All About Eve. Where to start….
This is one of those films that my mum has ALWAYS been trying to get me to watch. “If you only watch one black and white film, Jennifer, it should be this one”. I ignored her most of my life, obviously. Mum has this on DVD and lent it to me recently for my viewing pleasure. I’d not heard anything else about it apart from that it’s listed in the AFI and BFI top 100 films of all time. So surely it must be good.
I eagerly put it in the DVD player and watched it for the first time last week; my eyes have been opened. What a genuinely fantastic film. It’s 2 hours of pure enjoyment about Margot Channing, a stage actress, played by Bette Davis, who gets introduced to the young fan Eve Harrington, played by Anne Baxter, in her dressing room one evening. It’s really funny from start to finish and the 2 hours went in a flash as we were so engrossed! Eve is in awe of Margot, she goes to every one of Margot’s shows. They quickly become friends and Margot takes Eve under her wing. This whole film is definitely a whilwind of friendship, suspicions, glamourous parties, media, awards and backstage backstabbing. It even features a very young Marylin Monroe! This must have been one of her first films.
Margot Channing is such a character. She’s really funny and likeable the whole way through even though she’s a bit of a diva. What I thought was truely beautiful about this film is that Bette Davis actually fell in love with the actor that plays her on screen love interest, Lloyd, played by Gary Merrill, when they were both already married. Bette and Gary actually went onto marry for 10 years. They say that Bette and Gary divorced because Gary really fell in love with the character of Margot Channing instead of Bette herself. Bette didn’t marry again after that.
Anyway, back to the film, I think this film is like the original, non-thriller version of Single White Female, the Barbet Schroeder film based on the book of the same name but about a girl who will do anything to get close to a certain person and try and dislodge them from where she is in life. Without giving the plot of the film away, take from that what you will. But if you enjoyed Single White Female, you’ll enjoy this. All About Eve isn’t a thriller, as I said, it’s most definitely a comedy/drama, but it has unnerving aspects about Eve, which made me keep thinking about Single White Female and made me want to watch that film again!
Bette Davis really lives up to her reputation in this film as one of the grestest actressess in the history of Hollywood. She proves just how great of an actress she is with her sterling performance throughout. I hear Bette was actually quite similar in real life to her character, which I think is such a gem and probably why she’s so good in this. She lets her comic and fun personality come through into Margot. It’s based on a true story as backsage backstabbing was definitely rife in Hollywood in those days. Bette Davis, as much as I love her, was notorious for having tiffs with various other actressess. She was best pally with her on screen rival, but hated her on screen best friend. Apparently when filming this she even made a comment about how Marylin Monroe’s kitty kat voice doesn’t make up for her bad acting, which I thought was quite funny. Sadly Marylin didn’t get a huge opportuinity to showcase her acting ability, dying so young. This is the first film I’ve seen her in but I’ll definitely be writing about Some Like It Hot soon so watch this space.
“It’s about time the piano realized it has not written the concerto!” – Lloyd Richards, All About Eve
I’ve never labelled myself a feminist but I do think All About Eve, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, is a very progressive film for it’s time. It’s wonderful that Bette Davis was the star in this film when she 42! That was really quite old for women in the 50s who were still acting, espcially to land such a leading role. She probably thought she was almost finished with acting but still got the part of this glamorous actress. And to think that nowadays older actressess are complaining there aren’t enough parts of older women. Also, 4 females were nominated for oscars based on their All About Eve performances. I want to see more films featuring these strong female actresses.
If rotten tomatoes is anything to go by, it has 100% in the tomatometer! I’ve not seen that on many films I’ve watched before. All About Eve is truely a charm and recommended to anyone that wants some entertainment for a couple of hours. It’s old, but timeless. You honestly forget that it’s even in black and white, you get so invested in the characters. It makes me kind of wish Hollywood was still like this and made films like this: incredibly beautiful and sophisticated. It is totally deserving of the best picture Academy Award that it won in 1950. I always knew it would be good, but it gets the double thumbs up from me.
All About Eve is available on DVD or can be rented from Amazon Prime Video at a steal of £3.49!! If you’ve not seen it yet, I hope this post gets you adding it to the top of your ‘to watch next’ list.
All my love & films,