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All About Eve

 

"Bottom line: one of the great stories of the theater, a classic Hollywood film not to be missed."

All About Eve by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter

The story of a young actress and her struggle to the top. Consumed by the desire to be famous she betrays all in her fight for recognition.

Review

Alfred Hitchcock famously observed that movies should be more than just picture postcards of people talking. Sometimes, though, dialogue is all that's needed. Joseph L. Mankiewicz's immaculately scripted All About Eve is a case in point. There are no special effects (unless one considers Marilyn Monroe's wiggle or a scene in which a car breaks down). What the movie offers instead is some of the most coruscating one-liners ever committed to celluloid.

The top-name cast certainly know how to put Mankiewicz's words across. Anne Baxter is all doe-eyed charm as Eve, the ruthless aspiring actress who passes herself off as a little girl lost. George Sanders (eminent character actor and the voice of Shere Khan the tiger in The Jungle Book) shows his customary mellowness of sneer as Addison De Witt, theatre critic and professional cynic ("a venomous foot louse" as he's characterised) who helps push Eve up the greasy pole toward success, if not happiness. Best of all is Bette Davis, a soured but still resplendent stage diva, who takes Eve under her wing. ("I'll admit I've seen better days but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail--like a salted peanut", she tells her lover.) The plotting and double-dealing on the screen, described in Sam Staggs' All About All About Eve: The Complete Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Bitchiest Film Ever Made, were matched by what went on behind the scenes. Davis heartily loathed fellow actress Celeste Holm who--ironically enough--plays her best friend. She fell in love with another co-star, the handsome, good-looking Gary Merrill, whom she later married. Backstage dramas are often self-indulgent and stagy affairs, but this one dazzles.

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