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  • As close to perfection as they come. A film than can be viewed again and again without ever getting tired. Bette Davis's Margo Channing is a film icon of major proportions. A point of reference. Her fear of the abyss is as human as it is at the center of this selfish, insecure, sacred cow. She is surrounded by some other sensational women. Thelma Ritter, Celeste Holm, Anne Baxter and in a tiny but telling part, Marilyn Monroe - a graduate from the Copacabana school of dramatic art. Wittily prophetic. George Sanders is another piece of extraordinary casting and writing. "I'm essential to the theater" Indeed. And here is a film that has become essential to anyone who loves movies"
  • In show business, there is probably an Eve Harrington born every day. Someone who butters up to a performer of note, acting innocently, revealing none of the coldhearted ambition they really have. Anne Baxter plays this type of person to a tee. She looks like a baby-faced fan, but little do we know, there is a fame machine at work in her mind. Bette Davis, as Margo Channing, star of the stage, is a veteran who has seen it all. She is quite the egotist. Margo is a brilliant actress and she knows it. Eve discovers her blind spot and moves in on her like a quiet storm. This is the premise of ALL ABOUT EVE, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's masterpiece of sly wit and subtle manipulation. Mankiewicz also wrote the picture (winner of the Best Picture Oscar of 1950) with such skill, the talented cast need only to memorize the lines and deliver them with the proper technique.

    The performances are great, regardless, especially by Bette Davis and the always detested George Sanders, one of my favorite actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The film is narrated initially by Sanders, who plays a ruthless swine of a theatre critic, then by Celeste Holm, the wife of Eve and Margo's playwrighter, then Bette Davis in the performance of a lifetime. The movie is about 90% dialogue, much like a play. The words are so crisp and sharp, you never sway or lose interest. These characters are just too interesting. Bette Davis has a cavalcade of unforgettable dialogue. "Fasten your seatbelts. Its going to be a bumpy night!" This is the one everyone remembers, but I would be remiss to get into any others.

    The picture runs well over 2 hours, but it doesn't seem like enough. Mankiewicz could've held a seminar of screenwriting by showing this. George Sanders is the only actor of the roster to bring home an Academy Award, and rumor has it Davis and Baxter, who was just 27 at the time, were feuding during much of the shoot and lusted the Oscar. Time has been very good to the film as well. 1950 was a wonderful year for movies and ALL ABOUT EVE's artistic equal that year was the equally well-written SUNSET BOULEVARD, which took us behind the scenes of a tainted Hollywood. EVE takes on theatre and treats Hollywood like an afterthought. There are many references to the film industry, usually involving the scenes with Margo Channing's boyfriend, who is attempting to make a career on the silver screen.

    The movie is highly unpredictable, especially the last scenes which tie the ideas of the story up. There is an Eve everywhere and each character gets what he or she deserves. Fasten the belts and listen up. This is screenwriting at its finest.
  • What a genius Joseph L Manckiewicz was. A literary script that is totally accessible. A melodrama for the thinking man. A film that is as engrossing and entertaining every time you see it. Bette Davis touches all the raw nerves of her mythological career. Anne Baxter never went this far. Thelma Ritter became a sort of icon. Marilyn Monroe gives us a preview of forthcoming attractions as a graduated from the "Copacabana" academy of dramatic arts. Celeste Holm represents us, all of us and George Sanders creates a prototype for a cultured monster that is immediately recognizable. I don't recall another film in which the nature of selfishness is so wittily dissected. A total triumph.
  • You will see yourself in every character in this very intelligent, entrancing movie. Though set in "the theatre," the story could just as easily have been told in a small town, a corporation – even a religious organization. Being set in the "glamorous" world of entertainment – its seems all the more timely in these days of fame, fortune and the insufficiency (almost shame) of being ordinary. The theatre setting also underscores the reality that the world is a stage, and all its people, players.

    So much to study in this movie: the genuine, trusting (and romantic) human; the streetwise, good, hardworking human, who's seen it all and doesn't embrace it; the jaded, heart-hardened, deceitful loser with power, who admires the same and disdains human goodness; the ambitious sociopath who fools so many; the unsuspecting onlookers who see only the façade of success; the inescapable fact that supreme achievement has been had by very low characters; the painful passage of an aging woman into the light of knowing she's loved for being beautiful beyond her appearance, for being HER; the touching portrayal of her lover who remembers his love for her as he passes on a much younger, beautiful, talented actress; the sorrow of a (betraying) friend who discovers the frightened and lonely heart of her successful friend … The dialogue is sharp and clever, barked and growled, smarmy and tender… A truly human movie about being human. Go – find yourself in everyone!
  • THE definitive saga of backstage brouhaha ever dished out by Hollywood. A triumph of screen-writing, never will one see such ripe, acrid dialogue spewed out like this again -- every indelible scene gloriously stained with classic one-liners. An actress wanna-be looking for her big break carefully worms her way into the glamorous life of a legendary Broadway star, then tries to supplant her privately and professionally.

