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Sunday, November 1, 2015

All About Eve (1950)

As a young actress (Anne Baxter) receives a coveted award, several people at the ceremony reflect on her rise to the top and the lives she damaged climbing the ladder of success: a playwright's wife (Celeste Holm), a theater critic (George Sanders) and the actress (Bette Davis) whose life and career she desired. There are some films that are so well written and acted that they hold up to multiple viewings without one ever tiring of them. This is one of them. Based on a short story by Mary Orr (loosely based on an incident in actress Elisabeth Bergner's life), this is probably the best film ever made about the "theater". Joseph L. Mankiewicz's screenplay drips with acid and wit. Its story may be slight but the joy is in the journey. It's only flaw is that Baxter's Eve is just a little too obvious that you wonder how so many could have been taken in so easily and Baxter, who's excellent, is not the force of nature that Davis (at her very best here) is so it's improbable that she could take her place. But that's all nitpicking. The pleasures of the film are so great that the quibbles don't damage the film at all. With Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Gregory Ratoff, Barbara Bates, Thelma Ritter and at the beginning of her career and already showing sign of the megaStar she would become, Marilyn Monroe.

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