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Sunday, June 15, 2008

All About Eve (1950)

Bette Davis was a major Hollywood star, however, by 1950, her career was faltering. Her previous film, "Beyond the Forest" was not exactly a thumping movie. And then came this movie, released in 1950. It was hailed as the greatest role of Bette Davis career, and many call 'All About Eve' as one of the great movies of the 20th century. Its profile of a younger Broadway actress whose desire is to supplant the current queen (aging, but still the queen) of the industry has been splendidly made; and makes this an engrossing movie to watch. The movie had an incredible run at the Academy Awards, being nominated for a record 14 Oscars, and going onto win 6 of them. The movie was written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on a short story by Mary Orr called 'The Wisdom of Eve'.

All About Eve (1950)

The movie and script have some basis in reality (and this is not that difficult, given that a lot of people would have had occasion to encourage somebody, only to find that the person whom you have helped could eventually upstage you). In real life, the author Mary Orr was told a story in which an actress did encourage a fan, but eventually found that the fan was trying to take away her roles. Mary Orr used this story, made the character more ruthless, and then wrote the story which in turn impressed the director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. By this time, Bette Davis had ended a long contract with Warner Brothers (not being impressed by many of the recent movies that had done no good to her reputation). She was impressed by the script of the movie. Coincidentally, the later superstar, Marilyn Monroe also had a small scene in the movie.
The movie is about this superstar of Broadway, Margo Channing (Bette Davis), who is starting to show her age. She encounters a young fan, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter); Eve impresses Margo by claiming to be a big fan and an aspiring actress from San Francisco. So far so good. However, as the movie progresses, you realize that Eve is actually pretty ruthless and calculating; her aim is to take the position currently enjoyed by Margo, and even break Margo's bonds with her director boyfriend (Gary Merrill), and with her friends, her playwright (Hugh Marlowe) and his wife (Celeste Holm). Towards this end, she attempts to take over the roles that Margo is doing (even though it seems that Margo is not doing those roles). However, the end is ironical when Eve meets a young fan (does the same cycle start again ?)

Academy Awards for which the movie was nominated and won:

* Best Picture - 20th Century-Fox (Darryl F. Zanuck, producer)
* Best Supporting Actor - George Sanders
* Best Costume Design for a Black-and-White film - Edith Head and Charles Le Maire
* Best Director - Joseph L. Mankiewicz
* Best Writing, Screenplay - Joseph L. Mankiewicz
* Best Sound Recording - Thomas T. Moulton
* Nominated: Best Leading Actress - Anne Baxter
* Nominated: Best Leading Actress - Bette Davis
* Nominated: Best Supporting Actress - Celeste Holm
* Nominated: Best Supporting Actress - Thelma Ritter
* Nominated: Best Set Direction for a Black-and-White film - George W. Davis, Thomas Little, Walter M. Scott, and Lyle R. Wheeler
* Nominated: Best Cinematography for a Black-and-White film - Milton R. Krassner
* Nominated: Best Film Editing - Barbara McLean
* Nominated: Best Music Score - Alfred Newman

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