    A sterling, incandescent cast provides the fire and music to this concerto of theatre attitude. Bette Davis knew she was handed a dream role when she was cast as Margo Channing, the indomitable diva caught up in the throes of mid-life crisis both on- and off-stage. Not willing at all to deal with it tactfully, she makes life a living hell for anyone within knife-throwing distance. This juicy, once-in-a-lifetime part turned Davis' own flagging middle-aged career back on its feet, especially coming on the heels of one of her biggest "dumps" ever, "Beyond the Forest." Remarkable as it may seem, Bette was not the first choice here, replacing an injured Claudette Colbert. With all due respect to Colbert, Bette Davis was BORN to play Margo Channing. A mauling lioness one minute, a coy, declawed pussycat the next, Davis relishes every wickedly bitchy scene she gets to tear into. Yet in her more introspective moments, she evokes real sympathy for Margo (as only a true star can) especially when her character missteps. It's a resounding victory for the Queen Bee in every way, shape and form.

    Her "supporting cast" also manage to create a buzz of excitement. Gary Merrill and Hugh Marlowe, known for their relative blandness, are splendid here in their respective roles as queen bee's lover and playwright. While Merrill's Bill Sampson tames Margo the woman with gutsy directness and virile passion, Marlowe's Lloyd Richards appeases Margo the star with flattery, great dialogue and a calm resolve. Worth watching, then, are their fireworks scenes with Margo when intelligence and restraint no longer work. Debonair George Sanders gives customary snob appeal and dry cynicism to his waspish, ultimately loathsome columnist Addison DeWitt, who swarms around Broadway's elite knowledgeable in the fact his lack of heart and poison pen yield exclusive rights and power. The most sensitive and sensible one in the collective bunch, the one lacking a true stinger, is Karen Richards (played wonderfully by Celeste Holm), Margo's best friend and confidante, who finds herself caught between the queen and a hard place when she accidentally makes a pact with the devil. Thelma Ritter couldn't be overlooked if she tried. An inveterate scene-stealer, she weathers strong competition this time in a movie crammed with clever conversation and pungent zingers. As coarse but well-meaning Birdie Coonan, a brash ex-vaudevillian now the queen's ever-loyal "drone", Ritter's character properly handles her boss's antics with amusing grit and backbone. On the periphery of this Broadway beehive is mop-faced Gregory Ratoff as an edgy, gullible, thick-accented producer, Marilyn Monroe as a hopelessly vacuous starlet, and Barbara Bates, as a novice schemer with a very bright future, all making their few scenes count -- especially Bates, who is forever enshrined in the film's stunning final shot.

    The chief thorn in Margo's (and everybody's) side, and the other real star of this picture, is the queen's titular lady-in-waiting, Eve Harrington. As played by Anne Baxter, this role is probably the most delicate and difficult of all for the weight and believability of this drama falls squarely on her shoulders. Unfairly overlooked all these years by the flashier posturings of Davis, Baxter does a beautiful job of drawing initial pathos then panic as she slowly unveils her own lethal stinger. By film's end, Baxter is directly on par with her scenery-chewing co-star. Killer to killer. Champion to champion.

    Six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director (Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Best Screenplay (also Mankiewicz) and Supporting Actor (George Sanders) went to this cinematic bon mot. Had Bette Davis and Anne Baxter not competed as Best Actress (Baxter refused to place herself in the Supporting Actress category), it would have drummed up two more awards to be sure.

    Developing a faithful cult following over the years, this film deserves to be on everybody's "top ten" list.
  • What a movie! It's the cinematic ideal, the standard by which subsequent films are judged, at least in terms of acting and dialogue. Maybe the camera, which does nothing but sit there as the actors act, could have been made a little less static. But the story screams stage play, which implies lots of talk and not much "action". The film doesn't pretend to do all things. But what it does do, it does extremely well.

    As Margo, Bette Davis gives what I would consider one of the best performances, if not the best performance, in any film I have ever seen. She truly becomes Margo, that "fixture of the theater", so beloved yet so insecure. And as Eve, "the mousy one, with the trench coat and the funny hat", breathy Anne Baxter proves adept at subtleties that allow her character to change gradually over time.

