All About Eve is a 1950 drama film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and stars Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, and Celeste Holm. The film was nominated for 14 different Academy Awards and won 6, with one being Best Picture.
Margo Channing (Davis) is a popular, though aging, Broadway actress who fears that her career is beginning to reach its downhill slide. Her life gets turned upside down when she meets superfan Eve Harrington (Baxter). Margo hires Eve as an assistant, and while everything seems fine at first, Eve begins to sabotage Margo's life, disrupting her relationships with her closest friends, and eventually aims to swipe Margo's Broadway spotlight away from her.
Bette Davis and Anne Baxter shine as a memorable female duo in All About Eve, a film with a premise as interesting as it is daring. The film could've been borderline-horror if the right buttons were pushed, but director Mankiewicz doesn't let us think of Eve Harrington as a stalker or psychopath. It makes sense that the film is All About Eve, because we spend the 138 minute run-time trying to decipher who Eve Harrington really is, what her motivations are, and what she hopes to achieve in the end.
Eve seems relatively simple on the surface; she's an up and coming actress who adores Margo Channing and wins everyone's affection with her innocence and youthful looks. But much is left to our imagination, because we never see her actually perform, plus we never see her in some flashback witnessing Margo Channing on stage. Is she envious? A suck-up? Or maybe does she secretly detest Margo so much that she wants to ruin her whatever the cost? No answer is totally straightforward, which is what makes Anne Baxter such a compelling and noteworthy villainous.
- The acting. All of the main actors and actresses do a fine job in their respective roles, with Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, and George Sanders deserving the most praise. There are no weak links in the main cast, and every character besides Margo and Eve get their chance to be a part of a significant scene. Celeste Holm's Karen Richards has a tense one-on-one conversation with Eve in a restaurant, who shares her intention to steal a Broadway part from Margo. George Sanders' Addison DeWitt keeps his eye on everyone, smoking from his long pipe, and paying close attention to Eve and her devious deeds. Did you know that Marilyn Monroe plays a small(er) part in this film?
- The story. It's one that finds a way to keep you intrigued throughout, beginning with an introduction to Eve, a seemingly harmless fan, who justs wants to meet her idol. But then you realize that she has a twinkle of wrong-doing in her eyes, and Eve's supposed friendship with Margo grows more strained by the minute. There's no sure-fire way to guess how the story will play out, which is always a plus.
- I failed to see how All About Eve is considered to be, according to other reviews, wickedly funny. The premise is too solemn to have All About Eve be considered a comedy. I am not claiming that the film has no humorous moments, but whatever bits of dialogue or physical gestures there were that were intended to be funny, did not stick out as such.
The Academy doesn't get the proper Best Picture winner correct all the time, but this is a time that they do. All About Eve features terrific performances, a thought-provoking story, and makes for a memorable movie experience. The Best Picture winners of the 1950's are off to a great start.
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