Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early and watched 1950’s All About Eve. Lauren had watched it the night before. I tried to watch it with her, but fell fast asleep and wound up sleeping not only through the movie, but a friend’s birthday party.
All About Eve is a really interesting movie with some outstanding acting. And for the first time in all of our Best Picture movies that I can remember, the viewer is deceived into believing one thing, but halfway through learns the truth, truly spinning the movie upside-down. In All About Eve, we’re led to believe that Eve is an innocent, poor young woman with nowhere to go. And actress Anne Baxter pulls this off beautifully.
Eve spends every waking minute at the theater, watching her idol, Margo Channing, an aging veteran of the stage who is past her prime and on the cusp of losing her grip on lead female roles. Margo’s friend Karen winds up taking Eve in off the streets to become Margo’s personal assistant, and when Margo’s understudy gets pregnant, Eve is promoted to understudy as well. After all, she knows Margo’s role so well from the play she sees twice a day.
(Spoilers ahead!) Eve has earned everyone’s trust, and one day gets a chance to fill in for Margo. She dazzles and becomes the next big thing on stage. Once she gets famous, the truth comes out that she’s not so poor or homeless, but she was really a conniving, tenacious young woman who was all along out to replace Margo Channing for her role in a big upcoming play. Everyone now hates Eve, but she’s achieved what she set out to do. And she’d better be careful, because the movie ends with another young girl about to do to her what she did to Margo.
Overall, I thought it was a great movie, one of the very best so far. Top three for sure. The acting of Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, and Celeste Holm as the three female leads was excellent. I found some of the behind-the-scenes stuff to be really interesting too, as the movie very closely mimicked the actresses’ real lives. All About Eve also was one of the first movies that then-unknown Marilyn Monroe appeared in. Her role wasn’t very prominent, but memorable.
My favorite part of this movie is how subtly Eve’s character changes throughout, from very likable and innocent, slowly towards hatable. And how at the same time, the complete opposite can be said of Margo’s character, who starts out bitter and unlikable and winds up being the good one.
The only actor to receive an Academy Award for this movie, however, was George Sanders for Best Supporting Actor. It was assumed Bette Davis would win Best Actress and Anne Baxter would win Best Supporting Actress, but Baxter complained and demanded to be included in the running for Best Actress. With the two stealing votes from each other, an underdog won instead.
Next up is 1951’s An American in Paris, followed by 1952’s The Greatest Show on Earth. Slowly we’re getting into some colored movies.