    Then there's George Sanders who effortlessly slips into the role of witty, urbane, pompous Addison DeWitt, columnist magnifico, a man whose high opinion of himself allows him to declare to us, as viewers, that he is "essential to the theater". Celeste Holm and reliable Thelma Ritter give topnotch performances as well.

    And the Mankiewicz script, which tells the story of a group of theater people, is heavy on dialogue, but it's totally believable, as characters talk shop and interrelate, by means of suitable verbal conflict and subtle subtext. Even more than that, the dialogue is witty and clever, with tons of theatrical metaphors, like when Bill (Gary Merrill) angrily tells Margo: "And to intimate anything else doesn't spell jealousy to me, it spells a paranoid insecurity that you should be ashamed of." To which Margo just as angrily spits out: "Cut, print it, what happens in the next reel? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pits?"

    One of my favorite scenes has several people sitting on a stairway at a party. A curvaceous but bird-brained Miss Casswell (Marilyn Monroe), "from the Copacabana school of acting", desires another drink. "Oh waiter!", she yells out. Addison schools her: "That isn't a waiter, my dear; that's a butler." To which she fires back: "Well I can't yell 'Oh butler', can I? Maybe somebody's name is Butler". Addison then concedes: "You have a point, an idiotic one, but a point."

    I'm not sure I really like the characters in this film. Generally, they're self-absorbed, vain, haughty, and backbiting. They're not all that likable. And that would be my only serious complaint.

    Otherwise, "All About Eve" is a film that excels at great language and great acting. If ever there was a film that deserves the status of "classic", this is surely it.
  • Bil-327 March 2001
    Here's perfect writing if ever a movie ever had it-where did Joseph L. Mankiewicz come up with these people? Who would have thought he could not only revive Bette Davis' career with her greatest-ever role, but actually make her even more fascinating than she ever was before? Davis plays famous and established actress Margo Channing, a self-centred and tough but vulnerable woman who is purused relentlessly by Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a seemingly innocent woman who worships Channing-she even becomes her personal assistant. However, her devotion soon becomes sinister, and Margo lets her friends know, though they just think she's being selfish and unfair. Celeste Holm is excellent as Margo's best friend, who at first is on Eve's side but eventually sees how conniving Eve can be and how ruthless she is in climbing to the top. The party scene early on in the film features some of the film's best lines (`Fasten your seat belts…it's going to be a bumpy night!'), though my personal favourite is when Davis tells Baxter to put her award `where you heart should be'; Margo Channing is just about the best female character of the fifties. Features Marilyn Monroe in an early role.
  • JohnHowardReid30 August 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    Brilliantly acted and cleverly characterized, with sparkling dialogue that mercilessly parries the gloss from the New York theater world's highly sophisticated veneer, "All About Eve" is a scintillating comedy of manners that compels rapt attention for the whole of its 2¼ hours. We like George Sanders, pointing out Gregory Ratoff to his escort, Marilyn Monroe (whom the script describes as "a member of the Copacabana school of acting"), with the words: "There's a real live producer, honey! Go and do yourself some good!" And the final scene, in which Sanders asks Barbara Bates, "Do you want some day to have an award like that of your own?" — "More than anything else in the world!" she answers. "Then you must ask Miss Harrington how to get one", he replies. "Miss Harrington knows all about it!"

    It is often complained of Mankiewicz's work that it is too stagey and too talkative, that there is not sufficient movement. There is some justice in this charge in the consideration of such films as Five Fingers, The Quiet American, House of Strangers, and Dragonwyck; certainly Mankiewicz's two spectacles, Guys and Dolls and Cleopatra, are much improved by sharp editing. But in his best films, The Late George Apley, A Letter to Three Wives, All About Eve, People Will Talk (which I regard as his masterpiece — it was too off-beat, unfortunately, for contemporary audiences or critics to appreciate), and The Barefoot Contessa, any trace of over- talkativeness is more than offset by the range and variety, the unusualness of the characters. Moreover, it is the characters themselves that determine the plot — not the fate or some external force.

    Thus, in All About Eve, Margo Channing is the victim of her egocentricity, Sampson the victim of his own cynicism and Richards, the victim of his own ingenuousness. Eve Harrington is cunning and ruthless enough to exploit these traits in her climb to stardom. Besides Mankiewicz's two awards, All About Eve also won statuettes for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders), Best Costumes and Best Sound Recording. Also, producer Darryl Zanuck won the Thalberg Memorial Award for consistent high-quality production over the previous three years.

    The film also won the New York Film Critics' Citation for Best Picture, Best Direction and Best Actress (Bette Davis). Actually, I thought that Miss Davis' performance, fine as it was, was overshadowed by Anne Baxter's interpretation of the scheming Eve. To cover with a winning veneer of innocence a character that would not stop at blackmail or adultery to win stardom, cannot have been an easy assignment for a young actress; yet Miss Baxter brought it off flawlessly.

