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  • Jul 16, 2003
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+5
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz  who received Academy Awards in 1950 for his work both as director and as author of the screenplay, All About Eve is also all about what can sometimes be cutthroat competition for fame more than fortune in the New York theatre world. Margo Channing (Davis) is among its brightest stars. The calculating Eve Harrington (Baxter) concludes that her single major barrier is Channing so she ingratiates herself with the fading but celebrated Broadway actress, obtaining a position as her personal assistant. Her duplicity succeeds. At least for a while, she conceals her ulterior motives even from world-weary and cynical theatre critic Addison De Witt, played so well by George Sanders that he also received an Academy Award as best supporting actor.

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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More All About Eve reviews
review by . February 21, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
The brand-new Special Edition of ALL ABOUT EVE offers a fantastic insight into one of the most influential and refreshing films to have emerged from Hollywood in the 1950s. Still as potent and as darkly hilarious now as when it was first released, ALL ABOUT EVE tells the story of a seemingly-innocuous young woman called Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), who worms her way into the life of her idol, stage star Margo Channing (Bette Davis). Eve soon makes herself indispensable in Margo's circle of friends …
review by . April 17, 2007
This film represents the end of a time when witty dialog  and insightful writing had a chance to make it to the big   screen. Even though there's an unmistakeable feeling of   watching a play on film, the crispness of the dialog and the  tight editing make you yearn for a return of intelligence to  the movies.    Bette Davis is superb as the magnificently self-absorbed star  of Broadway and Anne Baxter underplays the …
review by . May 08, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
The brand-new Special Edition of ALL ABOUT EVE offers a fantastic insight into one of the most influential and refreshing films to have emerged from Hollywood in the 1950s. Still as potent and as darkly hilarious now as when it was first released, ALL ABOUT EVE tells the story of a seemingly-innocuous young woman called Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), who worms her way into the life of her idol, stage star Margo Channing (Bette Davis). Eve soon makes herself indispensable in Margo's circle of friends …
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Showered with Oscars, this wonderfully bitchy (and witty) comedy written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz concerns an aging theater star (Bette Davis) whose life is being supplanted by a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing ingenue (Anne Baxter) whom she helped. This is a film for a viewer to take in like a box of chocolates, packed with scene-for-scene delights that make the entire story even better than it really is. The film also gives deviously talented actors such as George Sanders and Thelma Ritter a chance to speak dazzling lines; Davis bites into her role and never lets go. A classic from Mankiewicz, a legendary screenwriter and the brilliant director ofA Letter to Three Wives,The Barefoot Contessa, andSleuth.--Tom Keogh
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