and feels staged to us, because she endlessly stares off into nothing whenever she is speaking, and no matter how interesting she makes her monologue, she still unrealistically stares, and sometimes leans, into space. However, her saving grace is how beautifully she executed the very difficult and tricky role she played. Eve is a person who can never appear to be doing what other characters suspect that she's doing, and even more, she can never appear to be the sort of person that would ever feel inclined to do what they suspect that she is doing. She is the most secretive sort of mysterious personality, quite insightfully captured by the screenplay, which I once again complement, and also fleshed out very effectively by Anne Baxter, who despite her hopeless overtheatrical habits completely becomes Eve.
The cast is consistently great. Celeste Holm as a playwright's housewife, a very honestly written character, is very effective in her fleshing it out. Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, and Gregory Ratoff are all very entertaining and likable. The doosie is Marilyn Monroe, who even with her few minutes on screen is very wooden. The outstanding man in the film is George Sanders, who plays theater critic Addison De Witt, one of the most intelligent and refreshingly practical and analytical characters I've seen in a movie. He is introduced as simply another one of the many people we will be seeing in the social circle of the film's main characters, even through the story he is partially narrating. Yet he slowly grows to be something more, and we are surprised to see the full extent of what his character is significant for. Sanders has a scene where he is disturbing and vindicating to us at the same time.
All About Eve is full of what so many people don't seem to realize can be the most satisfying and fascinating quality a movie can have, in its writing, in its actors, in its direction, in its detail, and that is a razor wit to wield. It has all different brands of smarts, and we need more films like it today.
There've been a number of films that explore the passion for success on the stage: Stage Door (1937) and A Star Is Born (first made in 1937 and made several times thereafter) being two of the most notable. And, other films have also taken an introspective look at the machinations of the acting profession The Player (1992) and even the goofy, but entertaining, Get Shorty (1995).
This one, however, is the definitive voyeuristic analysis of why actors will do anything to get to the top, for three reasons. First, it has a script that is flawless in its construction, logic and plot development; to use a hackneyed phrase it all hangs together seamlessly, showing and telling, with three different voice-overs the depths to which some go to reach the heights of narcissistic glory. Second, such a film required a strong hand to keep the actors in check, to prevent it from descending into farce, and that's why Joe Mankiewicz was needed; well, it was his script, anyway so who better to direct, with his fine record of films? And, third, the main protagonists: never before, I think, has a script followed so closely the juxtaposition of a true star (Bette Davis) in her waning years, playing an actress in her waning years, and being challenged by a relative newcomer (Anne Baxter), playing a newcomer challenging the aging star. Such delicious irony, I think, is rare to see on screen. Add to that, a collection of actors (George Sanders, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Celeste Holm, the irrepressible Thelma Ritter) of the time who ably and professionally flesh out a drama about the reality of life in fiction.
Perhaps even more interesting than the actual film would have been a documentary filming the action on the sets, as the film was made... One can only dream, I guess, to have been a fly on the wall.
A word about the dialog: checking the above link for Quotes, I see that all of the lines I rate as some of the best I've heard, all show up in the list which is, also, one of the longest list of quotable film quotes I've seen. If you're hesitating about seeing this film, just scan through those quotes to get a sense of what is in store.
As implied, the direction from Mankiewicz and the acting particularly Davis, Baxter and Sanders are riveting. Bette Davis is the personification of diminishing self-confidence as the onset of age dominates and depresses; Baxter is almost sociopathic in her portrayal of naked ambition disguised as sycophantic concern for one and all, but particularly for those who will advance her ambitions; and George Sanders does give the performance of his career and deservedly received the award for Best Supporting Actor. Other actors (Dick Powell or Claude Rains, for example) could have played that role, for sure; Sanders, however, does such a good job, it's a though the character of Addison DeWitt (what a play on word sound Addison, the wit and critic, given a name that sounds like a New Yorker's disparaging put-down. Was Mankiewicz having a bit of fun at New York's expense?) morphs into George Sanders completely. And, vice-versa...
So, treat yourself to a filmic experience that you'll never see repeated for obvious and sad reasons. But also, this type of narrative is long gone from the Hollywood scene: talky movies are box-office death these days, as we all know unless you're in a Phone Booth (2002) or on a Cellular (2004).
One can only hope that nobody attempts a remake of this masterpiece. Highest recommendation...
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.