All About Eve

Critics Consensus

Smart, sophisticated, and devastatingly funny, All About Eve is a Hollywood classic that only improves with age.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 66

94%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 45,140
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Movie Info

Based on the story The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr, All About Eve is an elegantly bitchy backstage story revolving around aspiring actress Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). Tattered and forlorn, Eve shows up in the dressing room of Broadway mega-star Margo Channing (Bette Davis), weaving a melancholy life story to Margo and her friends. Taking pity on the girl, Margo takes Eve as her personal assistant. Before long, it becomes apparent that naïve Eve is a Machiavellian conniver who cold-bloodedly uses Margo, her director Bill Sampson (Gary Merill), Lloyd's wife Karen (Celeste Holm), and waspish critic Addison De Witt (George Sanders) to rise to the top of the theatrical heap. Also appearing in All About Eve is Marilyn Monroe, introduced by Addison De Witt as "a graduate of the Copacabana school of dramatic art." This is but one of the hundreds of unforgettable lines penned by writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the most famous of which is Margo Channing's lip-sneering admonition, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night." All About Eve received 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Cast

Bette Davis
as Margo Channing
Anne Baxter
as Eve Harrington
Gary Merrill
as Bill Sampson
George Sanders
as Addison De Witt
Celeste Holm
as Karen Richards
Hugh Marlowe
as Lloyd Richards
Thelma Ritter
as Birdie Coonan
Marilyn Monroe
as Miss Casswell
Gregory Ratoff
as Max Fabian
Walter Hampden
as Aged Actor
Craig Hill
as Leading Man
Barbara White
as Autograph Seeker
Eddie Fisher
as Stage Manager
Eugene Borden
as Frenchman
Helen Mowery
as Reporter
Steven Geray
as Captain of Waiters
Bess Flowers
as Well-Wisher
Ed Fisher
as Stage Manager
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Critic Reviews for All About Eve

All Critics (66) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (66)

  • All About Eve ranks among the smartest comedy-dramas in many, many years.

    Feb 19, 2019 | Full Review…
  • It is similar to a good many films that have gone before it, but Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who wrote and directed the picture, has been so ingenious in his treatment of the subject that he has come up with a thoroughly entertaining movie.

    Sep 6, 2018 | Full Review…
  • All About Eve is not only a brilliant and clever portrait of an actress, it is a downright funny film, from its opening scene to the final fadeout.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Joseph L Mankiewicz's film dissects the narcissism and hypocrisy of the spotlight as sharply as [Billy Wilder's Sunset Blvd], but pays equal attention to the challenges of enacting womanhood.

    Feb 22, 2015 | Rating: 5/5

    Ben Walters

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Joseph Mankiewicz was Hollywood's midcentury master of comic drama, and All About Eve, from 1950, was one of his signal achievements.

    Feb 25, 2014 | Full Review…
  • What makes the picture seem so good (what makes it eminently worth seeing) is the satirical touches in its detail and the performance of Bette Davis.

    Jan 23, 2013 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for All About Eve

