For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!
In “All About Eve” we get a window into the world of theater, following the rise of an ambitious young actress, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), and the decline of the older established actress, Margo Channing (Bette Davis). It is a truly great film telling the story of aging within a profession that prizes youthfulness. The film begins at an awards ceremony and then is told in a series of remembrances. The story begins when Karen (Celeste Holm), the wife of successful director Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), introduces the seemingly shy and meek Eve to Margo. Eve is the adoring fan who has seen all of Margo’s performances, with a perfect story of poverty and lost love. Margo takes Eve in and hires her as an assistant, but we learn that Eve may be more ambitious than we thought. No one catches on as quickly as Birdie (Thelma Ritter), Margo’s dressing room woman and personal assistant. Margo begins to catch on, and rages to her lover and successful theater director, Bill (Gary Merrill) and Lloyd that Eve has been hired as her understudy. She cannot control the inevitable march of time, and lashes out at everyone around her.
Eve takes full advantage of an evening when Margo is not available. She takes Margo’s part and she tries to take Margo’s lover. Bill rejects her and is her first stumbling block on her rise to stardom. Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), a respected theater critic, watches Eve’s off – stage performance. He is a predator, much like Eve, and when the opportunity comes to challenge her, he takes it.
Both Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role, two of the fourteen nominations that “All About Eve” received. Writer/Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz tells a fascinating human story, and Bette Davis turns what could be the best and most revealing performance of her career.
In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns: