Mr. DeWitt may be a bit conceded, but with that ego comes the ability to see one’s true motives. In All About Eve, we first meet our characters as Eve becomes the youngest person to receive a prestigious award. We would assume everyone to be proud of this girl who is finally being recognized. but we are transported back to see the story of how this young girl has climbed so high so quickly, and all the people she’s stepped on along the way.
Eve (Anne Baxter) is first discovered in the rain waiting for ageing actress Margo (Bette Davis) to leave the theater by Karen (Celeste Holm), wife of prestigious play-write Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe). Karen takes pity on the star-struck girl and brings her to meet her idol. Margo doesn’t seem likely to warm up to the girl until Eve tells her sob story that has lead her to have nothing to look forward to but the theater and seeing Margo perform. Moved, Margo takes Eve in and she becomes a helpful assistant. However, Eve starts overstepping boundaries and gets a taste of the spotlight. Soon, Margo realizes this ambitious young Eve is using her and her friends to break into theater and become a star.
Lets go back to George Sanders’s Addison DeWitt, an Oscar winning role and hinge to the plot. He’s our main narrator with flawlessly eloquent speech and dress to match. While all of Eve’s new acquaintances believe her naive starstruck girl act, only Addison sees through the mask. Instead of stopping her, he takes the opportunity to write about the budding new star and spreading the word to further her success. He may be feeding the monster, but when he realizes the reach of her claws he cuts back and knows she really can’t go much higher without him. She will one day have to take what she has dished out.
This may the greatest role Bette Davis ever played. Being an aging star slowly conned by a young rival may have been a realistic role for the then just over forty actress. She plays the role with such an honest gusto and presence proving that her personality can propel her further than Eve’s simple youth and beauty. Compared to Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond, a similar role in Sunset Boulevard, Margo will be alright and still has friends if Eve takes all her stage presence, which is a much happier end that Eve or Norma are likely to find at their going rate.
While All About Eve won for Best Picture, I don’t believe most viewers today would agree. It’s a fine film with wonderful acting, no doubt, but I feel like the story has been parodied and told so much that today’s viewer isn’t as likely to receive it’s full effect. But if you enjoy films about treacherous women, fearfully aging stars or enjoy any of the actors, this is a must see.
“The cynicism you refer to, I acquired the day I discovered I was different from little boys!”