Sunday, January 19, 2014

All About Eve (1950)

A self-important critic, an aging star, a cuththroat newbie, a writer & his wife, a ditzy starlet - a perfect recipe for trouble in the world of entertainment. 

 All About Eve is basically a peep in the world of theater (or Hollywood for that matter) with all its stereotypical characters and all the maneuvering they do just to stay where they are or get ahead in the business - it's a mean, mean world.

Written & Directed by:  Joseph L. Mankiewicz (A Letter To Three Wives)
Starring:  Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm
Music by:  Alfred Newman (The Best of Everything)
Cinematography by:  Milton R. Krasner (Three Coins in the Fountain)
Editing by:  Barbara McLean (Wilson)
Running Time:  138 mins
Budget:  $1.4 million
Box Office: $8.4 million

"Margo is a great star, a true star. She never was or will be anything less or anything else." Such words can be said to Bette Davis as well. I have loved her in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (click link for my review) and as I slowly discover her films, it becomes apparent to me that she is one of the greatest actresses ever. I love her. It's funny because I have only seen three movies of her and yet my idolatry is already worthy of another tablet-throwing Moses-tantrum. Thank god Claudette Colbert had to withdraw from the project, as much as I respect her, I don't think she would have done what Davis did to this role.

Anne Baxter as the cunning Eve was chosen by producer Zanuck for having enough "bitch virtuosity". LOL. Now I'm not sure about Anne, maybe it's how her character should be, but she seems to be a bit wooden at times. Again, maybe it's her being a cold-hearted, manipulative bitch is the reason why she looks indifferent or a bit limited in the "facial expressions" department. Or maybe I was just unfairly comparing her to Bette Davis' flamboyant performance.

Special mention to Thelma Ritter as Birdie Coonan for being so hilarious. I wish she was given more screen time. 

Birdie (left) and Eve (right)

Marilyn Monroe (basically unknown at that time) was a good addition to the cast. Her goofy acting & blonde ditzy character was so amusing. "The inexperienced Monroe was cowed by Bette Davis, and took 11 takes to complete the scene in the theater lobby with the star; when Davis barked at her, Monroe left the set to vomit." Poor thing.

Miss Caswell (Monroe):  Oh, waiter!
Addison DeWitt: That is not a waiter, my dear, that is a butler.
Miss Caswell: Well, I can't yell "Oh butler!" can I? Maybe somebody's name is Butler.
DeWitt:  You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point.

The last scene is one of my favorite shots. It's a vicious cycle. The thirst for fame and the will to do everything just to achieve is never satiated in the world of entertainment. And people will do everything to feed that hunger, eventually destroying themselves. We've seen that in each of the characters, and this scene symbolizes another predator of fame that will soon fall prey to its prey. Fame is all in your head. Your worst enemy is yourself. Phoebe imagining herself in front of an audience, basking in applause - it's all a sham. The audience you're trying to please is yourself. Because in the end, as you will be replaced, people will forget about you, and only you and your self-important delusions that you desperately try to hold on to will eventually destroy you. That's why when Addison DeWitt said "I am essential to the theater" in the opening narration, (oh the satire was thick, I love it!) I knew this film would greatly entertain me.

All About Eve got 14 nominations, won Best Picture, and is still the only film, as of 2013, that received four female acting nominations. 

My Rating: 4.5/5 - A classic, a remarkable performance from Davis, a gem of a screenplay with a fountain of quotable quotes brimming with sarcasm - every minute of it is worth watching.

YOUR POINT OF VIEW: Who do you think will make a good Margo-Eve portrayal today? (I would love to see Meryl Streep as Margo.)

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  1. That's a good question.. Meryl Streep was a big fan of B.Davis, in fact Davis wrote her a letter. FYI :)
    I see more Helen Mirren portraying Margo with her personality, but in appearance I see Charlize Theron..

    1. wow really? I didn't know that. On top of my head I choose Streep. But I also agree with Mirren. I'm not sure about Charlize though.. If I have to choose between Streep and Mirren, I would still choose Streep because she has charm (that any a-list actress needs) and could also portray Margo with an abrasive personality at the same time with sweetness.

  2. I wanted to add,( to the above question you asked),that I thoroughly enjoyed this review. You did a terrific job!!!!

    1. thank you! I rushed this review because I have other movies in my to-review list. But I'm glad you liked it =D



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