1003 All About Eve

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

1003 All About Eve

#1 Post by Michael » Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:55 pm

All About Eve

Image

In Joseph L. Mankiewicz's devastatingly witty Hollywood classic, backstage is where the real drama plays out. One night, Margo Channing (Bette Davis) entertains a surprise dressing-room visitor: her most adoring fan, the shy, wide-eyed Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). But as Eve becomes a fixture in Margo's life, the Broadway legend soon realizes that her supposed admirer intends to use her and everyone in her circle, including George Sanders's acid-tongued critic, as stepping-stones to stardom. Featuring stiletto-sharp dialogue and direction by Mankiewicz, and an unforgettable Davis in the role that revived her career and came to define it, the multiple-Oscar-winning All About Eve is the most deliciously entertaining film ever made about the ruthlessness of show business.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Two audio commentaries from 2010, one featuring actor Celeste Holm, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's son Christopher Mankiewicz, and author Kenneth L. Geist; the other featuring author Sam Staggs
All About Mankiewicz, a feature-length documentary from 1983 about the director
• Episodes of The Dick Cavett Show from 1969 and 1980 featuring actors Bette Davis and Gary Merrill
• New interview with costume historian Larry McQueen
Hollywood Backstories: "All About Eve," a 2001 documentary featuring interviews with Davis and others about the making of the film
• Documentaries from 2010 about Mankiewicz's life and career, the short story on which the film is based and its real-world inspiration, and a real-life "Sarah Siddons Society" based on the film's fictional society
• Radio adaptation of the film from 1951
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic Terrence Rafferty and the 1946 short story on which the film is based

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#2 Post by domino harvey » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:09 pm

Michael wrote:
Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:55 pm
Revisited All About Eve very recently and got floored once again. I remain on high from that film. There's something about the film that really crawls under my skin and I don't have a clue what it is.

I adore the onion-layers of the film, on the surface - the grand display of hysterics and the best dialogues of all cinema. Underneath all that plus the glorious deceit, scheming, and bitching lies the fear of loneliness and aging. I never noticed that before as I always got swept away by the film's most magnificent wits, performances and bitchiness. Last viewing, I was emotionally struck by another layer revealed - the fear of aging and loneliness that is, so gorgeously subtly expressed in from the Broadway title to Bette's dialogues during a car break down on a wintry country road.

Someone told me that there is a lesbian angle to it. That layer I've not discovered yet.

And it has my favorite movie script of them all. Line after line, just perfect, martini-dry. The ending still so ever creepy, how the mirror multiplies to the world of Phoebes we are currently living in. The film will never grow old.

Any fan of All About Eve here?

I also caught Stardust (documentary movie of Bette Davis' life and career) on TCM a couple of nights ago. It was pretty good and I was exhilarated to see Charles Pierce as one of the guests. Not sure if I agree with his comment saying Bette Davis' performance as Margo is not campy but she plays a campy lady. Whatever that means but surely Margo, being a Broadway diva, is a very theatrical character, just not campy.
I was just thinking last night about how great that last fifteen-twenty minutes are-- the wind up and pitch result in one of the most satisfying if not the most satisfying endings in all of film. George Sanders totally kills it and the terminally underrated Anne Baxter outshines that sun of suns, Bette Davis, in every scene.

On a side note, I read Sanders' brilliant suicide note last night and man, that guy just straight-up killed at life (so to speak)

User avatar
Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#3 Post by Matt » Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:16 pm

I'm a huge fan of the film, and of Joseph Mankiewicz in general (certainly has his flaws, but a master of voiceover narration). It's one of those films that I find myself quoting a lot (but usually just in my head to myself). I wish that the "husband" characters were drawn a little bit better, but it may just be that Gary Merrill and Hugh Marlowe were dimmer lights than George Sanders, Bette Davis, Thelma Ritter, et al. After all, Gregory Ratoff does a great job with his little part, and Kirk Douglas played the husband-to-end-all-husbands in Mankiewicz's A Letter to Three Wives.

User avatar
Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#4 Post by Michael » Thu Nov 19, 2009 8:40 pm

The tagline for the poster of All About Eve is: "It's all about women... and their men." Women first, men next. Women reign the stage of All About Eve , leaving men in the sidestage. The blood flowing through the film is women's fear of becoming lonely and old - no longer the spotlight of worthiness and desire. So with that said, the "husbands" may not be as dramatic or fleshed out as the others, it's all because they are basically decent and caring folks, looking kinda bland next to the acerbic, cold-blooded DeWitt. I love the "husbands", they are so nice and modern - none of the macho or sexist attitude, which is really refreshing to see in old movies.

So much more to say about the film.

Haven't seen Letter to Three Wives, will check it out.

