ALL ABOUT EVE  [Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook] [Blu-ray] [US Import] Fasten Your Seat Belts! First Time on Blu-ray! It’s All about Women . . . and Their Men!
From the moment she glimpses her idol on Broadway, Eve Harrington [Anne Baxter] strives to upstage Margo Channing [Bette Davis]. After cunningly stealing Margo’s role, Eve disrupts the lives of anyone close to the actress in this timeless cinematic masterpiece that earned a record 14 OSCARS®, Nominations, and Winning Six — including Best Picture!
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 1951 Academy Award® Winners: Best Picture: 20th Century Fox. Best Directing: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Best Writing [Screenplay]: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Best Actor in a Supporting Role: George Sanders. Best Costume Design [Black-and-White]. Best Sound Recording. Academy Award® Nominees: Best Actress: Bette Davis. Best Actress: Anne Baxter. Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Celeste Holm. Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Thelma Ritter. Best Art Direction [Black-and-White]. Best Cinematography [Black-and-White]. Best Film Editing. Best Music. ‘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.
Cast: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Thelma Ritter, Gregory Ratoff, Barbara Bates, Marilyn Monroe, Walter Hampden, Randy Stuart, Craig Hill, Leland Harris, Barbara White, Eddie Fisher, William Pullen, Claude Stroud, Eugene Borden, Helen Mowery, Steven Geray, Gertrude Astor (uncredited), Ralph Brooks (uncredited), Jack Chefe (uncredited), James Conaty (uncredited), Franklyn Farnum (uncredited), Bess Flowers (uncredited), Carl M. Leviness (uncredited), Harold Miller (uncredited), Stanley Orr (uncredited), Marion Pierce (uncredited), 'Snub' Pollard (uncredited), Larry Steers (uncredited) and Robert Whitney (Actor in 'Hearts of Oak' uncredited)
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenplay: Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Mary Orr (story "The Wisdom of Eve") (uncredited)
Composer: Alfred Newman
Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Video Resolution: 1080p [Black-and-White]
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 1.0 Mono Audio, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital, French: 5.1 DTS, Portuguese [Brazil]: 5.1 Dolby Digital, German: 5.1 DTS, Italian: 5.1 DTS, Russian: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish [Castilian]: 5.1 DTS and Thai: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese [Brazil], Danish, Finish, German, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Greek, Chinese, Icelandic, Hebrew, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai and Ukrania
Running Time: 138 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: 20th Century-Fox set a record for OSCAR® nominations that has been matched, even by Titanic in 1997, but never beaten with ‘All About Eve,’ the witty 1950 comedy set in the New York theatre scene. Greeted with almost universal acclaim on its initial release, the film has become a classic whose lines, characters and story elements are now firmly entrenched in popular culture.
‘All About Eve’ possesses one of the best screenplays ever to grace the silver screen. It also has one of the best performances by an actress in the history of Hollywood features. For his writing, Joseph Mankiewicz was honoured by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an OSCAR® for his sterling work. For her acting, Bette Davis was snubbed in favour of Judy Holliday for ‘Born Yesterday’ and arguably the weakest of the five nominees. Common wisdom suggests that since both Bette Davis and co-star Anne Baxter were nominated in the Best Actress category for ‘All About Eve,’ they split the vote, resulting in neither of them winning. For a number of reasons, some intentional and some coincidental, ‘All About Eve’ stands out as one of the best dramas ever produced under the Hollywood system. In fact, the film relies so strongly on dialogue and has such a limited number of sets, that it could easily be mistaken for a film adaptation of a stage play. The fact that the film deals with the behind-the-scenes goings-on in theatre serves only to strengthen this erroneous assumption. Bette Davis' reputation was cemented by two films: ‘Jezebel,’ which was made early in her career and for which she received an OSCAR® and ‘All About Eve,’ which rescued her from oblivion and re-established her on the A-list. Ask anyone today what scene typifies Bette Davis, and chances are the response will involve the words: "Fasten your seatbelts. It's gonna be a bumpy night."
