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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

All About Eve

Devious & Scandalous

All About Eve is my favorite classic Hollywood film. Every time I get ready to rewatch it, I excitedly look forward to getting myself wrapped up into the devious and scandalous story I know I’m about to see.

In 1950’s Manhattan, Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is one of the biggest stars on Broadway. Having just turned forty, she is worried about what her age will mean for her career. After a performance of Margo’s latest play, her best friend Karen Richards (Celeste Holm) brings a young fan, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) backstage to meet Margo. Eve tells Margo that she followed Margo’s theater tour to New York after seeing her perform in San Francisco. She tells Margo and Karen about growing up poor in Wisconsin and losing her husband in World War Two.

Deeply moved, Margo befriends Eve, welcomes her into her home and hires her as her assistant. Things start out great until Eve’s manipulative nature starts to show. It’s clear she has a hidden agenda and the final straw comes when she becomes Margo’s understudy without her knowledge. The drama continues to unfold spiraling everything out of control resulting in more lies and betrayals.

Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were both nominated for Oscars in the same category for their performances. I first saw All About Eve years ago and to this day still can’t conclude which of them should have won over the other. Anne Baxter’s performance of Eve is like a large buffet of multiple kinds of food in front of a starving individual. Some of the foods are sincere and healthy while others are unhealthy and destructive. Eve’s fixation on Margo comes from her overall fixation on theater and fame altogether. Becoming famous is Eve’s overall goal and she sees Margo as her ticket to get there.

The sad thing about Eve’s deception is that she’s actually very talented. She could achieve fame all on her own if she tried hard enough. She’s young, beautiful, a very good actor and very social. She could still have gotten to where she wanted to if she had been honest. The spider web Eve weaves only grows bigger and sometimes, the webs we weave are the ones we trap ourselves within.

Bette Davis gives the best performance of her career as Margo Channing. Margo is someone most professional female actors can relate to. The ageism she fears disrupts the confidence inside her she’s always used in her work. Yet, there’s so much more to her than her career. Society won’t allow her to find a balance without losing everything. On top of all her personal problems, she now has to deal with Eve’s true nature.

It’s always upsetting to find out people aren’t always who we thought they were. This happens to the best of us but it’s still a very hard thing to go through. It’s a kind of loss, the loss of someone that never really existed. When you lose someone you care about, you can hang on to the memories. Margo can’t do this because none of them were real. Each betrayal contributes to the mounting extent of her rage and she looks to Karen for emotional shelter.

Celeste Holm as Karen who’s Margo’s best friend is delightful, adorable and sometimes funny in her performance. Karen is all about enjoying her lavish lifestyle but she’s not a diva. She simply enjoys the perks of knowing too many people and having healthy financial anatomy. Karen really likes Eve when they first meet. In Eve, she sees someone with a warm heart and a lot to offer. When Eve’s selfishness reaches the point of no return, the look in Karen’s eyes says everything. She knows that Manhattan is full of greedy users like Eve but she never expected Eve to be one of them. She also knows Margo is going through a very hard time in her particular stage in her career and she seems to feel very guilty for bringing Eve into Margo’s world. Through Karen, Eve found herself a new kingdom and has crowned herself queen.

George Sander’s Oscar-winning performance as theater critic Addison DeWitt is a very important one because he’s very complacent in Eve’s rise to stardom. He sees destruction as a game and once he sees what Eve is capable of, he sits back and watches everything burn all around him. He’s very well regarded in the theater world and he makes sure Eve knows whose in charge. He needs her to know that if she does not abide by his terms, he can destroy her.

Vanity is an important part of being shady. Eve uses her beauty to lear people she can use in her direction. Addison is very charming and uses his high position to rope Eve into his world. Most of Eve’s betrayals are made on her own but Addison is responsible for throwing in a trick or two. Eve may have caused the big fire but Addison lit the match.

Overall, All About Eve is a timeless classic that continues to remain relevant in modern society and remains an important contribution to the history of Cinema. Regardless if you’ve seen it or not, All About Eve is a film designed to be rewatched. The first time is always special so if you haven’t seen it, you go right on ahead. You’re in for a real treat.

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