    OTHER VIEWS: I'd had the general idea for All About Eve in mind for a long time. But I never had a middle, a second act. Then our New York office submitted a short story by Mary Orr called "The Wisdom of Eve" — later a radio script — and I had my second act. Incidentally, Zanuck deserves some credit for what happened. He was the only studio head in town with the courage and intelligence to try new things. I don't think I could have made this picture on any other lot but 20th Century- Fox. -- J.L.M.
  • smartbomb29 August 2000
    I had read comments about the quality of the writing in this film but I really had no idea to what extent this would elevate the experience. The fact is, it leaves me with no other choice than to give it a perfect 10. Unless you see this film, I don't think you'll have the necessary frame of reference with which to to base any expectations on. It's an incredibly engrossing, moving and often comedic experience, but time and time again what knocks you over is the absolute finesse with which this script was crafted. The fact that the acting and direction are flawless and surprisingly natural-seeming (most old movies usually seem stiff or people seem to "act" too much) only enhances it that much more. With this film, you can really imagine the *people* the actors are portraying.

    "All About Eve" shows some similarity to one of my other favourite 50s films "A Face in the Crowd". Both are studies of fame and celebrity. Eve shows how a person will corrupt themselves in order to attain it, whereas A Face's premise is that fame corrupts those who find themselves in the spotlight. Both have themes that are perhaps even more resonant in our celebrity-obsessed culture now than when they were made. Interestingly, Eve predates A Face by several years.

    And possibly most interesting of all is the honest and often raw way in which women are portrayed, the strength of their character and the power they wield. The male contingent is practically relegated to the back seat. One might be hard pressed to find a movie quite so "liberated" today. So what more can I say? If you love movies and you haven't yet seen it, you've suffered long enough; don't wait another day.
  • The ambitious Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) gets close to the great and temperamental stage artist Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and her friends Karen Richards (Celeste Holm) and her husband, the play-writer Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe); her boyfriend and director Bill Sampson (Gary Marrow); and the producer Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff). Everybody, except the cynical critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), believe that Eve is only a naive, humble and simple obsessed fan of Margo and they try to help her. However, Eve is indeed a cynical and manipulative snake that uses the lives of Margo and her friends to reach her objectives in the theater business.

    "All About Eve" is a magnificent timeless tale of ambition, manipulation and betrayal, and certainly one of the best classics ever. Everything perfectly works in this movie: the direction is very precise and tight; dialogs are very acid and intelligent; Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders and Celeste Holm have awesome performances in very powerful characters; the dramatic story is amazingly good, showing what an evil person can plot to reach fame and success. I believe this movie will always be among my ten favorite movies ever. My vote is ten.

    Title (Brazil): "A Malvada" ("The Wicked")
  • All About Eve is simply the perfect film. Fact follows fiction in the casting of Bette Davis, a star who was an incredible actress but fighting the inevitable - the passage of time. First off, Better Davis was always an incredible actress, no matter what part she took and this was the perfect part for her. Anne Baxter is tremendous in the part of Eve - she plays the part well. It's multi-faceted and challenging and she definitely rose to the challenge. Celeste Holm is great, too. She's got a smaller part but does a great job with it. Celeste Holm is an actress who has incredible stature, even in the later years of her career, like when she was in that television show "Promised Land." But Addison DeWitt - takes the cake. I can see why he won the Oscar. I don't want to say much about the story. The film is one that has to be taken in as a whole to be truly appreciated. Enjoy it - it's as tasty as honey! One thing - please never let them make a re-make of this film - it's perfect. It's off limits. It would be painting a new version of the Mona Lisa. This one is perfect!
  • gerry15913 April 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    **************this might contain spoilers**********************

    The movie Perfect Stranger opened today and as many critic noted the script was not up to standard. But then again one is always reading how today's script's just don't cut it. And one wonders why? Surly today's directors can draw upon previous movie scripts if no more than to see how well they are constructed. And no script was more in it's craft that Joseph L. Mankiewicz's All About Eve. I could also point out Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity and a few others but All About Eve is one one Mankiewicz's best, along with A Letter to Three Wives and the charming People Will Talk. But, as many a poster knows All About Eve garnered 14 academy award nominations, winning 6. Bette Davis was robbed! Sure, Gloria Swanson was dazzling in Sunset Boulevard but she didn't have the competition Miss Davis had in All About Eve. There was Anne Baxter reprising a similar role she played in the 1944 film Guest in the House. And George Sanders playing a variation of his role in The Picture of Dorian Gray. I think the academy members gave him his award for his magnificent body of work. His award was well deserved. But miss Baxter couldn't hold a candle to Miss Davis who essayed her role in 14 days. And out of sequence. The first scene filmed for the movie was Miss Davis encountering Addison De Witt in the lobby of the theatre. The producers could only get the theatre for a certain time not on it's schedule so did what it had to do. Film that scene. The interior of the theatre scene was filmed at a later date. Many people don't know that Hollywood is a very small town. And the academy award members is not a large body at all, maybe a little over two thousand. But at that time the members had long memories and since Miss Davis was no longer Queen of Hollywood let alone under a contract to a major studio they knew they had no allegiance to her. She had stepped on too many academy members toes, and some still felt the sting. Gloria Swanson, well, she just came out of retirement for this one film and so they felt no allegiance to her, either. Neither studio backed the two stars. And the award went to Judy Holliday for a very boring movie called Born Yesterday. A role that Miss Holliday had performed on Broadway many many time. It's hard to watch Born Yesterday today and you really wonder why the members didn't give the academy award to Miss Davis. All About Eve is a timeless movie, a classic and a gem and the towering performance in the entire film is by Bette Davis. To go further in the case of vendetta, the members did give Katherine Hepburn an award for her unforgettable performance in The Lion in Winter but to make sure Davis couldn't catch Hepburn she got another award for the insipid Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, a role not worthy of an academy award. Still, Miss Davis somehow comes out a true winner when all one has to do is to watch All About Eve. We are her academy award.
  • What can you say about a film like this? It has one of the greatest screenplays ever written, fabulous directing, and sensational performances by Anne Baxter, Bette Davis and George Sanders. And on top of it all, it's got Marilyn Monroe! What more could you want?!? It's full of snappy dialogue, great one liners, and a realistic and interesting plot. The epitome of good movie making. Oh, if only today's filmmakers were forced to watch All About Eve before they were allowed to make their own!
  • All About Eve is an excellent film in every aspect. The 14 Oscar nominations, and six wins, testify to this. For 47 years EVE held the record for most nominations -- in 1997 Titanic matched the 14 nominations. Bette Davis was awarded the New York Critics Award once in her 58 year career -- and it was for this film. Marilyn Monroe, Thelma Ritter and Celeste Holms gave terrific supporting performances while Anne Baxter kept up with the great Bette every frame of the way. It was Bette's eighth nomination, and sixth loss; Judy Holiday won for Born Yesterday, beating two legends -- Gloria Swanson was also nominated that year for Sunset Blvd. All About Eve was the first film to be released after Bette ended her 18 years with Warner Brothers. For a moment she was back on top of the world, only to find disappointment throughout the 50's with choices and offerings in Hollywood. The writing by Mankiewicz and supporting performance by George Saunders would alone make the film worth viewing -- A NEAR PEFECT FILM!
  • They say that talk is cheap but you wouldn't believe it listening to the pearls that drip from the mouths of the characters in this, the greatest of all the dialogue-driven comedies to have come out of Hollywood, (at the time it was nominated for a then record 14 Oscar nominations and won 6). It opens with a monologue that introduces all the leading players that is at once literate and cinematic at the same time and you know instantly that his is, above all, a movie to listen to. (What film-buff doesn't quote its screenplay ad-nauseum; gay men, at least according to "The Boys in the Band", are said to know the script by heart). And while drag queens the world over have always based their Bette Davis imitations on the character of Margo Channing, (Davis' greatest role and her greatest performance), the film is never merely camp. The acerbic wit that runs through the film always has a ring of truth to it; the characters, overblown as they are, are always recognizably human.

    The acting alone is to die for. Can you believe that other actresses were once considered for the role of Margo? (Claudette Colbert?). Davis makes it her own not by acting Margo but by being Margo. I can't think of another role more indelibly suited to an actress than this. In a lesser film she might have swamped her co-stars but Mankiewicz, who wrote and directed, gives everyone equal credence.

    Anne Baxter was never better than as the poisonous Eve; Celeste Holm, wonderful as the clipped, sophisticated Karen; George Sanders oozing epigrams as if from every pore as the screen's most famous critic, Addison DeWitt, (what a name!). These were career-best performances and in smaller parts, Thelma Ritter's cynical, wise-cracking Dresser, Birdie, and Marilyn Monroe's vacuous Miss Caswell, ('a graduate of the Copocobana school of dramatic art'), are just as unforgettable. In the seventies someone had the, not very bright, idea of turning it into a Broadway musical called 'Applause'. While not half-bad you still came away feeling you had seen a karaoke version of "All About Eve".
  • This is not a movie geared for those who would stand in line for the latest cinemeplexific car chase head banging rock music special effect buster of blocks. This movie is all about adults. And the main focus is (SHOCK!) and adult woman!! Who is hitting 40!!

