After a thoroughly male-dominated ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘, I was keen to watch something about women.
‘All About Eve’ fit the bill perfectly. After all, it holds the record for the greatest number of female Oscar nominations.
Margo Channing: Funny business, a woman’s career – the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you’ll need them again when you get back to being a woman. That’s one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we’ve got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we’ve had or wanted. And in the last analysis, nothing’s any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed, and there he is. Without that, you’re not a woman. You’re something with a French provincial office or a book full of clippings, but you’re not a woman. Slow curtain, the end.
Unfortunately, while I may not have been looking for a documentary on PMS, but that’s exactly what I found.
Karen Richards: We know you, we’ve seen you before like this. Is it over – or just beginning?
Margo Channing: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!
The film opens in quite a unique way; narrated by a film critic. It’s a strange feeling, watching a movie with a film critic in your ear. I liked it – if nothing else, for its originality.
The film was original in many small ways like this. The self-referential humour borders dangerously on ‘Dawson’s Creek’ proportions, and speaks to a time long ago – before Hollywood became so precious it couldn’t stand the force of a Ricky Gervais joke at its expense.
Addison DeWitt: The distinguished looking gentleman is an extremely old actor. Being an actor – he will go on speaking for some time. It is not important that you hear what he says.
If, like me, you’re more familiar with the song ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ than the actress herself, you may be interested to learn that Bette Davis’ eyes are not particularly provocative. In fact, the woman had bugeyes that make her look perpetually half-drunk. For all we know, this was indeed the case for the duration of filming.
Margo Channing: [in front of her boyfriend, Bill] I love you, Max. I really mean it. I love you. Come to the pantry.
Wikipedia says the famous cartoon character ‘Jessica Rabbit’ was based on Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall and Rita Hayworth. I personally think she looks much more like Bette Davis.
The movie is so in tune with the ways of women that you might think it was in fact written by a woman… that is, until all the women start going crazy. I’d feign outrage at this except… well… it’s pretty accurate! So accurate, in fact, that the movie spawned a whole host of “life imitating art moment”.
Before I share them with you, I’d like to start with a hearty outburst of “CAT FIIIIGHT!”
We may now proceed.
Art: Eve Harrington lands her first big role after another actress falls pregnant.
Life: Anne Baxter (who played Eve Harrington) landed the role after Jeanne Crain (who was originally considered for the part) fell pregnant.
Art: Karen Richards undermines her friend Margo Channing in a bitchy act.
Life: Bette Davis said in an interview “Filming All About Eve was a very happy experience….the only bitch in the cast was Celeste Holm” (who plays Karen Richards).
Art: It is revealed that Eve Harrington changed her name to be an actor.
Life: Norma Jean Mortenson was told to change her name for acting. Better known as Marilyn Munroe she played the role of Miss Casswell in this film.
Art: Margo Channing gets into numerous overly dramatic arguments with her boyfriend.
Life: Bete Davis (who played Margo Channing) has a raspy voice in the film because she burst a blood vessel in her throat from screaming at her soon-to-be-ex-husband.
Art: Margo Channing becomes increasingly paranoid that Eve Harrington is going to try to steal her boyfriend, Bill Sampson.
Life: Zsa Zsa Gabor kept arriving on set because she was jealous of her husband, George Sanders’, scenes with Marilyn Munroe.
Art: Eve Harrington pips Margo Channing at the post for the Sarah Siddons Award.
Life: Anne Baxter (who played Eve) ruined Bette Davis (Margo)’s chances for an Oscar by insinuating herself into the ‘Best Actress’ category and splitting the vote.
Art: Margo Channing falls in love with Bill Sampson and eventually marries him.
Life: Bette Davis (Margo) fell in love with Gary Merrill (Bill) and eventually married him, adopting a daughter they named Margot.
Art: Eve Harrington steps into Margo Channing’s shoes to replace her in the play ‘Aged in Wood’.
Life: Anne Baxter (who played Eve) stepped into Bette Davis (who played Margo)’s shoes to replace her on the series Hotel after she fell ill.
There are lots of great moments in this film and the clever one-liners just keep on coming. It’s an easy watch and an enjoyable one at that.
Have you seen ‘All About Eve’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.