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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Bette Davis as Margo
George Sanders as Addison DeWitt
Celeste Holm as Karen
Gary Merrill as Bill Simpson
Hugh Marlowe as Lloyd Richards
Gregory Ratoff as Max Fabian
Barbara Bates as Phoebe
Marilyn Monroe as Miss Casswell
Thelma Ritter as Birdie
Walter Hampden as Aged Actor
Randy Stuart as Eve's Pal on Telephone
Craig Hill as Leading Man in 'Footsteps on the Ceiling'
Leland Harris as Doorman
Storyline: Aspiring actress Eve Harrington maneuvers her way into the lives of Broadway star Margo Channing, playwright Lloyd Richards and director Bill Sampson. This classic story of ambition and betrayal has become part of American folklore. Bette Davis claims to have based her character on the persona of film actress Talullah Bankhead. Davis' line "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night" is legendary, but, in fact, all of the film's dialog sparkles with equal brilliance.
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Cinema at its best!
All About Eve is truly one of the wittiest and classiest films ever made! The screenplay is superb and the actors are all divine, especially Bette Davis in her best role ever! A real gem, a true classic.
A 'Good' Movie Is As Far As I'll Go
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.
Well done, but the plot isn't for me
I understood the basic ideas of the plot, and the motivations of each character. However, in most of the scenes I wasn't feeling drawn in, and it often became difficult to watch. I think a substantial amount of content could have been cut, and it would make for a tighter and more concise film. Karen (I think that's her name, the person who first introduces Margo to Eve), I can't remember almost anything about. Some scenes, like the ones between Addison and Eve, were really great.

I originally thought I was going to have to write that Eve seems like a fake character, too happy and childlike, etc. but that changes. She goes through an excellent character arc. Margo was amazing, and really seemed to be a genuine, weary star.
When art imitates life, where does reality end?
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...
#1 All Time Favourite
I first saw part of this film on TV when I was about 10...and I laughed out loud. Unfortunately it was lunch time and I had to go back to school. It was many years before I actually saw the entire film, on the big screen, at a revival house in Toronto. I have since seen it more times than I can count, and I still laugh continually throughout. Best movie line of all time: "You're too short for that gesture!" I have to admit that I had seen the film about 20 times before I finally figured out what Marilyn said while going off towards wasn't "Why do they always look like nappy rabbits?" (which made no sense)....but "Why do they always look like UNhappy rabbits?" Her diction or my hearing? Had it been a play it would have the same stature as "The Importance of Being Ernest". We're probably lucky it wasn't, and it should never never NEVER be would be like re-painting the Mona Lisa. Frame for frame, word for word, perfection. It never ages and it never gets thin. "Ah men!"
Sets the stage for future female undermines female films
I actually watched All About Eve a few years back on the classic movie channel. It is an interesting film with a great cast (notably Sher Khan from the Jungle Book! Hey it's a big deal to me). The story is a haughty and over-confident woman being upstaged by a younger, manipulative starlet. It's a powerful film and a cautionary tale about getting too comfortable in one's position of power. There will always been someone working to overpower you in your field. You must always remain on top of your game. The game is never over either, for in the end when Eve feels she has one, a new challenger appears, and she realizes with horror that she is now where her old opponent once was.
Superb Acting And Dialogue
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.
Manipulation and lies.
"A part in a play. You'd do all that just for a part in a play?"

All About Eve is a sneaky tale about deceit and pure ambition, set within the world of the New York theater scene.

Eve (Anne Baxter) seems to be a sympathetic, helpful young woman, who find herself unexpectedly meeting her idol, the great stage actress Margo Chandler (Bette Midler). She begins to work for the star, seemingly completely content to help her in any way she can. But Eve is much more ambitious than her sweet, helpful demeanor suggests, and she brings all kinds of trouble to Margo and others in her bids for her own personal fame and stardom. 

I can't really find any flaws with the premise of All About Eve, or the acting. It's a well- made movie with a great cast. For some reason, though, my interest in it stayed fairly subdued. I did get more into the story during the second half, but I'm forced to concede that for some reason, I wasn't the primary audience for this one. I did love the ending, though. 

Solid movie, but I believe others will probably have a more enthusiastic reaction to All About Eve than I did. 
Just Brilliant!
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.
All About Eve
From Oscar winning, and Golden Globe nominated director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Guys and Dolls, Cleopatra), I didn't know much about this classic drama, but with a good cast list, I was willing to try it. Basically ambitious Eve Harrington (Oscar nominated Anne Baxter) is very fond of actress Margo Channing (Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Bette Davis), and manages to get close to her boyfriend, and her friends Karen Richards (Oscar nominated Celeste Holm) and her play writer husband Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), director Bill Simpson (Gary Merrill) and producer Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff). All the big shots, except for cynical critic Addison DeWitt (Oscar winning, and Golden Globe nominated George Sanders), believing she is only a naive and obsessive fan of Margo's, but Eve is much more cynical, manipulative and conniving than that. Using the lives of Margo and her friends, all along she planned to become an actress, and she achieves her goal of Broadway stardom, leaving a trail of unhappiness for everyone behind her. The end sees her accepting the highest award for any stage performer, and another fan wanting to see the now famous Eve, and it seems, this naive girl may have the same sneaky plans. Also starring Barbara Bates as Phoebe, then rising star Marilyn Monroe as Miss Casswell and Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Thelma Ritter as Birdie. Baxter may not be the conventional wicked witch/bunny boiler/psychopathic bitch villain, in fact, she may not even by the right person for the role, yet even with a few appearances, she is a good light villain. Davis is very good as the emotionally wrecked actress, then little known Monroe makes the most of her few minutes, same goes for Ritter. I can see why critics complained about it being too chatty, and yet it is this, being witty and cynical, that makes the film very watchable. It won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Costume Design, Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay for Mankiewicz, and it was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Music for Alfred Newman, it won the BAFTA for Best Film from any Source, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, and it was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama. Eve Harrington was number 23 on 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains, Bette Davis was number 45 on The 100 Greatest Movie Stars, she was number 2 on 100 Years, 100 Stars - Women, and she was number 17 on The World's Greatest Actor, she was also number 2 on 100 Years, 100 Stars - Womem, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night." was number 9 on 100 Years, 100 Quotes, the film was number 30 on Film 4's 50 Films You Must See Before You Die, and it was number 16 on 100 Years, 100 Movies. Very good!
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