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).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.”