User avatar
jesus the mexican boi
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 5:09 am
Location: South of the Capitol of Texas

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#5 Post by jesus the mexican boi » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:38 pm

Thanks to Michael for guilting me into finally seeing this. What was I waiting for? Must be the most acerbic movie about ambition outside of SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, and more nuanced than that brilliant picture.

Agree with domino, too, that the last twenty minutes are insanely good. Eve's acceptance speech thanking the cast of characters of her life and their reactions -- while making you feel one way at the film's opening -- now do a 180-degree turn as you grasp the emptiness of her words, the hollowness of it all. And Sanders' "you belong to me" speech is as subversively sadistic as anything I've ever seen. I kept seeing precognitions of Fassbinder here -- Petra von Kant, sure, but Maria Braun, Veronika Voss, even Fox and His Friends -- I told Michael, I'm just in a state of shock after seeing it.

Incredibly powerful movie. I can't wait to see it again.

Joseph L. Mankiewicz, sad to say, had never really been on my map. Lots to discover.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#6 Post by domino harvey » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:57 am

If you need a next step, you probably won't be disappointed by the Barefoot Contessa, which is somewhat transparently Mankiewicz's attempt at capturing a similar audience. Sure it's not quite in the same league, but it is great fun and Edmund O'Brien earned his supporting actor Oscar too

User avatar
jesus the mexican boi
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2004 5:09 am
Location: South of the Capitol of Texas

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#7 Post by jesus the mexican boi » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:16 am

Thanks domino. I was just checking out the IMDb for Joseph L. Mankiewicz I'd missed.

Netflix instant viewing has:

Cleopatra
Julius Caesar
People Will Talk
A Letter to Three Wives
The Ghost and Mrs Muir

Netflix instant used to have Barefoot Contessa and Suddenly Last Summer. Maybe they'll come around again.

User avatar
Matt
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#8 Post by Matt » Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:18 am

TCM runs some of his films often. Worth checking out are his adaptations of The Quiet American (much better, I think, than the recent version with Michael Caine) and The Late George Apley, based on the novel by the once popular but now completely forgotten John P. Marquand. I thought that I would love People Will Talk, since it was made right after Eve and stars Cary Grant as a gynecologist, but I hated it. Unbearably earnest and heavy-handed. Also completely unfunny.

I guess I'm in the minority in that once Bette Davis is off-screen for good in Eve, the movie is over for me. Maybe it's a testament to Anne Baxter's talent, but I dislike her character so much that I don't even care what happens to her at the end.

User avatar
Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#9 Post by Michael » Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:41 am

Matt, don't you like Celeste Holm? She's such a fascinating bitch but in a more subtle way than Margo, Eve and Birdie. I loooove her VO when she's alone in her apartment, complementing what to do next with her scheming plan. Her words still rattle in my mind.

What about the ending - from Addison's confrontation crippling Eve for good to Phoebe in the mirrors - no Bette but it can't be "over" for you, no? :?

And of course in all this is Bette's show. In my opinion, her greatest film, her most crowning performance.

User avatar
Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#10 Post by Michael » Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:55 am

jesus the mexican boi - very interesting that you brought up Fassbinder. I thought the same if only Fassinder could be this funny.

All About Eve has to be Almodovar's favorite film, he has already referenced to this film a few times in All About My Mother, the title itself a very obvious example. But I think Bad Education is really his All About Eve. Gael Garcia Bernal's character is a brother to Eve - both are nasty and like Matt said earlier, dislikeable and also glide through sexualities back and forth. But that leaves room to develop feelings for the real victims - Margo and the real Ignacio.

And also very interesting how both films have such fun "sidekick" characters that slip in and out way too soon - Birdie in All About Eve and Paquito in Bad Education. I keep waiting for them to return and I always say that there are movies waiting to be made just for those characters.
Last edited by Michael on Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

HarryLong
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:39 pm
Location: Lebanon, PA

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#11 Post by HarryLong » Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:38 pm

Michael wrote:Someone told me that there is a lesbian angle to it. That layer I've not discovered yet.
Some read more than Mankiewicz claims he intended in Eve embracing the young woman who makes the call to Hugh Marlowe as they walk up the stairs afterward.
But my bet is on Eve doing whatever necessary to further her plan.

User avatar
GringoTex
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 5:57 am

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#12 Post by GringoTex » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:06 pm

I agree with Domino that Baxter makes this film. The chemistry between her and Sanders is outrageous. Rossellini should have cast Baxter opposite Sanders in Viaggio in Italia, but then he would have had a comedy, or more likely a murder mystery, on his hands.

