The Three Faces of Eve (1957)
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In only her third feature film Joanne Woodward became the Best Actress for 1957, ironically beating out Elizabeth Taylor who was descending into madness in Raintree County instead of being cured. I read somewhere that the Southern born Ms. Woodward remarked ironically that it took years of training for her to lose her southern accent and then she has to find it all over again to win her Oscar. I guess the Academy voters that year were as impressed as I was how she was able to flip into three different characters in many scenes. She's drab homemaker Eve White, a Tennessee Williams sexpot as Eve Black, and as Jane who's trying to leave both behind.
As good as Woodward is, my favorite scene in The Three Faces of Eve is when psychiatrist Lee J. Cobb tries to explain to Woodward's working class husband David Wayne about multiple personality disorder. The patient looks on Cobb's face and the blank expression on Wayne's face say more than ten pages of dialog. Another performance to look for is that of future TV physician Ben Casey, Vincent Edwards as a soldier trying to pick up Woodward in her sex kitten self.
Nunnally Johnson gets some real good performances out of his cast and a once in a lifetime role for Joanne Woodward.
These days, the film doesn't have the same power which is why I feel it needs to be seen from the mid 50's viewpoint.
I heartily disagree with those who feel there wasn't enough difference between the Eve White personality and the Jane personality. Woodward definitely brought out the submissiveness and lack of self confidence in Eve White and the level headed attitude of Jane.
It's true that the true story didn't end where the movie did. However it does stand as a great movie.
One does wonder if either Judy Garland or June Allyson, both of whom were offered the role, could have done as well. Orson Welles reportedly stated that any actress successfully doing the role would win an Oscar. However, Woodward did the switch so effortlessly that I feel she was destined for the role.
As for those who argue that MPD doesn't actually exist, I personally knew a woman afflicted with the disorder. It indeed exists.
With the way that Eve's psychological illness was treated in this somewhat pedestrian-level, little picture, all that was needed to fix Eve's screwed-up, little head was for the doc to subject her to but a few limp-wristed sessions of hypnotherapy - And before we knew it, Eve was suddenly emerging into that of a very well-rounded, level-headed, likable and intelligent woman who had not a care in the world (as well, she also had a hunky, understanding new beau waiting in the wings to love her to pieces).
I don't know what most people think, but, when I took into serious consideration the fact that Eve's M.P.D. didn't just take place over night (it was an extremely rare, almost unheard of, mental disorder that had been with her, steadily becoming worse, since the very young age of 6), this over-simplified cure-all of using only hypnosis struck me square in the face as being downright ludicrous beyond words.
I guess (considering that this "based-on-fact" story was a very clear product of the 1950s) its whole over-simplification of a very complex disorder of the mind was a deliberate attempt by its producers to present its subject matter as a marketable product, easily sold to the naive mind-set of "Mr. & Mrs. Joe Average" movie-goer from that particular era in American culture.
Now, don't get me wrong here - I didn't in any way hate The Three Faces Of Eve. On the contrary, I found it to be entertaining, very well-scripted and its cast certainly convinced me that they were in complete earnest when it came to playing their parts - But, as a film dealing directly with very serious psychological issues, it just wasn't structured in a convincingly enough manner to hold even an ounce of water. - And, so, due to that argument, I rate it with only 5 stars.
PS--In response to OTHER postings on IMDb, schizophrenia and multiple personality disorders are NOT the same. Even among therapists who believe MPD exists, there is universal agreement among professionals that MPD and schizophrenia are not at all the same. The DSM (the therapists' bible for diagnosing mental illnesses) lists them as separate disorders with very different symptoms. They are VERY different and are treated VERY differently. This movie was NOT about schizophrenia. I use the movie myself in my psychology class as it is a wonderful introduction into this controversy. Great entertainment but "fact"? I am skeptical.
PPS--In response to one posting advising others to IGNORE another posting because it is WRONG. I would NEVER want to do this. Whether you believe DID/MPD exists, it is very unwise to advise others to ignore those whose opinions differ. Provided you have an informed opinion (like the 2 in question), it's nice to hear the controversy. I want people to be aware there is a lot of disagreement--don't believe any one posting is definitively right just because they say so!