The storyline is simple, as befits a fantastic brilliant film, that's more about words, characters, and human motivation than about narrative. The uncomplicated nature of the plot also allows Joseph L. Mankiewicz to get away with straightforward, traditional camerawork. Many critics have noted that the only aspect of ‘All About Eve’ that prevents it from being mentioned in the same breath as ‘Sunset Boulevard’ with the pedestrian nature of its visuals. There's nothing wrong with Joseph L. Mankiewicz's approach, but the director's strengths lie in his writing and his rapport with actors.
Eve Harrington [Anne Baxter] is a Margo Channing groupie. She attends every one of Margo Channing's Broadway appearances and hangs around outside of the theatre in a trench coat. But she lacks the gumption to meet her idol until the day when Margo's friend, Karen Richard [Celeste Holm], brings her to Margo's dressing room. Margo takes an instant liking to younger woman, and a grateful Eve begins to act as an unofficial secretary for Margo Channing. All goes well until Margo Channing begins to suspect that Eve's ultimate goal isn't just to work for her, but to replace her. Margo Channing's fears are justified when Eve makes a play for Margo Channing's lover, Bill Sampson [Gary Merrill], and tries to "steal" Margo Channing's role in an upcoming play written by Karen's husband, Lloyd [Hugh Marlowe]. Aside from Margo Channing, the only one to see through Eve's façade is theatre critic Addison DeWitt [George Sanders], but he has reasons of his own to keep silent.
Other than Bette Davis and George Sanders, the only acting standout is the brilliant Thelma Ritter, who is a totally delightfully [tart with a heart] as Birdie, Margo Channing's confidante. Birdie disappears about half-way through the film, but only after she has planted the seeds of doubt about Eve Harrington in Margo Channing's mind. As the title character, Anne Baxter is adequate, but not outstanding. Her primary weakness is that she proves unequal to the task of portraying a single-minded bitch. During the film's first half, when she is required to put forth a façade of naïveté, she is effective. But, when Eve Harrington's true colours emerge, Anne Baxter's performance goes slightly flat.
Aside from Bette Davis' performance, which is one for the ages, the screenplay represents the reason not only to see, but to savour, ‘All About Eve.’ Nearly every significant character has a quotable moment, and there's never a time when more than a few minutes go by without someone uttering something deliciously edgy. Davis and George Sanders get the best of the best lines, and their delivery (hers full and bold; his dry and sardonic) enhances the quality of what Joseph L. Mankiewicz penned. ‘All About Eve’ contains lines guaranteed to delight even the most discriminating viewer, from Margo declaring, "I detest cheap sentiment" to Addison remarking, "You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent!"
Based on the screenplay, one might assume that Joseph L Mankiewicz possessed a vast in-depth knowledge of the theatre. After all, ‘All About Eve’ takes some of the film-dom's most vicious jabs at the backstage wrangling involved in getting a play into production, building a career, and appeasing a fickle public. In reality, however, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's entire career was in the cinema, and, when he tried to do something similar to ‘All About Eve’ for the motion picture industry, like ‘The Barefoot Contessa,’ he sadly failed. Although Joseph L. Mankiewicz's screenplay is loosely based on Mary Orr's fact-based Cosmopolitan piece, "The Wisdom of Eve," nearly everything that is memorable in the script comes from the writer/director's own fertile imagination. The dialogue is his, as is the desire to "psychoanalyse" the characters. Joseph L. Mankiewicz was a proponent of therapy long before it was in vogue.
For nearly everyone involved in ‘All About Eve’ [Marilyn Monroe excepted], the film represented a career pinnacle. Joseph L. Mankiewicz never came close to attaining this level again, and, while this was far from the final hurrah for Bette Davis, it was her last truly great role. However, considering how few people in Hollywood have been involved in a production this good, it's no shame to say they never again attained this kind of success. ‘All About Eve’ is one of the 1950s true gems and a worthy holder of the 1951 Best Picture OSCAR® and a motion picture that, because of its priceless dialogue and lead performances, that forever will never lose its lustre.
