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Laramie Movie Scope:
All About Eve

An aspiring actress is willing to do anything
to become famous on the stage

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by Patrick Ivers, Film Critic
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(1950; b/w) Award-winning movie - receiving 14 nomination from "that, uh, film society" - for best picture, supporting actor (George Sanders), writer and director (Joseph Mankiewicz), sound recording, and costume design from 20th Century Fox about legitimate theatre people who disparage the motion-picture industry.

Theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) narrates the opening scene where Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) is to receive the Sarah Siddons Society's Award for Distinguished Achievement on the stage for which she has had "one wish, one prayer, one dream." Addison asks us: "What can there be to know that you don't know" about Eve?

The first door opens into a star's dressing room. Karen Richards (Celeste Holm), wife of playwright Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), introduces a young waif to her idol Margo Channing (Bette Davis), a great actress at the peak of her career (40 years of age) who over-performs off stage. Eve tells the assembly at their urging of her recent past: secretary in a brewery in Wisconsin, married a man who was killed as a pilot in WWII, began watching Miss Channing in plays in San Francisco where she had expected to meet her husband on his way back from the war's Pacific Theater but not yet knowing his fate, finally following Miss Channing to New York City and attending every one of her performances.

Worshipful Eve, so humble and eager to please, unpretentious and direct in her innocence, insinuates herself into Margo's life, eventually becoming Miss Channing's understudy (the result of Karen's second favor) and rival for Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill), her long-time director and eight-years-younger inamorato. While Bill is away directing a movie in Hollywood (inside joke - the fictional film's producer Darryl Zanuck was this movie's producer), Eve coordinates for him a birthday party upon his return, making it all appear to be Margo's doing.

Gradually we begin to see Eve for what she is with her false humility, her conniving cleverness, her overweening ambition, wanting more than anything else in the world to become a famous actress: Miss Evil. Karen's third favor puts Eve into Margo's role on the stage (in which she gives a performance full of "music and fire"), and it comes back to haunt her as blackmail. Of her "paranoid tantrums" Margo says, "This job's cured my paranoia - now I know people are out to get me." The dialogue is deliciously smart, amusing, sharp, revelatory, pugnacious. Among the many bon mots, are these:

Bill Sampson: Wherever there's magic and make-believe and an audience, there's theatre.
Eve Harrington: So little. So little, did you say? Why, if there's nothing else - there's applause. It's like - like waves of love coming over the footlights and wrapping you up. Imagine... To know, every night, that different hundreds of people love you... they smile, their eyes shine - you've pleased them, they want you, you belong. Just that alone is worth anything...
Margo Channing: As it happens, there are particular aspects of my life to which I would like to maintain sole and exclusive rights and privileges.
Bill Sampson: For instance what?
Margo Channing: For instance: you!
Bill Sampson: We have to go to City Hall for the marriage license and blood test.
Margo Channing: I'd marry you if it turned out you had no blood at all.
Addison DeWitt: While you wait you can read my column. It'll make minutes fly like hours.
Lloyd Richards: There comes a time that a piano realizes that it has not written a concerto.
Margo Channing: And you, I take it, are the Paderewski who plays his concerto on me, the piano?
Margo Channing: Heartburn? It's that Miss Caswell. I don't see why she hasn't given Addison heartburn.
Bill Sampson: No heart to burn!
Margo Channing: Everybody has a heart - except some people.
Addison DeWitt: Miss Casswell is an actress, a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art.

For additional quotes from the movie go to the All About Eve quotes page at the Internet Movie Database.

Claudia Casswell (24-year-old Marilyn Monroe) is an ingénue, a stage fledgling, a physical fascination with a singular talent, when mute and immobile, a model for male fantasies, doomed to intimate, individual one-night performances with old birds in exchange for their escorting her to theatrical parties and obtaining audition favors. I will gladly watch this again.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2007 Patrick Ivers. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Patrick Ivers can be reached via e-mail at nora's email address at juno. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)