A lot of movies tell you they are based on facts, and it doesn't always matter in particular, or it even distracts because with fact, there are limits, and with fiction, there are none.
But if this movie was NOT based on fact, it would come off a little cheesy and a hair slim. There really isn't much a plot, or, oddly, development. The key twist happens right away, and is explained, through narration and by the main male lead, Lee J. Cobb, playing a psychiatrist. From there it is a matter of thinking, wow, this really happened?
And it happened to a young woman played here with energy by Joanne Woodward. I think it's a beautiful performance, an appropriate one, but the style of this quasi-documentary style movie makes it a little plasticky, too, chilling in a fake way. With keyed in music with each change of personality.
So there is something utterly amazing and chilling going on here, as a movie, and as psychology, but within constraints of its own making.
Filmed in black and white, as usual the look always seems to impart a certain gravity to the story. It does so here; this is not really a happy tale, as things develop.
Eve White (Joanne Woodward) has agreed to see a psychiatrist along with her husband Ralph (David Wayne – probably his most significant film role). She has been having problems with headaches and some strange events have occurred, at least one of which is quite alarming. The psychiatrist is of course befuddled with her testimony. As the story continues, she certainly is treated for her condition – evincing at first two and then three distinct personas – but she really is taxing contemporary knowledge of her kind of affliction.
Joanne Woodward won the Best Actress award from the Academy in 1957. She was a fresh face at that time, yet there is no doubt she should have at least been nominated. She really convinces us that she is each one of the three people she could become. It is incredible how she can change on a dime from one "face" to another, and in fact she can even be induced to do so.
Lee J. Cobb (as Dr. Luther) really supports this film and the character(s) of Eve, and it is seems to me a big oversight by the Academy that he wasn't nominated for an award; two of the nominees for Best Supporting Actor (Russ Tamblyn and Arthur Kennedy) had appeared in "Peyton Place". The sheer amount of dialogue Cobb delivers and the manner in which he essentially manipulates Eve to open up is really on the mark. It should also be mentioned this was probably Nunally Johnson's best directorial effort. In an interview Johnson relates that he really wanted Orson Welles to play the doctor's role (http://www.archive.org).
There is more to the story of the real person's life upon who this was based (Chris Sizemore) then we are able to cover in this movie. The above mentioned interview sheds some light on that. But this story stands on its own, in a big way.
Ralph moves with Bonnie to Jacksonville and Eve continues her treatment. She tells that she is hearing voices, and Dr. Luther uses hypnosis to disclose more about her trauma. Out of the blue, a third personality emerges and tells that she is Jane that shows that is a balanced personality. Dr. Luther questions which personality should be the predominant.
"The Three Faces of Eve" is based on a true story and based on a book written by two medical doctors about a case of multiple personality in Georgia. I do not know the impact of Nunnally Johnson's movie in 1957 since it is dated in the present days. But it is still a good docudrama, especially because of the magnificent performance of Joanne Woodward in the role of three different women. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "As Três Máscaras de Eva" ("The Three Masks of Eve")
On the whole the movie works, by keeping us interested in the cause of Eve's sickness and also in the fact that it's called "3 faces" but we only see the first two for quite a lot of the film's running time. It's a very dense film, in the sense that there are not a lot of characters and it's not very long but quite a lot of ground is covered within that space of time. I would say it remains interesting mostly for the performances of Woodward, Wayne, and Cobb.
You can easily see why Joanne Woodward won an Oscar for this role. Her personality-shifting surprised even me. She fits the role to a tee. I guess that it's often hard for us remember that these kinds of orders exist, but this movie makes clear its abundance. Anyway, I can't stress enough how great this movie is. You have to see it to believe it. And believe it you will!
