Review by Brian Koller|
3½ stars out of 4
"All About Eve" is a black comedy that cynically skewers
the theater, with an outstanding and wicked script.
It was nominated for an amazing fourteen Oscars,
winning six including Best Picture, Best Director
and Best Screenplay. Joseph L. Mankiewicz both
directed and adapted the screenplay from Mary Orr's
"The Wisdom of Eve".
Bette Davis stars as aging actress Margo Channing,
whose long-successful Broadway career is based upon
plays written by Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe) and
directed by Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill). Bill is also
her lover, although their relationship is stormy due to
temperamental Davis' insecurity about their age
difference (Bill is eight years younger). (Davis
and Merrill wed in real life, later in 1950). Margo's
best friend is Lloyd's wife Karen (Celeste Holm).
Karen takes pity on a starstruck young woman who keeps
hanging around the theater, hoping to get a glipse of
Margo. This lovely, ingratiating young woman is Eve
(Anne Baxter) who, upon being introduced to Margo, soon
becomes her servant and secretary. Gradually it becomes
apparent that Eve wishes to become the next Margo Channing,
as she tries to take Margo's place in Lloyd's upcoming
play, and even tries to steal both Lloyd and Bill.
Eve's rise is partly choreographed by sarcastic,
cold-hearted theater critic Addison De Witt (George Sanders).
Marilyn Monroe, already stereotyped, has a small supporting
role as a dim-witted would-be actress.
The script is about as good as it gets. Margo's line
"Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night"
is the most famous, but in their context many others are
just as good. My favorite is Margo's withering comment
"All playrights should be dead for 300 years!"
Underpinning the script and story is Margo's fear of
losing both Bill and her career to the younger, more
attractive Eve, while not realizing that even her spoiled
diva personality is superior to Eve's fraudulent humility
and cunning manipulations. The awards ceremony shown
at film's beginning and end epitomizes Eve's (and the
theater's?) phoniness, with Eve in her acceptance speech
thanking Margo, Lloyd, Bill, and Karen while they
in turn watch her with ironical contempt.
Copyright © 1997 Brian Koller