Until a tiny sail named Titanic came into view, All About Eve was the mothership of the Academy Awards. The 1950 film grabbed 14 nominations and won six of them, truly making it one of the first powerhouses to ever take down the awards ceremony (Titanic tied it in noms, and beat it in wins, 11, which is a number also claimed by Ben-Hur). But hey, not too shabby for 1950, yeah? Oh, and Eve still stands as the only film to garner four female acting nominations. Well done, ladies!
All About Eve stands as another one of these classics that really wasn’t on my radar and that is cray! It’s an excellent behind-the-scenes glance at the Entertainment/Theater industries, which most casual viewers had probably never thought of at the time. It’s a tale of actors vying for the spotlight and competing with each other, and even back in the 50’s, that shit could get cutthroat.
Bette Davis plays Margo Channing, a slightly aging, yet still crazy famous Broadway star of a popular play called Aged in Wood. Channing is beautiful; bitchy, yet revered. Basically, she’s the 1950’s version of “the shit.” After the show one evening, Channing’s friend Karen (Celeste Holm) introduces her to diehard fan Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), who quickly and quietly makes her way up the ranks of Channing’s entourage thanks to her calm demeanor and heart-tugging sob story. Yada, yada, yada….Eve becomes a force to be reckoned with, manipulating Channing’s relationships, contesting for roles, lying to those around her, and generally taking the face of your every day Regina George.
There’s really nothing in this movie that isn’t absolutely stellar. The plot works, the story is well-paced and the acting is simply phenomenal. The performances given by Davis and Baxter are seriously some of the best I’ve ever seen. They’re both shrewd and cunning in their own distinct ways, electrifying the screen and dominating the film. Research any “Greatest Films of All Time” list and you’ll surely see Davis’s face or an Eve movie poster of some sort, because dammit, this one is simply worth it. For anyone appreciative of Broadway or fine performances, this is one that can’t be missed. Bonus points for the Celeste Holm casting, too (Gentleman’s Agreement).
Fun-fact: A young and then-unknown Marilyn Monroe can be found playing Miss Casswell in the party scene at Channing’s apartment. (How do you make an already great film that much better? Add Marilyn. Always add Marilyn.)
My quest is still rolling along smoothly. I’d call my pace moderate, but I’d label my dedication as extreme. I’ve been delaying an actual countdown because quite frankly, I’m terrified to find out how many films I have left. I’m just going to continue this smooth and steady pace until I baby-step my way closer and closer to my end goal: Watching every single Best Picture winner in the history of the Academy Awards. It’ll happen. Some day. Eventually.
To sum: if you’re riding high on a movie quest of your own, or if you’re simply looking to consume some old school cinema, add All About Eve to your Netflix queue ASAP and bump it to the top. It’s classy, classic and one hell of a 50’s film that is truly near perfection.