User avatar
perkizitore
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:29 pm
Location: OOP is the only answer

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#13 Post by perkizitore » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:46 pm

I think Baxter is magnificent, playing the naively good but preposterous girl of 50's melodrama. But Davis is an actress that cannot be topped, playing a character with much more depth and complexities than Baxter.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#14 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:56 pm

My only qualm with this film is the ending - I feel like the last five minutes (everything after the acceptance speech) feel tacked on and too "easy," for lack of a better word. I get the vibe that all of that is only there to set up the (admittedly brilliant) final shot. But the writing is sharp, Baxter is fantastic, and there is more to say about gender in this film than in most in the reactions of the average viewer. LQ explained to me that it is the perfect women's film for many reasons, a major one being: a woman watching the film does not trust Eve from the moment she begins working for Margo, and I confirmed her suspicion that men watching the film with no prior knowledge buy into Eve's every word and action, and wonder how things got to where they did in the beginning of the film foolishly for far too long. Baxter's performance is so brilliant because she's so convincingly duplicitous, and because midway through the film, I was still sort of convinced that we were seeing Margo blow up about nothing, unwilling to admit her career was over and projecting her paranoia onto another (which still would have been an interesting angle). Oh, how foolish I was.

User avatar
LQ
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:51 am
Contact:

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#15 Post by LQ » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:18 am

mfunk9786 wrote:LQ explained to me that it is the perfect women's film for many reasons, a major one being: a woman watching the film does not trust Eve from the moment she begins working for Margo
Less specifically and more importantly, this is the perfect women's film (never mind being a plain ol' perfect film) because Mankiewicz miraculously understands all the complex emotions, desires, motivations, foibles & insecurities of women and respectfully articulates them on-screen in a way that we can relate to intimately.

All About Eve is one of those films I look forward to growing old with; of course it never changes but I will, and I think all women hope to reach a place where they value themselves and are valued by others for who they innately are after the glow of youth and beauty has faded away. 60+ years after its creation and it still speaks to me as a woman more powerfully and meaningfully than any other film I've encountered. There never was, and there never will be, another like this.
jesus the mexican boi wrote:Thanks to Michael for guilting me into finally seeing this
I too can thank Michael for pressing me to see this; he's gifted me a lot of invaluable cinematic experiences with his recommendations.

User avatar
Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#16 Post by Michael » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:49 am

mfunk - Interesting that you find the last 5 minutes tacked on and easy. Phoebe multiplying for eternity is utter genius and looking at today, we are living the world of Phoebes - women AND men nowadays (with all the reality TV craze, those New Jersey-based shows being some of the best examples). Snooki has a fiction book published while there are many authors struggling to get their works published for years. The cruel Phoebe cycle still goes on and won't stop as long as we have media / entertainment.

After DeWitt handing the trophy that Eve left behind in the cab to Phoebe, Phoebe slithers away from the door frame, like a snake, her eyes determined and calculated, carrying us into the chilly world of mirrors focused on nothing but Phoebe.

Eve is back to where Margo was when Eve first entered. And so on and on. For me, that turns the film from a fun bitchfest to an unnerving, heartbreaking statement on being a woman, aging and fame.

And LQ, everything you said about All About Eve is so right on.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#17 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:22 am

The final shot is clearly brilliant, but I just think the setup to get there is a little on the nose and clunky in the way that it's executed. I'm not saying that I could have pulled it off better, but the whole "I snuck into your apartment and I guess I fell asleep" thing made me let out a little groan. Had I edited the film, I think I would have lobbied for ending with the acceptance speech. But then you'd miss out on that mirror shot, so I think the correct decision was obviously made.

My argument with the "Eve is back where Margo was" argument is that Eve is still the hot young thing, it strikes me as a way of the screenwriter rushing to make this statement. Eve is not even close to where Margo is yet, and since a lot of Margo's rants are sharp observations about age and aging, the final scene seems a bit shallow and one dimensional in comparison. Hope that makes sense.

User avatar
triodelover
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:11 pm
Location: The hills of East Tennessee

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#18 Post by triodelover » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:01 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:My argument with the "Eve is back where Margo was" argument is that Eve is still the hot young thing...
Actually, she's not, although she may not be where Margo is yet. She's already yesterday's news. From the best baseball movie ever made...
Eight Men Out wrote:Abe Atell: Yeah, but I was champ. Featherweight champeen of the world!
Arnold Rothstein: Yesterday. That was yesterday.
There's always a new hot young thing just around the corner.

User avatar
Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#19 Post by Michael » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:04 pm

Margo's fear of aging is the soul of the film. That's how she sees it as a reason for her decline but of course realizes better too late in the film.

There are also other things spinning around that.

Once you reach the very top and the next day you are back to the gutter, there is always someone available to take your place and the world goes on without you just fine - another fear simmering through the film. Eve is blinded by the spotlight so much that she forgets there is someone like she used to be stalking her all along, readying to tumble her down.

