A talented but aging actress takes in a young ward
who slowly starts to usurp her friends and career.
All About Eve (1950)
Written and Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Gregory Ratoff, Thelma Ritter
Based on the short story "The Wisdom of Eve" by Mary Orr
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design,
Best Sound Recording
Oscar Nominations - Best Actress (Bette Davis), Best Actress
(Anne Baxter), Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm),
Best Supporting Actress (Thelma Ritter), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score
All About Eve is so impressively ahead of its time. In 1950, it was dealing with situations like stalkers, aging, betrayal, blackmail, and even seduction. It sports an incredible cast and has a wildly engaging story that still holds up today. It's got a timeless quality, which really is the best quality a film can have. The film revolves around a girl named Eve (Baxter), who appears to be a timid, humble fan, but in reality is an ambitious, possibly psychotic, pathological liar who wants everything her idol has and then some. It almost creeps into horror at times and clearly influenced films like Fatal Attraction and Cape Fear at least somewhat.
Margo Channing (Davis) is a beloved actress, though she is entering her forties and is very insecure about it. When her friend Karen (Holm) introduces her to a big fan, Eve, Margo is touched by Eve's story of losing her husband in the war, ending up in San Francisco, and being saved by Margo's performance in a play. Of course, all of this is bullshit, but we don't know that yet. Margo takes Eve under her wing, which proves to be her biggest mistake. Eve impresses Margo's playwright friend, and the theater critics, and everyone else. Margo becomes convinced Eve is trying to destroy her and take her place, which is true. I love the way the film tricks you into picking a side. At first, you think Margo is a vain celebrity throwing a fit, but once you start to catch onto Eve's game, everything changes, and it's like you're watching a different film.
The Mankiewicz family had some of the most impressive talent genes in movie history. This film is considered one of Hollywood's greatest 20th century outputs, and I can see why. It's witty, charming, provocative, sexy, and just plain goofy at times. But hiding beneath all the smarm is a great deal of pain as Margo starts to believe nobody actually likes the real her. Just the actress. This is definitely a must-see.