  • Feb 27, 2017
    Bette Davis is so effortless and breathes fire in her performance as Margot, an aging actress who finds herself slowly and insidiously being usurped by a young fan, Eve, played by Anne Baxter. I don't think it's in a 'best ever' type of discussion, or worthy of its 14 Academy Award nominations, but its sharp dialog, predatory manipulation, and overall bitchiness make it entertaining, even if it's hard to like the characters. There are some great lines here; in addition to the famous "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night", I loved it when Davis exclaimed "I'm not twenty-ish, I'm not thirty-ish. Three months ago I was forty years old. Forty. 4-0. That slipped out. I hadn't quite made up my mind to admit it. Now I suddenly feel as if I've taken all my clothes off." Davis herself was 42, and this line and others ring true. George Sanders (as Addison DeWitt) is also fantastic, at one point saying "You're an improbable person, Eve, and so am I. We have that in common. Also, a contempt for humanity, an inability to love and be loved, insatiable ambition, and talent. We deserve each other." These quotes capture the spirit of the movie, which to me is simply about the difficulties that aging women face, and the cold and calculating world of the theater. There is supposedly a homosexual element, a theory put forth and apparently confirmed by writer and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, but it's so subtle, perhaps because of the Hays Code, that it didn't even register with me, and I think it's irrelevant. These characters are in the best cases rough around the edges, and in the worse, simply awful people. We see Margot being slowly replaced and want to feel sympathy for her, but it's tough because she's so abrasive. We see the evil side of Eve slowly unveil itself as it becomes apparent she's far from being a starstruck fan or even who she says she is. And at the end we see that she, too, will be replaced. It's all a bit grim: time, a machine that grinds them down, and competition for glory that leads to Machiavellian backstabbing. It's ironic that Davis was such a diva that there was discord amongst the actors, and Baxter pushing her way into a 'Best Actress' nomination instead of 'Best Supporting Actress' would lead to a division of the vote and neither of them winning. I was happy to see Marilyn Monroe in a small part at age 24 and before she was big, just to bring some lightness into the film. This is certainly a good movie, don't get me wrong, but it's not one I'd watch again and again as I would my favorites.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 18, 2014
    First, Joseph L. Mankiewicz is sending "letters to three wives", and now it's all about Eve. "I have to be strong, you had to be free, 'cause it's all about Eve!" I'm symphonic prog-rockin' here, Kamelot style, and I'm supposed to be talking about a film which predates any kind of rock. I don't know what to say, because, come on, just how interesting can a drama which got nominated for 14 Oscars - scoring six, including Best Picture -, b and supposedly features a lesbian be? I can practically feel my eyes drying out, there are so many men somewhere out widening their eyes when I say that Anne Baxter is playing at least a pseudo-lesbian, but again, this film is from 1950, so that's the only thing they're painstakingly subtle about. The only kind of homosexuality that we know for certain pertains to this film is among men, because Bette Davis has quite the role in gay subculture, probably because her voice has just the right amount of depth for gay men to do impressions. It doesn't exactly hurt that this film is pretty good to begin with, and yet, as worthy as this film is of all of its praise, there are indeed aspects to shake up its intrigue. The film's plot is so well drawn and handled that, to see the turn into the 1950s, this film is surprisingly unpredictable, but it can transcend conventions for only so long before succumbing to narrative tropes, if not moderate Hollywoodisms of the time. What distinguishes this film is its subtlety and depth as a drama of the '40s and '50s, but there are occasions of superficiality which might not be too glaring, but feel as though they are, in contrast to the subtleties, and under the pressure of the histrionics. I've heart warming of campiness, and although I hardly find cheesiness on that level, the razor-sharp dialogue occasionally gets improbably heavy-handed with its theatrical wit, while near-trite characterization thins down the depths of generally richly written and portrayed, to the point of being supplementary to a melodramatic plot. The plot is driven by melodramatics as a portrait on pursuing stardom through a companionship with, if not the overthrowing of an aging idol, and it's not entirely easy to buy in on them, partly because it seems as though they're compensating for natural shortcomings, which are obscured by inspired storytelling, but challenge one's investment even on paper. You have plenty of time to ponder upon the natural and consequential shortcomings, because among the bigger issues of the film is a length of almost 140 minutes which gets to be repetitious, maybe even aimless after a while, demanding quite a bit of patience. With entertainment value and dramatic intrigue, this film ought to firmly secure one's investment time and again, but its grip is loosened by subtle missteps whose betrayal of inspiration make it all the harder to disregard. The final product hasn't age completely with grace, but to be a film of its type and time, it's solid, and even to this day, it thoroughly compels, even in concept. Featuring the occasional tropes, and driven by melodramatics which attempt to compensate for natural shortcomings, this story concept is not especially meaty on its own, but its thematic value is rich with intrigue, exploring the ambiguities of the intentions of an aspiring actress working with an idol she may be aiming to succeed, and the paranoia of an aging talent who fears that her best years are behind her, and that she is to be overpowered by new talent. This story, for all its histrionics and natural shortcomings, is conceptually solid, and Joseph L. Mankiewicz tells it very well, at least as a director, structuring scenes more tightly than he does as writer, to where entertainment value is kept consistent, until the slow spots come in right when they need to, and grace this film with something that was a rare gem to find during this time: subtlety. Subtlety isn't entirely there on paper, but Mankiewicz's direction is rich with taste and generally defiant of Hollywood superficialities of the time, to where it explores dramatic and thematic potential thoroughly, with the help of worthy scripted material. Mankiewicz's writing is more flawed than his direction, arguably because it might be more ambitious, - to the point of bloating plotting into repetition, maybe even a hint of cheesiness - yet even it stands out for the time, and still impresses by today's standards, with generally crackling dialogue and an effective portrayal of the artistry of and corruption within the theatre. As for the individual characters, although some of them feel like types, most all major roles are distinguished, with depths and layers that bond with the melodramatic characterization generally organically enough to augment human intrigue, which is augmented best by quite the solid cast. About as consistently impressive as anything is the acting, which is realized across the board, with anyone from the charismatic George Sanders and the relatable Celeste Holm, to the lovely, if a touch dated and sometimes unevenly used (Maybe it isn't really "all about eve") Anne Baxter - who is initially endearing as an aspiring talent and innocent young lady who slowly, but surely begins to show dark colors when she finds her dreams realized, possibly at the expense of others' - and, of course, leading lady Bette Davis, who charismatically captures the sophistication of a more grounded starlet, brutally humanized by the fear of being replaced by a fresher face, and coming to terms with her age and humanity, and how she affects her peers, both positively and negatively. Davis' effectiveness is limited by now-dated material, but her nuance and dramatics layers are relatively spot-on, driving the depths of this surprisingly subtle drama, but not alone, as there is enough realization on and off of the screen to drive the final product as consistently compelling. "All" in "all", if you will, occasions of convention and superficiality are a little hard to ignore in the context of surprisingly tasteful storytelling, whose subtlety and grace are still challenged firmly by melodramatics which join repetitious dragging in emphasizing the natural shortcomings of this story of limited consequence, which is still rich with dramatic and thematic intrigue that is handled with enough effectiveness within the entertaining and engrossing direction, intelligent writing and strong performances which make "All About Eve" an uncommonly and rewardingly effective drama of cinema's golden era. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Mar 21, 2014
    One of the best films of all time. All about is a comedy about an ambitious actress wannabe scheming her way into the life of an older actress in order to replace her. The casting and acting were simply fantastic, I loved Bette Davis, it was possibly her best performance. The dialogues were subtle and got lots of tongue in cheek humour. There are lots of innuendos too and subtext within the dialogues. All about eve is a classic and a must see.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 04, 2013
    A sharp critique of America's undying obsession with celebrities, "All About Eve" is a strong, extremely relevant drama with incredible performances - perhaps the best work from each cast member - and a script that's influenced more than half of the films of its kind. It's quotable, funny and most of all has never been more powerful. Hollywood satires owe themselves to "All About Eve.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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