Classic Cinema

“All About Eve”

Raw, ruthless ambition and good, old fashioned karma are front and center in the great film All About Eve (20th Century Fox, 1950) which was shown this week on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

(© 20th Century Fox)

Bette Davis plays Margot Channing, a 40-plus-year-old Broadway star at the top of her game but also a woman fully aware that she’s not getting any younger (and she has the insecurities to prove it). When the young and seemingly naive Eve Harrington (marvelously played by Anne Bancroft) enters into her life, Margo decides to help Eve by letting her be her understudy. But Eve has other nefarious things on her mind, namely taking Margo’s role from her, along with her boyfriend and her friends.

I was taken with the film’s theme of ambition. Eve is so ruthlessly ambitious–she doesn’t care at all about who she hurts and what she damages along her path. Yet, ultimately the law of the harvest kicks in (i.e., you reap what you sow), which provides extra satisfaction in watching the film unfold.

The film’s wonderful actors, including Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, George Sanders, and even Marilyn Monroe in a supporting role, really shine with their fine delivery of the screenplay’s witty, biting dialogue. And Bette Davis is a tour de force in one of her best roles.

Written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve took home the Academy Award for Best Picture that year, and deservedly so.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Guilty Pleasures Film Festival 2013

“Now, Voyager”

Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in "Now Voyager" (Warner Bros., 1942)

Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in “Now Voyager” (Warner Bros., 1942)

A personal favorite is Warner Bros.’ 1942 melodrama “Now, Voyager.” The film’s title comes from the Walt Whitman poem “The Untold Want”:

The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.

The main voyager in the film is Charlotte Vale (played by Bette Davis in one of her best roles), a repressed spinster who is struggling under the tyrannical rule of a cruel and overbearing mother. After a nice relative gets Charlotte some psychiatric help from the kind and wise Dr. Jaquith (played by Claude Rains), she goes on a South American cruise and meets and falls in love with Jerry (played by Paul Henreid), who is struggling with some big issues of his own. While the plot is a bit soap opera-ish, Charlotte’s transformation, how she deals with her newfound independence, and how she ultimately shows her love for Jerry make this a really wonderful film. Written by Casey Robinson. Based on the novel by Olive Higgins Prouty. Directed by Irving Rapper. “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”