All About Eve (1950) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Diane of Tvor Travels. Thanks for the review, Diane! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thinks of All About Eve, IMDB rank 104 out of 250…

There are another 14 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.

All About Eve (1950)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Writer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

All About Eve is one of my all time favourite movies. It has a feel of being one of those films that was adapted from a stage play, probably because it’s all about the theatre, the actors and the rivalries but it was in fact, based on a short story “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr. The script was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

The basic premise of the movie is about an aging Broadway star, Margo Channing. She’s just turned 40, she’s a brilliant and talented actress, but the best roles are for the younger engenue and it’s getting more and more difficult for her to pass as one. Age and experience has a way of contributing a jaded attitude that does not work well with a role for a younger character, after all. Her lover is 8 years younger than her, and she’s feeling insecure about that, as well. Into the mix comes Eve Harrington, seemingly a star struck young woman who looks up to Margo and wants to be like her. In every way. She wants to be a famous actress and is determined to claw her way to the top using any scheming means necessary including seduction, subversive manipulation, and metaphorical back stabbing. Completing the main cast are Margo’s younger lover, Bill who is a director, her best friend, Karen, her friend’s husband, Lloyd, who writes the plays Margo has starred in.

The movie starts with an awards ceremony where Eve Harrington is receiving the very prestigious Sarah Siddon’s award for Distinguished Achievement. We then backtrack. Eve Harrington shows up at the stage door one dark and rainy night. Karen invites her to meet her idol, Margo Channing, and Eve narrates her life story, a classic and a bit cheesy story of a poor farm girl who wanted to be an actress but has lived a boring and dull life until she discovered amateur dramatics and later, Margo Channing. She even tells them she married a war hero who was killed in action. It’s all very tragic. Just as Eve intended. Here we have a fabulous line from Birdie, Margo’s assistant and dresser. “What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her rear end!”

The action is narrated from various points of view through the course of the film. We start with sardonic theatre critic, Addison deWitt then move over to Karen when Eve is introduced. Margo takes over at the start of Eve being taken on as an assistant. It’s interesting, and it adds that little extra aspect to the characters and their reactions to Eve. Addison has the full measure of the diabolical Eve and manages to rein her in from her most destructive tendencies but Addison also likes to hitch his wagon to a winner and he can see the writing on the wall. Karen is naive and like most of the characters, believes Eve’s stories and explanations at first. Margo sees nothing but what Eve wants her to see, blinded by the young woman’s adoration of her at first until her jealousy and insecurity take hold.

We follow Eve as she insinuates herself into Margo’s life as she worms her way up the ladder to the boards of the stage, getting a chance as the understudy that makes her triumphant debut and a star is born. Lloyd becomes enchanted by Eve’s young talent. Bill becomes disenchanted by Margo’s jealousy. Eve plays them all like chess pieces. But Eve’s also going to have to watch her own back. Karma might be waiting in the wings.

The cast is superb, with Bette Davis taking the role of Margo and Anne Baxter as Eve. Gary Merrill plays Bill, Margo’s husband and was married to Bette Davis by the time the film was released in 1950. Addison deWitt is played by the wonderful George Sanders with Celeste Holm and Hugh Marlowe as Karen and Lloyd. The film is also noted for an early appearance by Marilyn Monroe in the famous scene that ends with the legendary Davis line “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night”. In fact, this movie is full of superb dialogue.

The movie pokes holes in Broadway, the actors and the lifestyle and it shows a not-so-nice side of the business, where men can age and continue to get great parts, but women can’t. Things are getting a little better in that respect, but it’s not come along in leaps and bounds, either. The film was nominated for and won a lot of awards including the Oscar for Best Picture in a year where it competed with Sunset Boulevard, another really strong movie. Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were both nominated for Best Actress and neither won, probably splitting the vote.

I’m sure the character of Margo, very similar in age to Davis, exhibiting the fear, vulnerability and insecurities of an actress at that age and in that time period probably felt very familiar. She certainly made the character believable and played it very realistically. That’s what was so great about Bette Davis, she never backed down from a character, even if the character was unflattering or unlikeable. She would want the character to transcend the actress and that’s why she was one of the best of what she did. For me, this is Bette Davis at the very top of her game.

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