ALL ABOUT EVE
by Nerd in a Comfy Chair
ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
Where Was I When I First Saw The Movie?
To be honest…I don’t remember.
I have seen this movie so many times that they have all blurred together. I know I was young. But at 47 that has become a relative term.
I do know that it was my first introduction to Bette Davis.
She owned me from the moment those knowing eyes looked out from the screen.
Here was the embodiment of strength in a woman. She was no nonsense. She owned a room when she came into it. She commanded your attention. She was the master of any conversation she became a part of…or began.
She was a woman of power…and I adored her…and sought after that type of person in my life for years to come. This was the type of woman that I wanted to be around — as a friend, a partner in crime, or lifelong partner, in all adventures.
I’ve been blessed enough to find a few of these folks (both male and female) and, trust me, you want them on your side when the chips are down.
They are protectors of what’s right.
They are the person who listens to what you need and will figure out how to make it possible…by any means necessary…and not for their personal gain. Simply because you need it.
The important part is that they are also one hundred percent their own person. Which is rare feat in this world of whom “owns” whom…simply because they are a part of your life and feel it is their right to do so. They are their own person and so are you. You don’t have to always entertain them or spot check them…and they know they don’t have to do the same for you. You can be two people in a room…doing two different things…and know that you don’t have to spoon out doses of attention to the other person just to make sure that you can still be in the same room with them.
You can just…be.
There is no such thing as “ownership” in Bette Davis’ world.
There is only, “I have your back as I know you have mine.” And to my young, and veryimpressionable, mind…this is what I came to believe was the base root of friendship…of what partnership was…male or female.
Bette Davis knew it. She taught masters classes on it…and, because of her, I learned it.
She taught fierce independence, but to be there for your true friends when they needed it. She taught that…in the movie world…no one messed with the family (blood or not) and she made sure of it. Another life lesson for me…that I carry to this day.
But the best part about people like Bette Davis?
That wicked grin that they share with you — that sideways knowing glance — because they can see that some new adventure is coming…and they are already mapping out the best route to help you get there — because their mind is already halfway down the rabbit hole and can see the possibilities.
I hope you have people like this in your life…because I do.
And one more word about those “Bette Davis” eyes…and their knowing glance. Long before the song…I knew what they meant….and I couldn’t wait to see them again.
And…in my life…I don’t have to wait long.
What Is It About?
Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The film stars Bette Davis as Margo Channing, a highly regarded but aging Broadway star. Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington, a willingly helpful young fan who insinuates herself into Channing’s life, ultimately threatening Channing’s career and her personal relationships. George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Barbara Bates, Gary Merrill and Thelma Ritter also appear, and the film provided one of Marilyn Monroe‘s earliest important roles.
Praised by critics at the time of its release, All About Eve was nominated for 14 Academy Awards (a feat unmatched until the 1997 film Titanic) and won six, including Best Picture. As of 2013, All About Eve is still the only film in Oscar history to receive four female acting nominations (Davis and Baxter as Best Actress, Holm and Ritter as Best Supporting Actress). All About Eve was selected in 1990 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was among the first 50 films to be registered. All About Eve appeared at #16 on AFI‘s 1998 list of the 100 best American films.
At an awards dinner, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) — the newest and brightest star on Broadway — is being presented the Sarah Siddons Award for her breakout performance as Cora in Footsteps on the Ceiling. Theatre critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) observes the proceedings and, in a sardonic voiceover, recalls how Eve’s star rose as quickly as it did.
The film flashes back a year. Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is one of the biggest stars on Broadway, but despite her success she is bemoaning her age, having just turned forty and knowing what that will mean for her career. After a performance one night, Margo’s close friend Karen Richards (Celeste Holm), wife of the play’s author Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), meets besotted fan Eve Harrington in the cold alley outside the stage door. Recognizing her from having passed her many times in the alley (as Eve claims to have seen every performance of Margo’s current play, Aged in Wood), Karen takes her backstage to meet Margo. Eve tells the group gathered in Margo’s dressing room — Karen and Lloyd, Margo’s boyfriend Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill), a director who is eight years her junior, and Margo’s maid Birdie (Thelma Ritter) — that she followed Margo’s last theatrical tour to New York after seeing her in a play in San Francisco. She tells a moving and involving story of a difficult life, including losing her young husband in the recent war. She is becomingly humble and flattering in her idolization of Margo. In response, Margo quickly befriends Eve, moves her into her home, and takes her on as her assistant, leaving Birdie, who instinctively dislikes Eve, feeling put out.
Anne Baxter in wig and costume as Margo Channing’s understudy
While maintaining a seamless outward appearance of humility and of a desire only to serve, Eve is gradually shown to be working to supplant Margo, scheming to become her understudy behind her back (driving wedges between Margo and Lloyd and between Margo and Bill) and conspiring with an unsuspecting Karen to cause Margo to miss a performance. Eve, knowing in advance that she will be the one appearing that night, invites the city’s theatre critics to attend that evening’s performance, which is a triumph for her. Eve tries to seduce Bill, but he rejects her. Following a scathing newspaper column by Addison, Margo and Bill reconcile, dine with the Richardses, and decide to marry. That same night at the restaurant, Eve blackmails Karen into telling Lloyd to give her the part of Cora, by threatening to tell Margo of Karen’s role in Margo’s missed performance. Before Karen can talk with Lloyd, Margo announces to everyone’s surprise that she does not wish to play Cora and would prefer to continue in Aged in Wood. Eve secures the role and attempts to climb higher by using Addison, who is beginning to doubt her. Just before the premiere of her play at the Shubert in New Haven, Eve presents Addison with her next plan: to marry Lloyd, who, she claims, has come to her professing his love and his eagerness to leave his wife for her. Now, Eve exults, Lloyd will write brilliant plays showcasing her. Addison is infuriated that Eve has attempted to use him and reveals that he knows that her back story is all lies. Her real name is Gertrude Slojinski, and she is no war widow, no orphan, no follower of Margo’s tour. Before meeting Margo, she had been paid to leave town over her affair with her boss, a brewer in Wisconsin. Addison blackmails Eve, informing her that she will not be marrying Lloyd or anyone else; in exchange for Addison’s silence, she now “belongs” to him.
The film returns to the opening scene in which Eve, now a shining Broadway star headed for Hollywood, is presented with her award. In her speech, she thanks Margo and Bill and Lloyd and Karen with characteristic effusion, while all four stare back at her coldly. After the awards ceremony, Eve hands her award to Addison, skips a party in her honor, and returns home alone, where she encounters a young fan—a high-school girl—who has slipped into her apartment and fallen asleep. The young girl professes her adoration and begins at once to insinuate herself into Eve’s life, offering to pack Eve’s trunk for Hollywood and being accepted. “Phoebe” (Barbara Bates), as she calls herself, answers the door to find Addison returning with Eve’s award. In a revealing moment, the young girl flirts daringly with the older man. Addison hands over the award to Phoebe and leaves without entering. Phoebe then lies to Eve, telling her it was only a cab driver who dropped off the award. While Eve rests in the other room, Phoebe dons Eve’s elegant costume robe and poses in front of a multi-paned mirror, holding the award as if it were a crown. The mirrors transform Phoebe into multiple images of herself, and she bows regally, as if accepting the award to thunderous applause, while triumphant music plays.
Why Did I HAVE to Own It?
Bette Davis and the Theatre.
Do stories like ALL ABOUT EVE happen in the real world? After spending 31 solid years in the theatre, I have to tell you that…they do. And more often than you know.
Empirical actors who believe they own the world because of who they have been recently — I’ve met them and worked with them as an actor (as a director, I won’t tolerate it).
Scheming actors, who wait in the background, hoping for the “leads” in a show to fail to the point that they will be called upon to step up and assume the role — I’ve been at the receiving end of this horrid little mechanic and seen it far too often.
The parties where things are being said (but other things are meant)…and little bombshells are dropped (true or false) in order to discredit and get one’s career just that little inch further along — A big reason I don’t go to theatre parties or do well at them. But…it doesn’t matter…this has found its way to Social Media on a global scale.
I had to have this movie to remind me about all of those things in the profession that I love…so, that I will stay away from the aspects of it I don’t love and fight against those who do love them.
How Are The Extras?
Pretty bare bones…
- Gentleman’s Agreement Original Theatrical Trailer
- Cast Gallery
Maybe someday they tell me all about “All About Eve.”
What Format Do I Have It In?
DVD…and, looking at the ZIP amount of bonuses on the BluRay…I guess this is where I will stay.
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