Monday, 28 December 2015

All About Eve (1950)

As an inclusion in a Marilyn Monroe Collection, this film is something of a ringer.  Monroe appears in only two scenes, totalling perhaps five minutes of screen time in a more-than-two-hour film.  She's fun in the role she has, but it's not a big one.

But if you're going to have a ring-in film, then I guess one which won the Best Picture Oscar and had no fewer than four female cast members nominated as well (two for Best Female Lead, two for Best Supporting Female) is not a bad one to choose.

The film concerns renowned stage actress Margo Channing - who at forty years of age is painfully aware that she is much older than the roles she is generally called on to play - and her circle of friends.  One night this circle is enlarged by the introduction of Eve Harrington, an ingenue from the mid-west who is Margo's most devoted fan.

Eve soon makes herself indispensable to Margo, attending to all the needs of the actress's household.  But is she really as innocent and wholesome as she appears?

Well frankly there wouldn't be much of a movie if she was, so consider that a rhetorical question.

I do have some issues with the script.  Setting aside that it displays the lamentable attitudes you'd expect of a 65-year old film, both in the things it says about women and its complete lack of non-white characters, there are some plot points that require some fairly strong suspenders for your disbelief.  It also doesn't quite stick the ending, to my mind.  It's not without merit though: there's some very snappy dialogue throughout.

Where All About Eve uniformly shines in its performances.  The womens' Academy Award nominations are I think all richly deserved, though I'd especially call out Bette Davis for her performance as the proud, headstrong, but vulnerable Margo.  She has the benefit of the meatiest role, but she makes the most of it.  If you have an appreciation for fine acting, it's worth seeking out just for that.

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