Thursday, April 17, 2008
All About Eve
Margo Channing (Bette Davis), a Broadway diva beginning to show her age, meets the young fan who stands outside the theater after every performance (Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington). Taken by her devotion, humility, and hard luck story, Margo gives Eve a job as a gofer/secretary. At first, she is delighted, but later comes to realize that Eve is ruthless and will stop at nothing to steal Margo�s career -- not to mention her fianc� (Gary Merrill as director Bill Simpson). Eve manipulates Margo�s friends and colleagues, becomes her understudy, and finally, after scheming to keep her away from the theater, goes on in her place, after arranging for critics to be at her performance. She takes the starring role in a new production that would have been Margo�s, and wins an award for it. But by then, Margo and her friends are back together, Eve is tied to a critic who is as ambitiously manipulative as she is, and as the movie ends, she too meets a devoted young fan who could be another Eve.
This movie, with one of the most literate scripts ever written (by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also directed) is not just the finest backstage drama ever filmed, but also a compelling parable of ambition and loyalty. Bette Davis is brilliant as Margo, bringing both the ferocity and the vulnerability of Margo to life. No one can forget her at the beginning of her party: "Fasten your seatbelts, it�s going to be a bumpy night." She is the first to notice that Eve is not what she seems, but her friends assume it is just petty jealousy, and it only makes them want to protect Eve. That is just what Eve needs to get them to do what she wants, and it almost results in the break-up not only of Margo and Bill, but also of their best friends, playwright Lloyd Richards and his wife Karen. Ultimately, the loyalty of all four friends keeps them together. And ultimately, Eve is reigned in by someone who is her equal, acidic columnist Addison De Witt (a silky George Saunders).
Posted by J.N. at 6:04 AM