With its combination of scathing satire, razor sharp dialogue, and compelling drama, ‘All About Eve’ is a film that grows more fascinating with each viewing. Through its criticism of celebrity, the story’s plot may be even more relevant in today’s celebrity obsessed culture than it was upon its initial release. The film’s top tier performances include personal bests for Bette Davis and George Sanders and a star making bit part turn by a then unknown Marilyn Monroe; all in parts in which art eerily imitates life. So fasten your seatbelts, and settle in for one hilariously bumpy ride courtesy of Margo, Eve, and the witty world of theatre that they inhabit. It is a truly great cinema is timeless. With its sophisticated script and a brilliant performance by Bette Davis and Anne Baxter, ‘All About Eve’ is a film as timeless as they come. And an immensely entertaining one as well.
The legend of ‘All About Eve’ didn't end with the OSCARS® and not only did it remain popular in theatrical re-issues and later on television, but it eventually became a cult film, particularly among gay fans who identified with Margo Channing's larger-than-life personality. Her warning "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night" became the most quoted of the film's many famous lines. The story of an understudy scheming to replace the star has been referenced in everything from the hilariously excessive ‘Showgirls’  to Pedro Almodovar's OSCAR® winner ‘All About My Mother’ [1999. The script itself was set to music for the hit 1970 Broadway musical “Applause,” starring Lauren Bacall as Margo Channing, but Anne Baxter stepped into the leading role after Lauren Bacall left the show.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is faithfully reproduced with a stunning 1080p encoded image. The image is very clean with none of the dirt or scratches that afflicted the first inferior NTSC DVD release of the film. The grey scale rendering is really top notch with excellent sharpness and resolution which reveals weaves in herringbone jackets and silk dresses making them almost palpable. Black levels can be very good but do vary from sequence to sequence.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The Blu-ray offers you both 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 1.0 Mono Audio soundtrack. Both feature slight hiss in the film’s quieter moments. The main and end title music is spread nicely across the fronts and there is some evidence of some low end during the marvellous Alfred Newman composed main titles, but with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio the rear surrounds and subwoofer really are not used to any real degree. The recording of the marvellous dialogue, of course, is of paramount importance, and it's handled with care and replicated here to perfection. But one word of warning, with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, the sound goes out of sync when the actors speak all the way through the film by a slight minuscule fraction, so you would be advised to stick with the 1.0 Mono Audio soundtrack, as you will see what I mean when you view the extras.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
A Beautiful 24 page Collectable Deluxe Limited Edition DigiBook: It has a generous collection of stills along with text pages on “The Diva Bette Davis,” “The Ingénue Anne Baxter,” “The Critic George Sanders,” “The Protégée Marilyn Monroe,” “The Writer and Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz” and “The Genius of Eve.”
Audio Commentary: Commentary by Actress Celeste Holm, Ken Geist [Joseph L. Mankiewicz Biographer] and Christopher Mankiewicz: Here we get an introduction by Christopher Mankiewicz and informs us that they are here to talk about ‘All About Eve.’ Then Celeste Holm introduces herself and sounded terrible like she had a bad throat and informs us that she played the part of Karen Richards. Next up we hear from Ken Geist, who informs us that he has written a book about Joseph L. Mankiewicz back in 1978 and on top of all that, two years previous to this audio commentary Ken Geist wrote a book about ‘All About Eve,’ but also informs us that he was sent a copy of “All, All About Eve” which he loathed and detested. Christopher tells us that whenever Joseph L. Mankiewicz attended festivals and with the discussion groups, they always wanted to bring up the subject of “The Sarah Siddons Award” and it use to drive him nuts. But he informs them that he invented the award for the film via the props department, but of course art intimidated life and eventually became a real award. Next up is Celeste Holm, but because of her bad throat and sadly sounded like Walt Disney’s Mini Mouse, so does not speak much, but when Celeste Holm does, tells us that Joseph L. Mankiewicz in the only director she knew who would cut the film while filming, by putting his hand over the lens and say, “cut” and then the actors would continue the scene, so not to stop the flow of the actors performance. Richard Burton summed up Joseph L. Mankiewicz by saying, “He could have been an Oxford Don and was an extraordinary man who knew extraordinary things.” So we come to the end of this audio commentary and I give it a definite 5 star rating and is a must view.
