Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"

All About Eve | dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz | rel. 1950

All About Eve is a glorious dramatic film about life in the theater. The film looks great, so I gave into my temptations--I'm going to make a film stills/review post regarding the film after I found some great screencaps of it. Sorry for the possible incoherence of this post. And there are some minimal spoilers here, so...beware!

I love this shot for some reason. It occurs quite early in the film (before the flashbacks) and it fits in so well with the words being said during the scene:

 Such young hands. Such a young lady.
Young in years, but whose heart is as old as the Theater...

Eve Harrington, the title character of the film, is played by Anne Baxter. Baxter is quite good in the role of an aspiring theater actress but...

Everyone who has seen this film before knows that Bette Davis is the true star of All About Eve. I believe that Davis was born to play Margo Channing, in the same way that Vivien Leigh was just meant to play Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. I don't know if I could say it better right now than what I wrote in my Xanga regarding the film the other day, so I guess I'll just paste it here for all to read:

Bette Davis is so amazing as Margo Channing. Davis made what had been a simple character of pure bitchiness into a sympathetic, moving, and brilliant character. I guess one of the problems about the film is that Eve Harrington just isn't sympathetic enough (unnecessary? I think that some sympathy is vital to understanding Eve's character) and I find that one of the major faults of Anne Baxter's performance. Baxter, although great, just didn't sink in deep enough for the character to be completely satisfying on-screen, especially compared to Davis, who just gave it her 150%.

I love this scene. Gary Merrill is so wonderful as Bill Simpson. He and Davis have surprisingly amazing chemistry. In so many movies, age difference hurts movie chemistry but here, to my delight, it does not.

Bette Davis' eyes makes close-ups a million times better.

Anyone heard of the song, "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes? It's a beautiful song and there is a sweet story regarding Davis' reaction to the song (IMDb):

After the song Bette Davis Eyes became a hit single, Davis wrote letters to singer Kim Carnes and songwriters Donna Weiss & Jackie DeShannon, asking how did they know so much about her. One of the reasons Davis loved the song is that her granddaughter heard it and thought it "cool" that her grandmother had a hit song written about her.

It is quite obvious that every single actor involved in the film just adored their roles and chewed it up completely. The film is decorated with terrific supporting roles--to Addison DeWitt, Bill Simpson, to Lloyd Richards. But there is one supporting performance in this film I absolutely loved--Celeste Holm as Karen Richards, best friend of Margo Channing and wife of playwright Lloyd Richards. In the beginning, Karen is very sympathetic towards Eve, almost motherly. Of course, this is until she realizes Eve's conniving ways that she withdraws from her sympathetic feelings towards the young girl. This transformation could have been sloppily done, but the way Holm conveys her feelings is so natural that you barely even notice the gradual change of heart.

"Oh, you little bitch..." was going through my mind again and again in this particular scene. I love to hate Eve as much as the next person, but I just keep wishing there was at least something I could truly bring myself to sympathize with. I guess the fact that she wanted to be a theater star so badly that she was willing to turn vicious for it is worthy of sympathy but...I still can't bring myself to care enough for Eve's vulnerable side that she put on display during that crucial scene with Addison (George Sanders). I really wish that every character I hate is just like (excuse me for my Harry Potter reference) Severus Snape.

I still can't get over how easily Margo fell for Eve's trap. But hey, Eve was a sweet girl.

What a marvelous ending...

I realized that the more I think about this film, the more I like it. But for now:

Rating: 8/10


  1. Definitely one of the best movies I have ever seen. Bette Davis is extraordinary. Her and Theron's performance from Monster are among the best, ever! Christina Ricci was sorely overlooked. Her performance deserved an Oscar nomination.

  2. Loved this movie. As weird as it sounds, I didn't expect it to be as great as I found it. And Bette... *drools* She's such an excellent actress.

  3. @ Barry and J.D.
    Bette Davis is just extraordinary in All About Eve. I need to see more of her movies. Recommendations would be nice.

  4. This is my favourite film of all time, I've seen it countless times. And, although Bette Davis is my favourite actress, George Sanders just about steals the show as Addison deWitt.

    Other good Bette Davis films:

    "Now, Voyager"
    "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?"
    "The Petrified Forest"
    "Dark Victory"
    "Of Human Bondage"

  5. Thanks for the recommendations, Catherine! I've always been interested in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? because of all the stories surrounding the Davis-Crawford casting.

  6. I gave it a 9/10. I love how Eve is the villain actually but such an unusual one at that. It takes time for you to recognize that and even more to digest.

    Great classic.

  7. Anil - I love how Eve is a villain too. It just adds another dimension of complexity to her character, although I think the revelation could have been done more effectively.