His Dark Materials
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A rare classic in the history of cinema. A must watch film for all movie lovers.
Show business satires have never quite equaled either All About Eve or Sunset Boulevard (1950). The writing, the performances, the style, the use of narration and the actors being willing to comment upon themselves make both films work so well and therefore it is difficult to call one better than the other. The story of women manipulating one another to attain power has appeared on screen several times with the recent success of The Favorite (2018) allowing for a resurgence in appreciation of the genre. This is the mother of them all however as we watch a dark narrative play out and feel almost ashamed in ourselves as we revel in the nastiness of it all.
A young theatre fan Eve Harrington, Anne Baxter, quickly ingratiates herself into the life of her idol, Broadway star Margo Channing, Bette Davis, but her intentions soon prove to be less than innocent. What follows is a game of manipulation in which we discover that Eve is not who she has sold herself to Margo and close friend Karen Richards, Celeste Holm, as and that her main ambition is to become a star, an ambition that she is willing to tear Margo down to achieve. Both women fight over a certain part in a stage play before Margo settles down with her younger boyfriend Bill Sampson, Gary Merrill, and Eve is manipulated by gossip columnist Addison DeWitt, George Sanders, after a brief dalliance with Lloyd Richards, Hugh Marlowe, Karen's husband. The final scene implies that the manipulation of stars by ambitious younger women is simply a cycle and Eve too will face her comeuppance.
What occurred to me when watching the film was how impeccably the dialogue was written. Every scene is filled with witty one liners and cultural references but they never distract from the drama at hand and small details such as Eve referencing a ‘Shubert Theatre in San Francisco', which doesn't exist, hint at the deeper cynicism of the film. Each character, even Miss Casswell, is complex and gets a moment to show just how vicious they are to have survived in the industry. The allusions to royalty throughout may be obvious but that doesn't make them any less effective as you imagine that the actresses talking about thrones and crowns did imagine being princesses as young girls but grew up and realized they needed to be Queens and rule the kingdom or theatre in order to survive.
The performances are superlative as everyone from Bette Davis to Celeste Holm portrays their character with an incredible amount of clarity as they deliver dialogue with that wonderful 1950s fromage. Davis gives what I believe to be one of her best performances as the ruthless, fading star who is manipulated by someone working right under her nose. The role works partly because of Davis' reputation as a diva and her rivalry with Joan Crawford as both were desperate to hold on to their stardom and prevent younger actresses from eclipsing them. Baxter is deliciously awful as she is almost sinister in how charming she appears initially but when we realize that she truly is villainous we can see how she has been playing everybody around her for so long. Holm is reliably fantastic, she is the best part of Gentleman's Agreement (1947), as the innocent who gets duped and ultimately feels guilty and Thelma Ritter excels as the tragic Birdie giving a naturalistic, intelligent performance amid showy, literate actors.
I would have given this film Best Picture because by the thinnest of margins I would call it better than the iconic Sunset Boulevard. I know that is a controversial choice but this is an impeccable film in which every element works perfectly and it deserves to be considered one of the greatest films of all time. The film touches on issues in show business but perhaps more interestingly it talks about the glass ceilings that women face and the encouragement of vicious competition between women causing bitterness. It makes you wonder, had conditions been better for women in Hollywood during this time period, would Joan Crawford and Bette Davis have feuded so publicly?
The first time I've seen either Bette Davis or Marilyn Monroe in a motion picture, All About Eve is a passionate and often illuminating portrayal of an actress on the downturn of her career, making way for the next generation but not without a fight. Davis is an extraordinary screen presence, with a gravelly voice and all the facial expressions in the world, she realistically depicts a starlet who was once on top of the world but is now being forced to accept that the limelight may not be shining on her for much longer. The film goes on too long in many scenes and I found the screenplay to be unnecessarily verbose, with many conversations dragging on because the characters insist on delivering long, fancified answered or explanations when short, concise ones would do much better. But the highlights are the quality of the acting and the rivalry between Eve and Margot, which begins out friendly but slowly disintegrates into spitefulness and envy as one individual's success overtakes the other. Due to its length and excessive wordiness, I can't see myself rushing to see it again, but for a chance to see so many big names of the mid-20th century duking it out on screen in classic fashion, I'm very happy I've seen in once.