    Bette Davis' Margo Channing is successful and self-involved and loving and generous and jealous and human. Ann Bancroft's Eve has such a sincere and melifluous voice. Thelma Ritter's character is a fast talking dame, Celeste Holm's is a more contemplative one and Marilyn is a hoot. Watch Margo get applause, get drunk, get duped, get a clue, get her man. "Glory Hallelujah!"

    The men in the film, nameless here but wonderful on screen, are not spineless tools for the women. Okay, maybe Celeste's husband is easily manipulated as is the producer - but Margo's man "When I want something, I go after it, I don't want it to come after me" and Sanders' critic "who do you think you are fooling?" are manly men right off the rugged individualist rack (okay, it's a long rack . . .)

    Great story, well told, great cast, well done!

    If anyone thinks that any of these people are not *perfect* in this movie - George Sanders? Thelma Ritter? Marilyn Monroe? Celeste Holm? Bette Davis? Ann Bancroft? - I would like to take issue with you - behind the cineplex at high noon.
  • dimitrisalomao31 March 2010
    "All About Eve" is the kind of movie that blows your mind, not because of special effect or something like that, but because of what movies are all about, a great direction, a great screenplay, and great acting.

    Stage star Margo Channing(Davis) is friend to playwright Lloyd Richards(Marlowe) and his wife Karen(Holm), in love with director Bill Samson(Merill), and the idol of Eve Harrington(Baxter) who becomes her secretary-aide. Eve begins to dominate: she sends Bill Margo's birthday wishes and arranges a party for him, at which point Margo explodes. Eve becomes Margo's understudy and, when Margo misses a performance, critic Addison DeWitt gives her rave reviews while making acerbic remarks about aging actresses like Margo.

    In it's first scenes, you can see an unusual style in this kind of movie, and it doesn't look old, even nowadays. The plot is not very entertaining, but the dialogues and the acting grabs your attention, and some quotes leave you speechless to describe how good they are, and it's memorable scenes, like the dialogues between Eve and Bill about the theater, and the last scene, which is probably the best one, are awesome.

    The acting is almost perfect by all it's cast, except for Marilyn Monroe's short appearance, that with three or four lines, can show that she is not in the same acting level of the rest of the cast. Bette Davis is what really stands out (Although George Sanders as DeWitt is almost as good as her), she's funny, and know where to show her emotions, and when to hide it.

    Verdict: Almost everything works, and it's a classic that should not be missed.
  • Maybe, stretching a point, this movie could have been called 'All About Actors'?

    There've been a number of films that explore the passion for success on the stage: Stage Door (1937) and A Star Is Born (first made in 1937 and made several times thereafter) being two of the most notable. And, other films have also taken an introspective look at the machinations of the acting profession – The Player (1992) and even the goofy, but entertaining, Get Shorty (1995).

    This one, however, is the definitive voyeuristic analysis of why actors will do anything to get to the top, for three reasons. First, it has a script that is flawless in its construction, logic and plot development; to use a hackneyed phrase – it all hangs together seamlessly, showing – and telling, with three different voice-overs – the depths to which some go to reach the heights of narcissistic glory. Second, such a film required a strong hand to keep the actors in check, to prevent it from descending into farce, and that's why Joe Mankiewicz was needed; well, it was his script, anyway – so who better to direct, with his fine record of films? And, third, the main protagonists: never before, I think, has a script followed so closely the juxtaposition of a true star (Bette Davis) in her waning years, playing an actress in her waning years, and being challenged by a relative newcomer (Anne Baxter), playing a newcomer challenging the aging star. Such delicious irony, I think, is rare to see on screen. Add to that, a collection of actors (George Sanders, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Celeste Holm, the irrepressible Thelma Ritter) of the time who ably and professionally flesh out a drama about the reality of life in fiction.

    Perhaps even more interesting than the actual film would have been a documentary filming the action on the sets, as the film was made... One can only dream, I guess, to have been a fly on the wall.

    A word about the dialog: checking the above link for Quotes, I see that all of the lines I rate as some of the best I've heard, all show up in the list – which is, also, one of the longest list of quotable film quotes I've seen. If you're hesitating about seeing this film, just scan through those quotes to get a sense of what is in store.