Audio Commentary: Commentary by Author Sam Staggs: With this audio commentary, we get a great introduction from Sam Staggs and he informs us that he is an author of “All About Eve,” which he also informs us that it is about being the biggest back stabbing film ever made and the book was published in 2000. Sam Staggs informs us that when the script was being produced, the film was originally going to be called “Best Performance,” but when Darryl F. Zanuck saw the other words “All About Eve” told Joseph L. Mankiewicz that this was going to be the Title of the film. 8 minutes into the film where Anne Baxter is lurking in the shadows in the, it was actually filmed at a theatre in San. Bette Davis recalls that the film saved her career, because her time at Warner Bros. had ended after 18 years. Sam Stagg mention about the fabulous Thelma Ritter who could see through the lies of Eve Harrington with the ensemble guests in the dressing room, and that is why Joseph L. Mankiewicz thought that Ms. Thelma Ritter was robbed of an OSCAR®, but at least got some award in the end for her part in ‘All About Eve.’ One interesting fact comes to light, is that after the Birthday Party, we never get to see Ms. Thelma Ritter again. We also find out that George Sanders, despite his cut glass English accent, was actually born in St. Petersburg in Russia, and we have always assumed he was the perfect Englishman. Sam Staggs also points out that where we see the street scenes of New York, the scenes were filmed with lookalike extras, when we see the car driving through the wintery snowy scenes, well this was filmed near the border of Canada. And so ends another interesting audio commentary and especially Sam Staggs informs us other information about behind-the-scenes of ‘All About Eve’ that you do not hear in the previous audio commentary and well worth a listen.
Special Feature: The disc contains the isolated Alfred Newman’s Oscar-nominated score in a very generous [bit rate] 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
Special Feature: Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz  [1080p] [16:9] [26:00] Here we are introduced to Tom Mankiewicz [Son of Joseph L. Mankiewicz] who talks glowingly about his famous father and especially as an accomplished screenwriter. Christopher Mankiewicz [Son of Joseph L. Mankiewicz] who talks about when Joseph L. Mankiewicz moved to California at the beginning of talking pictures, where he had a job writing the Titles for the silent films and soon became a producer and eventually a director. Next up is Rick Jewell [Author of “The Golden Age of Cinema – 1929-1945”] who talks glowingly about Joseph L. Mankiewicz and states that if he had never ever done another film, apart from ‘All About Eve,’ his reputation would be assured. Next up is Kenneth L. Geist [Author of “Pictures Will Talk: The Life and Films of Joseph L. Mankiewicz”] who tells us ‘All About Eve’ is the directors finest script, and it contained his most brilliant wit. Next up we have Rosemary Mickiewicz [Wife of Joseph L. Mankiewicz] who tells us that when in London and ‘All About Eve’ was playing and was very impressed and Rosemary in her wildest dreams, never ever thought that Joseph L. Mankiewicz would have ever thought they would get married eventually. So ends a really nice special and well worth viewing. Happy viewing!
Special Feature: Joseph L. Mankiewicz: A Personal Journey  [1080p] [16:9] [25:59] At the start of this special, we get a clip from ‘All About Eve,’ where Bette Davis does her little speech stuck in the car with Celeste Holm. At first cab of the rank with this contribution is again Tom Mankiewicz [Son of Joseph L. Mankiewicz] and states, “Joseph L. Mankiewicz was a filmmaker of a kind that does not exist anymore today, and would totally respect his audience.” Next up is Christopher Mankiewicz [Son of Joseph L. Mankiewicz] who informs us that is father was very erudite, and informed human being, that you will ever find. Jean Luc Goddard called Joseph L. Mankiewicz the most intelligent filmmaker ever. Next up we have again Rosemary Mickiewicz [Wife of Joseph L. Mankiewicz] who informs us that Joseph’s father was born in berlin and immigrated to America as a poet at 17 years of age, met his future wife and got married in 1846 and eventually had one daughter and two sons, and one of those was Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who over time went to Columbia University and at the age of 19 went to Germany in the 1920s. But over time came back to America and got a job in 1932 with M-G-M, where he became a writer and a director. Then he moved onto 20th Century Fox, where he got a job as a screenwriter and eventually directed the film ‘A Letter To Three Wives’ and that’s when his career took off. And so ends another fascinating special and was a joy to watch and it is a definite must view. Happy viewing!