Eve White (Woodward) is a woman who suffers from severe headaches and spells of amnesia. She thinks it is only spells that she goes through so goes to a doctor, Dr. Curtis Luther (Cobb), to see if he can do anything to help her overcome her illness. After some time Dr. Luther comes to the conclusion that Eve has multiple personality disorder when he met with Eve's other personality, Eve Black. While Eve White is a very quiet, somewhat depressed woman Eve Black is the exact opposite, a woman who is very loose and does anything for a thrill. Eve's husband (Wayne) does not believe that Eve has an illness and blames her for everything that Eve Black has done. He's really mad at her before he even knows that there is a third face of Eve.
The screenplay by Nunnally Johnson is very entertaining, and for the time very daring and unconventional. Sadly by today's standards it is nothing new and somewhat a cliché since multiple personality is an overly used illness. I really enjoyed this film the whole way through thinking as if I saw this for the first time in theatres and not seeing all the multiple personality films and television programs of today. It was very intense and I had no idea how it was going to end at all. The three characters that Joanne Woodward played were all interesting and kept me wondering. Unfortunately, the end of the film did not satisfy because it did not match the rest of the film in its mood. Johnson had a very successful career as a writer and this film is definitely one that will be remembered that she wrote.
Nunnally Johnson's direction for this film was also good, except the ending still bothers me and brought the film down a point. He had some very powerful shots during this film, the first one that comes to mind was when Eve's husband pulled Eve off their child as she was trying to strangle the child. When I saw that I was thought I didn't know they could do that in the 1950s. There were many great shots throughout the film many of them were for when Eve changed into a different personality. Of course Johnson has to be complimented for his great job getting wonderful performances from his actors.
Joanne Woodward delivered one of the greatest performances of all time in this film. For all of those people who play a person with multiple personality I suggest you take a lesson from Woodward on how to do it. She won the Oscar for Best Actress and she deserved it more than most of the women who won it. The way she transformed into each of the separate personalities was amazing. She had a different voice, different facial expressions, different body movements, it was like she was actually different people. It was like watching a person switch characters without stopping the shot, well actually it was that. Magnificent. Now David Wayne played her husband and he did a fine job, I thought it would have been better if he acted more tough instead of like a coward pretending to be tough. I though Lee J. Cobb did a very good job as the doctor, he could have done nothing really to improve on his well done performance.
The score for this film was very well done. It added suspense when it was proper and kept me on the edge of my seat. When it was sad the music was appropriate and got me more engaged in the film and especially Woodward's performance. Like a good score should it adds another layer to the film that allows the viewer to get more entwined with the plot.
Overall I give this film a 7/10 due to the outstanding performance by Joanne Woodward and also the edginess for the film at the time. It would have been an 8/10 if it had a more satisfying conclusion. If you watch this film today thinking it was made today you will be disappointed by the writing though because of how overused multiple personality disorder is. See this film to see the wonderful performance and also if you like dramas that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
"The Three Faces Of Eve", though fictional, relied in great part on evidence at hand regarding treatment methods of the mentally ill. Dated only due to the great strides made since then, this film remains a milestone in film-making, tackling a taboo subject in need of exposure. This is not a Saturday Night entertainer, but a serious and important film.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is a valid disorder, though many, even in the psychiatric community, believe otherwise. Just as any disease has its distinctive characteristics (spots go along with chicken pox) so does DID. These people (as children) were most likely the victims of child abuse (physical or sexual or both), witnessing something traumatic, poverty, or something else equally horrifying. It is disgusting that someone can even insinuate that these people are making this up. Dissociation is a defense mechanism that a child may use to escape a situation which is too difficult for them to bear. Anyone who is familiar with the disorder can pick out the real cases from the fakers. The only reason that people don't believe this is because they are ignorant to it. Read a book about it. Learn about it. Don't just assume it doesn't exist because it's too hard for you to believe.
Back to the movie: I enjoyed it very much, in fact even more so than the book. You could definitely see the little Hollywood touches (the happy ending, for one) but for the most part it seemed pretty accurate and (because it was based on a true story) happens to be one of the only movies out there about multiple personalities that is even somewhat accurate.