    As implied, the direction from Mankiewicz and the acting – particularly Davis, Baxter and Sanders – are riveting. Bette Davis is the personification of diminishing self-confidence as the onset of age dominates and depresses; Baxter is almost sociopathic in her portrayal of naked ambition disguised as sycophantic concern for one and all, but particularly for those who will advance her ambitions; and George Sanders does give the performance of his career and deservedly received the award for Best Supporting Actor. Other actors (Dick Powell or Claude Rains, for example) could have played that role, for sure; Sanders, however, does such a good job, it's a though the character of Addison DeWitt (what a play on word sound – Addison, the wit and critic, given a name that sounds like a New Yorker's disparaging put-down. Was Mankiewicz having a bit of fun at New York's expense?) morphs into George Sanders completely. And, vice-versa...

    So, treat yourself to a filmic experience that you'll never see repeated – for obvious and sad reasons. But also, this type of narrative is long gone from the Hollywood scene: talky movies are box-office death these days, as we all know – unless you're in a Phone Booth (2002) or on a Cellular (2004).

    One can only hope that nobody attempts a remake of this masterpiece. Highest recommendation...
  • emguy18 January 2004
    I'm afraid I'm not going to join the gush parade for this movie.

    The performances are good, Eve and Margo are well-done characters, and the ending is like something out of the Twilight Zone, but the movie also has a number of shortcomings.

    It's very talky -- nothing but talk, hardly a moment of silence. The dialogue seems more stagey than natural. The characters don't converse so much as declaim or emote. The dialogue doesn't seem witty as some have claimed, just bitter and cynical (for the most part).

    The visuals aren't very visual. The shots are mostly ordinary shots of whoever's talking at the moment. There's little character movement. This could easily have been a radio play.

    The relationship between Margo and boyfriend seems contrived. There's no apparent reason why they should be so attached to each other. It doesn't come across. In fact, they seem quite unattached to each other initially, but the movie changes its mind abruptly in midcourse.

    I'll confess a bias against actors acting about acting. It's the kind of self-referential, self-reverential stuff that bugs me, like news reporters reporting on each other instead of the news, or playwrights writing plays about plays. It smacks of taking oneself far too seriously. (Okay, it's a pet peeve, but there you go.)

    But despite these shortcomings, it's still worth watching to the end.
  • phoeniks-121 August 2005
    Along with "Sunset Boulevard" and "The bad and the beautiful" this is the best film about Hollywood behind the masks and all the glamor of theater and film. Extremely stagy, but Bette Davis was never better, and George Sanders is as always deliciously slimy and arrogant to the max; only Baxter is not quite convincing as the star to be. But it does not really matter because the direction is great, and the dialog is amazing all the way. A real roller-coaster of a movie that contains both bundles of laughter, and some truly terrifying moments as well. Davis has the line of a lifetime that expresses the essence of the film: "Fasten your seat belts! It's gonna be a bumpy night!"
  • jotix10018 September 2004
    Joseph L. Mankiewicz was a genius and this is his masterpiece, without a doubt! Mr. Mankiewicz's timeless tale for this film was something that paralleled the great writing of another author that knew the inside of the human race: Honore de Balzac.

    In this story about the theater, all the elements come together to weave a perfect movie, one that will endure the passage of time. Mr. Mankiewicz's screen play is about blind ambition and to what extremes does a person goes in order to realize that goal. The writer seems to be telling us that to Eve Harrington, her end justified the means by which she arrived at getting where she got.

    The cast assembled for the movie was the perfect blend of styles and acting ability. This film is dominated by Eve Harrington, who, Anne Baxter plays to perfection. We first see her as the adoring fan to Margo Channing, the star of the hit play on Broadway. She will do anything to get to where Margo Channing is. In a way, Eve is a user of the worst kind. She used Karen Richards, Margo's best friend in order to get in the theater world where she finally makes a splash.

    In that theatrical world, we encounter all kinds of sub species that tend to gravitate toward the limelight where others are shining brighter. They will do anything in their power in order to 'belong' to the glamour and all the things that go hand in hand in that circle.

    Anne Baxter was an amazing Eve Harrington. She was a young actress then, who showed a lot of talent and was perfectly cast for that role. Bette Davis makes Margo Channing come alive. Ms. Davis shows us what is to be at the top of her class and suddenly see her world begin to crumble, which in a way, it's the way of the theater. The theater and the movies are cruel to the stars that dare to age in front of our eyes. There will always be prettier and younger actresses to bask in their moment of glory in front of the adoring public, but watch out, never get old!

    George Sanders as the bitchy Addison Dewitt, is the maker and breaker of many a career. He has the power to destroy anyone that doesn't play by his rules. Mr. Sanders was excellent by being the cynic in a make believe land. In a way, the writer is telling us that even then, there was something rotten in theater critics that will ruin a play by just disliking it in the press.