Special Feature: The Real Eve  [1080p] [16:9] [18:11] This is a look behind the character Anne Baxter in ‘All About Eve’ and the contributors are Jonathan Kuntz [Film Professor of UCLA], Harry Hawn [Writer for Playbill Magazine] talk about the nasty back stabbing that goes on in the theatre and the fact there are 3 women that are part of the characters in ‘All About Eve.’ There is Elizabeth Bergner, who was the inspiration for Margo Channing, who did ‘As You Like It’ with Lord Laurence Olivier in 1953. Then we have Mary Orr, who was and actress and writer friend of Elizabeth Bergner, who was also a very good writer and actress, who had a great success on Broadway in the 1940s, but her greatest success was putting a short story together, on the inside view of Broadway, that eventually appeared in the May 1946 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine, entitled “The Wisdom of Eve,” that Joseph L. Mankiewicz heard about the story and bought up the rights to the story and eventually gave a springboard into making the film ‘All About Eve.’ So ends another fascinating special and again well worth a view. Happy viewing!
Special Feature: The Secret of Sarah Siddons  [1080p] [16:9] [7:05] With the start of this special, we again get to view the start of the film ‘All About Eve,’ where Eve Harrington receives The Sarah Siddons Award. But to everyone’s surprise and me, but there is an actual Sarah Siddons Society still running since its inception and idea from when ‘All About Eve’ was released in the cinema. We get contributions from the likes of Lisa Orgolini [Actress], Chris Jones [Theatre Critic of the Chicago Times] Donna Beaumont Atwater [Co-chairperson of The Sarah Siddons Society] and Mary Lou Bilder [Co-chairperson of The Sarah Siddons Society] who all inform us that there was an actual Sarah Siddon, who was a prominent diva actress in the 18th Century and was big on the English Stage and eventually became a member of the King’s Court and did performances for the Royal Group and her main contribution was doing all of the Shakespearian plays. We also get informed that to be part of The Sarah Siddons Society, you have to be invited and perform on the stage in Chicago, where the society is based. People who have received the Sarah Siddon Award in the past and in the 21st Century, have been Ms. Helen Hayes, Ms. Julie Harris, Ms. Deborah Kerr, Ms. Lauren Bacall, Ms. Bette Davis and even Nancy Reagan, to name but a few. Ironically, there is an actual portrait of Sarah Siddon and you can see it on the wall in ‘All About Eve’ when Ms. Bette Davis rushes down the stars to the birthday party, for her partner. This again was another fascinating special feature and so informative.
Special Feature: AMC Backstory®: All About Eve  [480i] [4:3] [24:20] This looks like it was a made for TV Special and we delve into loads of information about ‘All About Eve’ and the narrator aims his thoughts on Ms. Bette Davis. And we get a rare glimpse with a 1983 interview with Ms. Bette Davis extolling that the film was her greatest success. We also get contributions from Tom Mankiewicz [Son of Joseph L. Mankiewicz] praising his father, who helped to make ‘All About Eve’ the classic film is still is today. We also get to hear again how the film came about, because of the short story by Mary Orr that appeared in the Cosmopolitan Magazine. The other contributor is Rudy Behlmer [Film Historian] and tells us that the title of the script was “More About Eve,” but Darryl F. Zanuck decided it should be called “All About Eve” and of course history has been made, with just one word change. We also find out while the shooting of the film, Ms. Bette Davis fell in love with Garry Merrill, but both were still married, eventually both got their divorces and at the end of the shooting of ‘All About Eve’ in June 1950, both couples went down to Mexico to get married, but eventually after 10 years, they both separated and got divorced. We are also informed that ‘All About Eve’ boosted Ms. Bette Davis career, as before that her career start to wane a bit, but of course Ms. Bette Davis will always be remembered as Margo Channing and re-established her career as one of Hollywood’s greatest star. So ends another interesting special, that again is very informative and well worth viewing. Happy viewing!