Doctor Curtis Luther (Cobb) treats Eve White (Woodward) for Multiple Personality Disorder...
Christine, Strawberry Girl.
It has become one of those films that is stuck in some sort of Hollywood purgatory. Its impact back on release in 1957, where Hollywood was still struggling to come to terms with putting mental illness on celluloid, should not be understated, and it's that time frame where one might have to transport yourself to get the benefits of the production.
Looking at it today, it is rife with simplistic ideals, where it often feels like Hollywood believes there is this magical cure for mental illness, a world where some amiable doctor can chat the chat, snap his fingers and bang! What joy, it's all good really, and sorry we played some of the film for laughs...
The reason why it is in Hollywood no man's land is because in spite of the near crassness of the piece, it still stands up as a film of importance, a picture that brought out the topic at hand into the mainstream. As an interim movie in the trajectory of big screen forays into matters of the mind, it advanced awareness and built a bridge that the likes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Girl Interrupted would later traverse with some distinction.
It also boasts a brilliant Oscar winning performance from Woodward, a real tour de force that engages the viewer emotionally to the point where sadness, anger, hope and understanding merge into one blurry cinematic achievement. Though away from "Eve's" interactions with Doctor Luther (Cobb perfectly restrained for a change), the rest of the film kind of feels like filler, Johnson not quite comfortable enough as a director to expand the dramatic thematics out of the Doc's office.
Based on the real life case of Chris Costner Sizemore, the story only scratches the surface of what the poor lady went through. The psychiatric resolution here on film is very disappointing, this even if there's undoubtedly some exhilaration to be had as cinema Eve comes through the dark tunnel to find daylight. So in that respect, it's another blot on Nunally Johnson's landscape. But again, it put the case in the public conscious, where even today it should at least make people consider reading up on the real "Eve's" story.
Uneven for sure, where rewards and annoyances await, but Woodward and the film's mark in subject matter history lift it way above average. 7.5/10
Woodward plays Eve White, a drab and mousy housewife with a husband whose attitude is indifference bordering on abuse, a daughter she adores, and suffers from headaches and "blackouts" during which her husband tells her she does things she would never do (in one scene one of her alternates has nearly harmed the child; Mrs White is of course completely ignorant of this and as a result bewildered).
Eve finally consults psychiatrist Dr Curtis Luther (Lee J Cobb, excellent as always). In treatment, two more personalities emerge. The first is Eve Black, a wild party-girl who is the exact opposite of Eve White in nearly every respect. Eve Black is the one causing all the trouble; after stirring things up, she retreats and Eve White has to live with the consequences, which culminate in the collapse of her marriage when her insensitive brute of a husband (David Wayne is incredibly hateful in a major departure from his usual roles), convinced she's doing all this on purpose, leaves.
After some back-and-forth between Eve Black and Eve White, a third personality emerges: rather ironically named "Jane," this third alternate is so completely free of neurosis that she is scarcely human.
The plot is really much ado about nothing, but it gave Joanne Woodward the opportunity to show off her acting chops by delivering three fully fleshed out performances wrapped up in one. In fact the whole movie hinges on the quality of Woodward's work because the science was creaky even back then and has dated badly since; I won't even bother to reveal what caused her to become a multiple because it is so ridiculous that it's a miracle that Woodward actually carries it off.
That same year, Billy Wilder directed Marlene Dietrich in the greatest performance of her career in Agatha Christie's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION; unfortunately the studio did not promote Dietrich at Oscar time for fear of revealing too much about the plot, and she did not even get a nomination. I love Woodward's performance, but I wonder what would have happened if Dietrich had been in the race; Wilder's film is far superior to EVE and while I won't say Dietrich would have won, she would definitely have given Woodward a run for her money.
Fun fact: Woodward would later go on to play the psychiatrist Cornelia Wilbur in the 1976 television drama "Sybil," in which Sally Field played the patient and delivered her own breakthrough performance leaving everyone who thought all she could do was "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun" totally breathless.