Monday, March 9, 2015

Classic Movie - "All About Eve" (1950)

Until yesterday, I had never seen what everyone considers a classic, "All About Eve".

The movie won six Oscars in 1950, including Best Picture, and starred Bette Davis as Broadway star Margo Channing and Anne Baxter as the title character, the scheming Eve Harrington.  Eve presents herself to Margo as her biggest fan, ingratiates herself to Margo and her entourage and becomes a kind of personal assistant to her.  Eve then plots and schemes to undermine Margo at every turn in order to become a star herself.

"All About Eve" was nominated for fourteen Academy Awards, winning six of them, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders) and Best Director and Best Screenplay (Joseph L. Mankiewicz).  Among it's nominations were both Bette Davis and Anne Baxter for Best Actress and Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter for Best Supporting Actress.  Also featured was a young Marilyn Monroe, who appeared briefly as an aspiring actress.

1950 was quite a year for movies.  Going up against "All About Eve" for Best Picture that year was the Billy Wilder's classic "Sunset Boulevard".  Talk about a heavyweight championship bout!  Gloria Swanson was nominated for Best Actress that year as well, and it has been long thought that the classic portrayals of Margo Channing and Norma Desmond by Davis and Swanson cancelled each other put and allowed Judy Holliday to win the Oscar for her performance in "Born Yesterday".   The Best Actor award was won by Jose Ferrer for "Cyrano de Bergerac" against a field that also included William Holden, James Stewart, and Spencer Tracy.

Perhaps the best part of this movie was the script.  Lots of great quotes and long pieces of dialog for each of the characters, especially Bette Davis, who was really terrific playing the Broadway grande dame who was fearing that her star was in its descent and that she might be pushed out by someone younger.  In that regard, Margo Channing had much in common with Norma Desmond (although Margo wasn't flat out nuts).

One of the thrusts of this movie was comparing the milieu of Broadway to Hollywood, and in that regard, it has something in common with this past year's Oscar winner, "Birdman".  I suspect, however, that people will continue to watch "All About Eve" long after they have stopped watching "Birdman".

As I said, there is lots and lots of terrific dialog in this movie, but its most famous line is this quote from Davis/Channing:

"All About Eve" is a movie you definitely want to see.

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