Special Feature: Vintage Bette Davis Promotion  [480i] [4:3] [01:21] At the start of this very short feature, the headline screams at us SCOOP! Bette Davis tells NEWSWEEK Magazine ‘All About Eve.’ Then the next announcement states, “Reporter Leonard Slater interviews famous actress on set.” Well I find that last statement slightly insulting, because why couldn’t they have inserted the words Ms. Bette Davis, very strange? Ms. Bette Davis talks about her character Margo Channing, but before you realise it, the whole thing is over in an instance and I cannot understand why they could not have shown more of the interview.
Special Feature: Vintage Anne Baxter Promotion  [480i] [4:3] [01:27] Once again at the start of this very short feature, the headline announcement says, EXTRA! Anne Baxter tells Woman’s Hone Companion ‘All About Eve’ and then the next announcement says, “Reporter interviews Academy Award Winner on the set.” Again why couldn’t they have inserted the name Ms. Anne Baxter in the headline, which again I think is very insulting and very strange? Here the reporter talks intimately about marriage and Anne Baxter’s character in ‘All About Eve’ and again like the previous interview, before you know it, it is all over in a flash.
Special Feature: Fox Movietone News: 1951 Academy Awards® Honor Best Film Achievements  [480i] [4:3] [02:30] Apart from the Academy Awards® for ‘All About Eve,’ we also get to see Academy Awards® for other achievements in the film industry.
Special Feature: Fox Movietone News: 1951 Hollywood Attends Gala Premiere of ‘All About Eve’  [480i] [4:3] [01:53] here we get an announcement that the Premiere for ‘All About Eve’ was held at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood and we also get to see the Roosevelt Hotel special neon sign on the side of the building with the words ALL ABOUT EVE. We also get a host of luminaries from ‘All About Eve’ and other well-known stars. We also get to see Ms. Bette Davis with a Marine escort, to be inducted and immortalised outside the Chinese Theater where Ms. Bette Davis puts her seal of approval in the cement, but it was also to celebrate Ms. Bette Davis crowning glory for her role in ‘All About Eve.’
Special Feature: Holiday Magazine Awards  [480i] [4:3] [02:50] We get to see the first Award given to Joseph L. Mankiewicz, but unfortunately he could not attend because he had a very busy schedule, so Mr. Clifton Webb [Actor] accepted the Award on his behalf. But what was off putting about this feature is that the camera operator was totally unprofessional and it all ends abruptly, without warning.
Special Feature: Look Magazine Awards  [480i] [4:3] [01:54] Appearing on the stage is Mr. Bob Hope, who is handing out Two Special Awards and one goes to Joseph L. Mankiewicz and the other goes to Ms. Bette Davis and both say a few words thanking Mr. Bob Hope for the Awards. But out of the blue Mr. James Stewart appears without warning next to Bob Hope. But one nice point in the short film is where Bob Hope has some fun banter with Ms. Bette Davis, asking why they haven’t made a picture together.
Theatrical Trailer  [480i] [4:3] [03:08] Here we get a repeat selections from the “Vintage Bette Davis Promotion” and also different excerpts from the film ‘All About Eve.’ Once again the sound is very muffled and a shame 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment could not have found a better print or at least cleaned it up for such a very important classic film.
Finally, it is one of THE all-time greatest film ever made, ‘All About Eve’ comes to high definition in an appealing package that has been transposed over from the from previous inferior NTSC DVD releases, along with excellent picture and more than adequate sound choices. ‘All About Eve’ has substance in virtually every dramatic and romantic mood, which have been given proper shading and projection by producer Darryl F. Zanuck and screenwriter/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It is also a tour-de-force performance by Ms. Bette Davis and the one film I most associate as the definitive and ultimate Bette Davis performance and is a grand performance by all and I especially love Ms. Thelma Ritter and Mr. George Sanders in their supporting roles. It's just a wonderful film. It is a must see for every serious film student or film aficionado. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
on July 14, 2002
I prefer more visual movies (Hitchcock, Welles, Hawks), but every now and then I like to watch a movie that's got perfect dialogue. And, having seen it for the first time in a long while, I forgot how much I loved "All About Eve." Firstly, it appeals to my cynical nature. But, secondly, each character is so sharply defined, the dialogue so perfectly tailored to each actor that you just have to marvel at Joseph Mankiewicz' screenplay.
