Nov 15, 2013

[Movies] All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve is one of those movies that is often celebrated as a great Bette Davis movie. And when you involve Bette Davis, you also tap into a significant part of LGBT culture that many queens celebrate, primarily in the US. And let's face it, the movie is just overflowing with brilliant barbs and sassy quotes that may gay men relish introducing into a conversation. This movie has become so gay that I was tempted to post this on Sunday as part of my "pink culture" posts.

And like many older movies, it had long been on my radar for viewing but would always get pushed aside for one reason or another. But recently I decided to make a serious effort to acquire a copy of he movie and to finally watch it.

So one lazy evening before work I found myself with enough time to watch this classic piece of film making. And more than two hours later, I was more than happy that I had finally gotten through this epic tale that is truly a classic, whether or not you enjoy dressing up like Bette Davis.

Synopsis: All About Eve is a 1950 drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It was based on the 1946 Mary Orr short story "The Wisdom of Eve". The movie won a number of awards and holds the distinction for being the only movie to have four female acting nominations - two for Best Actress and two for Best Supporting Actress.

The story starts at a Broadway awards ceremony where theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) narrates the proceedings for us. New star Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) is set to receive the Sarah Siddons Award for her breakout performance with Margo Channing (Bette Davis) watching with some disdain. We then flashback to when Eve was nothing more than an adoring fan of Margo's. Every night she would patiently wait outside the theater in the hopes of getting a chance to meet her idol. And this wish is eventually fulfilled by Karen Richards (Celeste Holm), a close friend of Margo's.

Margo is moved by Eve's story of hardship, woe and of course idolization of Margo. Thus she takes her on as a live-in assistant. It's almost as if she's attached to Margo at the hip as she follows her around and is practically a happily indentured servant. This initially puts off Margo's maid, Bertie (Thelma Ritter), given Eve is pretty much competing with her in terms of her actual work. But over time it is revealed that there is a lot more to Eve than just her desire to bask in Margo's glory.

All About Eve has long been known for being a movie about how ambition can come in any form, including a seemingly naive fan. And it's a story theme that we've seen repeated time and time again in many other movies throughout the years. But I have to admit that the way it was addressed here was particularly brilliant, one that is the result of clear directorial vision and of course some pretty amazing talent.

Bette Davis is in top form in this movie. It's hard to imagine any other actress of her era (or perhaps any era) capture her character so well. Every stare and the quick shift in her inflection all manage to convey a world of meaning. And it's not like she barely moves, so you know that she has a heck of a lot of a lot to say here. And you would too if you were defending your life's work from some young upstart.

Anne Baxter plays things precisely well - she doesn't ham it up like some soap opera villain nor does she sink too far under the radar that the transition doesn't make sense. She is truly a wolf in sheep's clothing, one that we can eventually see as members of the audience but in some ways it'll still surprise you. There are certainly a fair amount of hints to be found here and there across the opening act. But yes, the final reveal is just brilliant.

The rest of the cast is equally compelling. They all have their roles to play and they manage to hold their own against the two lead actresses. They never overshadow of course - it's clear who the stars of this movie are. And this is not a bad thing. Everyone comes together to make sure this movie's story is told and everything simply works in the end.

All About Eve is a heck of a lot more compelling than a lot of recent drama movies that have come out. There's a certain degree of sophistication and style that this movie had that is rarely matched. Thus I have no other choice but to rate this movie a full 5 vocal barbs between Eve and Margo out of a possible 5.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment