All About Eve (DVD, 2008, 2-Disc Set, Bette Davis Centenary Collection)
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La Ultima Chick-Flick: All About Eve
Jun 13, 2007 (Updated Jun 14, 2007)
Review by George Chabot
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Cons:Pretty good at what it does
The Bottom Line: A great performance by everyone and one of the most quotable scripts ever characterizes All About Eve the ultimate chick-flick
All About Eve (1950)
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"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night." Margo Channing (Bette Davis)
Joseph L. Mankiewicz wrote the screenplay and directed All About Eve from the short story by Mary Orr. It is noted as one of the films that has the most quotable lines, a testament to Mankiewicz's superior writing skills that all came together on this picture. In fact, Mankiewicz scored a double header getting Oscars for both Best Director and Best Screenplay, out of the six Statuettes the film won.
All About Eve peels back the bright tinsel that envelops the theater; or Hollywood - and reveals the greasy, grimy edge of the dirty laundry underneath the slick packaging.
The movie opens with an endless awards ceremony with a fictitious award meant to evoke the Oscar, voice over drollery is provided by Addison DeWitt, played by ultra cad George Sanders in his signature appearance. Sanders plays a film critic, that most useless of creatures, who "neither toils nor spins" but feels qualified to judge the work of others (evil grin). The person being feted is Eve Harrington (Ann Baxter) who is getting the "Best Actress" award. After establishing who is who, and giving George Sanders (The Picture of Dorian Gray) enough space to adequately exercise his cadness, we switch to learning "all about Eve."
We arrive there through flashbacks, as we see how "Karen Richards" (Celeste Holm) admits the waifish Ann Baxter backstage into the inner sanctum of Bette Davis' dressing room. There is a simple directness and yet disturbing quality to Eve that goes right over the heads of the egotistical, yet insecure inhabitants of the room but does not escape the attentive viewer. She is too ready, she knows everything about them - even more than they know about themselves; and they know nothing about her. And, as "only in Hollywood," these same ghoulish theater people take Eve to their bosoms and make her Bette Davis' (Jezebel) live-in secretary, and later understudy.
The movie has got lots of quotable dialog and that is perhaps all that it's about. The witty repartee flies during the party scene as Bette Davis comes in with both guns blazing, earning her a spot in Uberbitch heaven, as if she didn't already have one. She is the big star who has forsaken everything including personal happiness to get there and she sees it slipping away fast with no safety net to catch her. You have to give Bette Davis credit for playing an unattractive character who appears at less than her best. George Sanders, of course, is totally at home as a venomous critic with a scathing tongue.
The supporting cast is great with Anne Baxter pulling a real life "Eve" on Davis by demanding her supporting role be elevated to star level so she could be nominated for Best Actress. As a result of her power play, Davis and Baxter both lost the Best Actress Oscar to Judy Holliday. I'm sure Davis remained p!s$ed at Baxter the rest of her life. The rest of Davis' posse is played by Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Celeste Holm, and the ageless Thelma Ritter - who always looked older than dirt. Marilyn Monroe had a small part as a gold digger.
An interesting bit of trivia - Claudette Colbert was signed for the Margo Channing part but had to withdraw when she injured her back. Thus, Bette Davis was not first choice for the role that became her signature.
The movie has an ironic ending that will make you want to see it again.
The Fox "Studio Classics" DVD contains a restored print of the 138 minute black and white movie with a bunch of extra content, including two full length commentaries: a half-hour AMC Backstory episode on the movie; interviews with Bette Davis and Ann Baxter; four newsreels, subtitles, and language choices. There is comparison between the original negative and restored video that is very enlightening.
More good films that highlight the shallowness of the entertainment bidness -
The Bad and the Beautiful
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