"All About Eve" is a brilliant, caustic and cynical movie that centers around the disparate personalities of three women, though it hardly can be called a "chick flick." "Click flicks" ultimately wallow in romance novel sentimentality that no woman actually believes in, except as futile wishful thinking. "All About Eve" instead gives the viewer a double-shot of reality with no chaser.
Margo Channing, played by Bette Davis, plays an aging stage actress who's become quite accustomed to being The Star, onstage and off. More than just a woman, Margo is a force of nature. Tempestuous, spoiled and insecure, she can turn into Hurricane Margo at the drop of a hat (or a hint about her age).
Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington, a snake in the grass and veiled temptress who recalls that other Eve (the Biblical one). With single-minded purposefulness, she sets on a course to undermine Margo, in order to take over her spot in the limelight. Eve knows enough about human nature to climb over corpses on the way to the top, but to do so without even having to lift a finger. This is the genius of Manckiewicz's crafting of her character. Eve is the most cunning of any villain I've yet to encounter: As crafty as Iago, backstabbing like Brutus and as icily emotionless as Mrs. Danvers, Eve merely stands by as she engineers situations behind the scenes that exploit her friends' weaknesses and jealousies. The beauty of it is that Eve comes out the victim and the victor, her credibility raised a notch as she comes out of her shrewd manipulations as lily-white as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
There are some today, who view this movie as a relic; that the catiness of its female leads was some kind of anti-woman sexism on the part of Mankiewicz. Bosh! Unlike the Pollyanna Phillistines of the Gender Studies department, Manck never had on any blinders or rose-coloured glasses on when it came to human nature. Any honest woman will -- and I agree -- tell you that women can be much more vicious than men, and this screenplay gorgeously fleshes out this observation.
If anything, the men in this movie come out looking a bit slower and naive than the women. From the start, Eve wraps playwright Lloyd Richards (played by Hugh Marlowe, in his best role) around her finger, and finagles a leading role in his new play at Margo's expense. Lloyd is all agog over Eve, though Lloyd's wife, the hard-headed realist with a heart, Karen (Celeste Holm) immediately sees right through her ruse. Accused of cynicism by Lloyd, she retorts "That cynicism as you call it, I got the day I discovered I was different from little boys!"
Even a self-confirmed cynic as Margo's fiance, director Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill) is at first snowed by Eve's act, and admires her for what he believes is her youthful idealism in emulating Margo (which we later see is how the pods emulated the townsfolk in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers").
The only man who sees through Eve right from the start (long after all the women in the movie had her number) is drama critic Addison DeWitt -- played with droll sophistication by that cad's cad, George Sanders --who's seen every trick, especially since his office is apparently an anteroom to further "casting couches" for young ingenues. The battle of wits between Addison and Eve at the end of this movie will leave you breathless, though it's clear that Eve has more than met her match in the controlling, dominating Addison.
"All About Eve" is the Great Black Comedy, because of the ironic observation that Eve didn't even need to use her treachery and backstabbing ruses to get to the top; She was surrounded by friends who were more than happy to nurture her in her struggle in the theatre. But that's the beauty of Eve's characterisation: She is so evil, so blackhearted, that she thinks the only way to the top is by screwing everyone over, even when no one's mounting opposition to her progress.
"All About Eve" is a textbook on economy of dialogue, sharp wit and well-placed punches. Certainly, the 1940s and 50s were an era in which the craft of screen-writing was a highly polished one, versus the casual, aimless grunt-and-groan-and-sigh scripts of today. And "All About Eve" is the most brilliant of gems. I always admired the movies of Hawks, Wilder, Hitchcock and John Huston for their use of innuendo and understatement, implying rather than explicating meaning within the conversation. Mankiewicz' uniqueness is his use of this technique not in making the dialogue more indirect, subtle and mysterious, but in using
turn-of-phrase in making it more direct, uncomfortable and brutally honest. That is genius.