One of those movies that stays with you afterwards. So very well acted by both Davis and Baxter. The storyline is timeless- be careful what you wish for!
Sizzling drama with shocking intrigue and satire of Hollywood.
All About Eve (1950) is timeless because of its honest and blunt story about a girl wanting to be a star, even at the cost of the love and respect of those around her. Writer and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz simply rivets you with a tale of dazzling talent of shrewd betrayal.
You have to care about filmmaking, Hollywood, celebrities, acting, casting, and fame to really appreciate All About Eve, but the basic narrative about treachery and jealousy is universal.
Bette Davis is perfect as the jealous diva aging disgracefully with lewd biting remarks.
Anne Baxter is sublime as the sweet and innocent pretender desiring fame and success above all. Baxter is particularly enchanting and terrifying in her complex role.
With an all star supporting cast ranging from George Sanders to Marilyn Monroe herself, All About Eve captures the seedy underbelly of show business like never before! It's remarkable how Mankiewicz basically has many of his ensemble playing versions of themselves. He's satirizing and critiquing the shallow and disloyal Hollywood populace, while also admiring the film and theater industries.
That is the key to All About Eve's success. Mankiewicz directed a classic about how much he clearly loved the movies and plays, but he must have felt compelled to address the lesser attributes to the world he lived in with All About Eve. It's all a vicious cycle of people using others for their own advantages in the end, but All About Eve is entertaining and devastating to witness unfold.
The film boasts a big name cast but doesn't do a lot with it. The drama is there for sure, but I'm not much for films that are about filmmaking and theater. It's just an excuse for the Academy to stroke it's own arrogance generally and the "hardships" they endure. Everybody gives a good performance, but contrary to popular opinion I don't think even Davis put in an amazing performance. The film discusses the back-handedness of the theater and film industries, although this kind of thing is found in many other professions as well. I think the reason it won Best Picture is because it's a film where the Academy gets to feel important and they tend to gravitate to films like that. There were some comedic moments, but it wasn't much of a knee slapper, the drama and twist were good but formulaic and there are a number of plot holes that go unanswered. The film's message is that people will do anything to get into theater and mirrors a lot of the journeys that people took to get into it in the first place (like I said, it's why it appeals to them) and that you can't take everything someone says at face value, but I've found that is quite a cynical way to look at things. You can't be naive, but giving people the benefit of the doubt more often helps than harms, in my experience.
Like so many of Mankiewicz's movies, overlong - but his legendary 1951 backstabbing backstage melodrama is leavened by excellent performances, a waspish screenplay by Mankiewicz himself, and lush production values. Claustrophobic and relentlessly cynical and very very theatrical.
This film was solid.
All about eve is a one of the most smartest movies I have ever seen. A story about fame, glory and backstabbing present in Hollywood. Every scene is deliberate. The films ending is shows the constant back stabbing in Hollywood the danger of fame and how the cycle continues
Its says a lot about Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve that 67 years after it's initial release it still holds up as one of the finest examples comic dramas ever shown on screen. It is a film that can be viewed as the rule book for aspiring screenwriters, the swift notes for student actors and a timely lesson to all film fans that a well told parable, with a smart dialogue and talented cast wins hands down over any CGI effects, camera tricks or show stopping stunts that technology can muster up.
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 naive Eve is a Machiavellian conniver who cold-bloodily 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.
Thematically multi-layered, this sharp and witty written film won 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and a Best Supporting Actor for the magnificent George Sanders.
In fact it has the unique honour of seeing two actresses and two actors nominated in the Best Actor/Best Actress category at the Academy Awards - a feat that has not been repeated since.
Unsullied by the demands and technology of modern cinema, this classic Hollywood tale is a wonderful insight to the backstabbing backstage of Broadway as the heavy weight bout between these two divas comes fuelled with poisonous yet witty dialogue in a timely reminder that as the cliche goes "the don't make em like they used to"!