Every other member of the cast is first-rate. I always get a kick out of Marilyn Monroe's brief appearance as Miss Claudia Caswell, an aspiring actress whom De Witt identifies as "a graduate of the Copacabana school of dramatic art." I also thoroughly enjoy the generally under appreciated Thelma Ritter as Birdie Coonan, a character who possesses what Hemingway described so well as a "built-in, shock-proof crap detector." Of course, the most famous of many great lines is Channing's warning, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night." She gradually realizes how vulnerable she has become to ambitious young actresses such as Eve who will do whatever it takes to achieve the status and stature which seem to be slipping from her grasp.
When I recently saw this film again, I appreciated more than I had in the past the essential decency of characters such as Karen Richards (Holm), Bill Sampson (Merrill), and Lloyd Richards (Marlowe). I think Mankiewicz wrote them into the script to suggest that, yes, the "Great White Way" can also be gray and even black at times; however, many of those in the theatre world are not so self-serving and even unscrupulous as Eve Harrington. In my opinion, this is one of Mankiewicz' key points: Without associates such as Coonan, Richards, Sampson, and Richards, Harrington will one day be even more vulnerable to others than Channing was when Eve callously maneuvered her way into her (Margo Channing's) life.
The film also received and certainly deserved its Academy Award as well as the praise it continues to receive. Those who share my high regard for it may also enjoy Sweet Smell of Success (1957), All That Jazz (1979), and especially The Chorus Line (1985). Fortunately, all three are available in the DVD format.
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