Sunday, May 9, 2010
Bette is wickedly good in All About Eve (1950)
All About Eve is my favorite Bette Davis film. She owns the screen as Margo Channing, a legendary Broadway star whose career is winding down who takes on actress Eve Harrington (a super Anne Baxter) as her understudy. But Eve has ulterior motives and she wants to be the star and will do anything to achieve that goal. The supporting cast includes Celeste Holm as Karen Richards, Margo's best friend; Thelma Ritter as Birdie, Margo's right hand woman; Gary Merrill as Bill, Margo's lover; Hugh Marlowe as Llyod, the playwright; and George Sanders as Addison DeWitt, the columnist who learns of Eve's true intentions and decides to play along. Also look for a young Marilyn Monroe in a small part as Addison's date.
The performances are all great, especially Davis and Baxter. Davis prowls the screen like a leopard looking for a kill. She attacks her dialogue with reverence and gives one of her best performances ever. She manages to fire off lines like she is firing a machine gun. Baxter by contrast is more subdued, especially in the earlier scenes, but once her devious plans come out, she lets out a beast of a performance that has her holding her own against Bette. Sanders is pretty good too as Addison, as every word he says just drips with sarcasm and venom. Thelma Ritter, the legendary scene stealer does it again with a marvelous performance as Birdie.
All About Eve is one of my all time favorite films and ranks high on my list. It's a must see. And it's one of those classics that they don't make them like they used to.
Birdie: What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end.