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All About Eve
USA 1950
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Running time 138 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
5 stars


Written and directed by Mankiewicz this satire on the world of theatre is a justified classic. Bette Davis, who at the last minute replaced and injured Claudette Colbert in the lead, is wonderful as Margo Channing, a fading stage star whilst Anne Baxter delivers an equally impressive, if more subdued, performance as Eve Harrington, an ambitious ingenue who wheedles herself into the older woman's favour.

Brilliantly handled by Mankiewicz, the film picked up best film/director and best screenplay Oscars (Mankiewicz had also won best director and best screenplay the previous year for the less memorable A Letter To Three Wives), whilst a meticulously urbane and sardonic George Sanders won Best Supporting Actor and Marilyn Monroe makes her first significant screen appearance playing the breathy bimbo that became her signature persona.

Life imitates art? Perhaps so. Not long after the completion of shooting Davis married Gary Merrill who played her boyfriend/husband in the film whilst Anne Baxter's lobbying to have herself nominated for the Best Actress, rather than Best Supporting Actress is generally regarded as having prevented Davis from winning it. The film's record 14 Oscar nominations was unbeaten until tied by James Cameron's Titanic.

FYI: Film buffs will want to compare this to another 1950 film on fading stars, Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, whose star Gloria Swanson was up against Davis for the Oscar. In the end it went to newcomer, Judy Holliday, for role in Born Yesterday. 

 

 

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