    Celeste Holm is also effective as Karen Richards, a friend indeed, until she is used to give Eve her big break. Thelma Ritter is a delight to watch as Birdie, the wise maid that sees right through a phony when she sees one. Gary Merrill, George Ratoff, Hugh Marlowe and a young and fresh Marilyn Monroe complete the cast.

    Never before did a movie packed such an impact to reveal so much about the human comedy, as in this one. After all, that comedy, or call it tragedy, has existed since the beginning of time. All this because a brilliant Joseph L. Mankiewicz brought to the screen to dazzle audiences forever.
  • As a whole, this film was pretty good. Fine performances from Anne Baxter as Eve, the brilliantly phony schemer, George Sanders as the caustic critic Addison de Witt, (His opening voiceover monologue is hilarious), Thelma Ritter as the cynical maid, Hugh Marlowe and Celeste Holm as the playwright and his wife, and, in an early small role, Marilyn Monroe as a wannabe starlet. The script has great moments of biting humor and all that, yes, and Joseph Mancewicz's direction is pretty good, too. But there are plenty of moments when the film simply dissolves into talkiness, and it gets a little slow and boring. The film is at its best when Bette Davis, giving no doubt her best performance as fading star Margo Channing, really lets loose and lets her costars have it, as in the scene where she fights with Marlowe in the theater. She is also good when being vulnerable and revealing in some of the quieter scenes, but the talkiness factor does override her a little bit. Not quite as scathing and cynical as "Sunset Boulevard," but close.
  • I had never watched this "Best Picture of 1950" until a couple of years ago because it just looked like one of those 1950s melodramas (translation: soap operas) that I can't stand, and it starred an older Bette Davis, who was only appealing to me in her youth in the 1930s. However, after hearing and reading so many rave reviews of this, especially on the IMDb Classic Board, and the fact it was out on DVD, I decided to check it out.

    I was glad I did. I liked it, thought it was entertaining and worth the 138-minute investment. I still didn't find it as good as advertised - at least for my tastes - but it was still a pretty involving story with good acting. How it could have been up for so many Academy Awards - 14, I believe - is beyond me, however.

    Neverthess, it's main attribute, as advertised, is the dialog which sparkles with "intelligence," as the Liberal film critic-elitists like to refer to it. It's a "smart" comedy, they say from their ivory towers. Make no mistake: the dialog is good, but I've heard just as good from some film noirs and other movies. Movies put more of a premium on that sort of stuff back in the days before computerized special-effects and limited attention spans took over.

    The best dialog came from George Sanders, playing a sharp-tongued theater critic. Davis was next, which is no surprise. Her career, thanks to her own real- life efforts to get good roles, was doted with characters that had good dialog. This role kept her Hollywood career going as it had been fading as she approached 40 years of age. She was beginning to look older than her years and many times that spelled "death" to an actress, but she was not the average actress.

    The only character in the film I couldn't stand was "Eve," by Anne Baxter, not for her role but for the way she delivered her lines. Baxter didn't do this at first, but as the film went on she kept finishing sentence after sentence with a whisper. It was extremely annoying and affected. People don't talk like that!

    Overall, for a film dominated by dialog for almost two hours and 20 minutes, it did a great job of holding one's interest. I only found one part that really lagged. It's a good movie - a well-crafted story - but putting in almost-mythical status as one of the greatest of all times, as some have, is a bit exaggerated.
  • As story of a young "fan" who manipulates her way to supplant her idol, Eve is a funny take on show business and its ageism. Yet the satire runs deeper and more personal than that as Eve (the character) is not content to merely supplant Margo professionally but tries to be a homewrecker. It speaks to the way powerful men dispose of women if they which a certain age. And how unfair that is too everyone.

    It is not just the men who come out looking awful. Eve is an unscrupulous witch. Margo, the brilliantly self-parody of Davis, is a flighty devil who settles for scraps. Karen, the nicest of the bunch, commits the greatest wrong. Birdie is ultimately a coward. None of the characters look good, but they are fully human.

    A lot of this is due to Mankiewic's smart screenplay and polished direction. Filled with irony, great one liners the screenplay deftly handles everyone's agendas. It also makes sure that everyone gets their just desserts. Likewise, the uniform excellent of the acting and how memorable the big scenes are are testament to Mankiewic's direction.

    One last thing Addison DeWitt, the acid tongue critic is one of the great characters in history. It is so perfect that he outsmarts Eve and pretty much ever thing out of his month is comedic gold. George Sanders is just perfect in this. One of the great antagonists of cinema.
  • A truly masterpiece, perfect acting and breathtaking plot.
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