I can see how a young woman breaking into a famous star's home only to have the star accepting her in the spur of the moment appears ridiculous. Only in Hollywood I guess.

User avatar
Feego
Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:30 pm
Location: Texas

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#20 Post by Feego » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:10 pm

I agree with everything mfunk says about the ending. I love All About Eve and the final shot, but I too have often thought that the idea of Eve already having her own "Eve" so early in her career is a bit unbelievable. Even the final shot, which is fantastic, almost seems a bit too stylized for the film. It actually would not have been out of place in that other great 1950 film about an aging actress. Perhaps if the film had flashed to the future, when Eve was about Margo's age, the ending would have been a bit more convincing to me. But that's really just a minor complaint. I think the movie is a masterpiece, and I never grow tired of watching it.

And of course I can't get enough of Marilyn Monroe. She manages to steal scenes from both Davis and Baxter. Her naive frankness when she tells Eve, "You won't even get a chance to talk," and when she wonders "Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits," is delicious. And then there's her ditzy concern about addressing the butler, followed by her calculated kittenishness when Mr. Fabian offers to bring her a fresh drink. Love her!

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#21 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:32 pm

I was thinking just that Feego, I always loved how There Will Be Blood jumps ahead in time merely to tie up storylines in a brief and startling way, and while analyzing a film from 61 years ago with an example of one from 4 years ago is obviously absurd, I think it might have made more sense to jump ahead in time to an aging Eve being confronted by a similar situation.

I loved the acceptance speech so much that if the sound had gone up on the applause and the film had faded out, that would have been an excellent "fuck you" ending and would have said everything the film needed to say without the need for an epilogue.

User avatar
Michael
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 12:09 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#22 Post by Michael » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:50 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:I loved the acceptance speech so much that if the sound had gone up on the applause and the film had faded out, that would have been an excellent "fuck you" ending and would have said everything the film needed to say without the need for an epilogue.
That means we would lose the cherry on the top of the sundae: Margo's ultimate fuck you to Eve as she congratulates her.

PillowRock
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:54 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#23 Post by PillowRock » Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:23 pm

Here's my problem wit the idea of shifting Phoebe to flash forward to when Eve is Margo's age (40-ish):

It would carry a bit of implication that you need to go out that far to reach the point where Eve is in danger of being knocked off the mountaintop. It implies that Eve had had a fairly safe, smooth ride on the A-list for those 12 or 15 years.

By bringing Phoebe in later on the same night when Eve is feted and awarded, the movie is pointing out that in such a competitive field you are never safe to relax. From the moment that you succeed in climbing to the metaphoric mountaintop you must immediately turn your energy toward maintaining your place on that summit, including fending off the wannabes that would displace you. In that respect the ending of All About Eve is a bit like the ending of The Gunfighter.

One possible interpretation of why Eve is so relaxed with Phoebe, despite her own recent experience of what someone in that position might do, is that she knows that all of her own scheming would have come to nothing if she had not been able to give that performance when she got on stage and she knows that the odds are against any given new Phoebe having that talent. This brings up a layer of meaning in the final shot that I don't usually see mentioned. I always see the endless Phoebe reflections described as a reference to the infinite iterations of the younger versions taking over for the older ones, and that is certainly there. The other layer is that it shows us a huge crowd of Phoebes looking for their chance at the same time. Eve would be right to think that the odds are against this Phoebe having the acting talent to displace her; but among all of the hundreds (or thousands) of Phoebes that are out there gunning for her position, there most certainly will be one or two Phoebes that *do* have that talent.

User avatar
fiddlesticks
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 8:19 pm
Location: Borderlands

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#24 Post by fiddlesticks » Fri Feb 04, 2011 5:40 pm

I have no problem with Phoebe arriving so early in Eve's career, because I do not equate Eve with Margo. Margo was a dedicated, hard-working actress who (presumably) struggled to achieve the standing she enjoys as the film opens. Eve lied and connived her way to the top, and if she is indeed as good an actress as her performance in Footsteps on the Ceiling suggests, it's a secondary consideration to her ruthlessness. It is both reasonable and satisfying that her stay at the top looks to be short-lived as she may quickly be undone by the same methods that put her where she is. This is not what happened to Margo, which is why it takes an entire film to chronicle her downfall vs. a single scene for Eve's.

stwrt
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:24 pm

Re: All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

#25 Post by stwrt » Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:21 pm

Fox's Blu-Ray for Eve is intoxicating, the gold standard for every black & white movie on HD, it's as though you can touch the fibres on the clothing and the jewelry (did they convert it into 3D ?!)

Post Reply