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I've seen Eve many, many times (in parts and in entirety) and the more i see it, the more problematic i find it.

 

My biggest issue (and the one that's led me to turn it off every single time it's been on for the last coupla' years) is that I have a very, very hard time believing that anyone (smart or dumb, cynical or genuine) in any profession (stage, movies or non-showbiz) would buy Anne Baxter's "Oh, I am not fit to eat the crumbs from thy table" act. She overdoes it, and more than just a leetle bit. Of course, it's Anne Baxter and she always overdoes everything, which is exactly why some people love her to death.

 

There's no conceivable reason why any of these showbiz phonies should not catch on within five minutes to the fact that everything Eve/Baxter is doling out is 100% bull**** . I do not buy one minute of it. We're supposed to believe Thelma Ritter is the only one of them who isn't a complete simp- and she's banished before the halfway mark of the film.

 

Really, what the hell happens to Birdie?

 

I also have to toss in that Mankiewicz's writing all too often has an Aaron-Sorkiny-sort-of "Golly Gee, aren't I just brilliant ? quality to it (the entireties of 1935's I Live My Life and 1954's The Barefoot Contessa and the Kirk Douglas section of 1949's A Letter to Three Wives come to mind as particularly potent examples of this. )

 

It is really worth checking out Tallulah "I shall tear every hair from her moustache" Bankhead's radio version of Eve which is available on youtube. It's better, funnier and mercifully shorter than the movie and I daresay (at possible risk to my safety) she's a better Margo than Bette!

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I find it interesting that people consider as far-fetched in movies that which happens not infrequently in real life. The thing about big egos is that they are vulnerable to flattery--after all, they are only hearing opinions that they consider natural for the entirety of humanity to have. And there is nothing shrinking about the egos of the people in this movie. In any case, what I like about the movie is the acting, the performances polished and refined to tolerances within one ten-thousanth of an inch.

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you make a very good point.

 

yet, i dunno, the last several attempts i have made to see Eve from the beginning have been aborted because I just don't buy it. And as far as acting goes: Sanders and Davis are terrific, Thelma Ritter is fine in a pretty lousy role, but I find Gary Merrill really, really bland and I'm of mixed opinion on Celeste Holme. And I still say I have major reservations about Baxter's entire performance- not just the "I'm so not worthy" act, but the wig-ripping, drag queen theatrics that eclipse everything in the final third of the movie- whether you like it or not, she shoves Bette off the screen entirely for the last 20 minutes and all Margo is left with is the one half-hearted zinger at the end.

 

really, everyone: GO TO YOUTUBE AND CHECK OUT THE RADIO VERSION THAT TALLULAH BANKHEAD DID OF "EVE." It's seeing the story in a whole new way.

 

 

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Eve makes so many top 100 lists, it's so universally accepted as a great great movie and I know many (including Robert Osborne) have claimed it is without flaws: I guess all that makes me really focus on what I see as very definite flaws in it.

 

Ritter's disappearance is a flaw. As is the eclipse of Bette/Margo in the third act. The really, really bad rear projection behind Sanders and Baxter at the end of the film is another (abeit minor) flaw, but it's not a very excitingly shot film. I don't care for Gary Merrill and Baxter takes it to an 11 when someone, somewhere should have reigned her in to an "8"

 

I also have issues with films where someone looks at an untrained understudy or a stenographer or someone's little sister, says "I'll make you a STAR!" and Poof! Next scene they're signing a three picture deal with Zanuck. That does not happen. It bugs me in The Hard Way it bugs me in Valley of the Dolls it bugs me in The Evening Star (1996). It bugs me in Eve . People with no theatrical training do not become understudies.

 

None of these flaws would bug me half so much if so many different critics and others didn't lay it on with a trowel and label Eve as "perfect." It's not.

 

 

 

 

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There are two things which are disagreeable to me when I encounter them. One is uncritical approval, the other is setting up straw men. All About Eve is a great film. That does not mean it has no flaws. Films can have flaws, even major ones, and still be great. On the other hand, the inappropriate claims of others should not be used to discredit a film, or affect one's appreciation of it. Neither should a film be criticized for not having what it should not have. This is a film about the interplay of people's personalities. The drama and energy is in the writing and performances. The direction need not, and should not be exciting, or draw attention to itself. Mankiewicz realized this and stayed out of the actors' way. This does not mean that the composition and camerawork are not well-crafted, even fine.

 

 

 

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*There's no conceivable reason why any of these showbiz phonies should not catch on within five minutes to the fact that everything Eve/Baxter is doling out is 100% bull**** . I do not buy one minute of it. We're supposed to believe Thelma Ritter is the only one of them who isn't a complete simp- and she's banished before the halfway mark of the film.*

 

*Really, what the hell happens to Birdie?*

 

You answered your question with this one: once the rest of the cast begin to see that Eve knows her apples, Birdie's character becomes extraneous (not that she isn't sorely missed).

 

 

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Arturo . . .

 

It's likely to feel that Margo and her entourage of friends couldn't under what we might concieve as reaility be so fooled or duped by Eve's character. Well, it's been no secret to the many fans of the film, that writer/director Joe Mankienwicz, based his script on a short story entitled, "The Wisdom of Eve." Well, the writer of the magazine tale, Mary Orr was a close friend of actress Elisabeth Bergner, who had confided to Orr of a situation concerning the actress having befriended a young fan. Later on, during the course of the friendship, the fan lived with actress Bergner, becoming her personal assistant, while all along the fan was simply exploiting Bergner's generosity to try and get into the motion picture business. Years later, Bergner made mention of her relationship to "All About Eve" from the basis of Orr's short story in her autobiography.

 

Even before the film was produced, there was a radio drama based on Orr's short story. Still, others say the script or Mankienwicz based the film version on an incident that occurred between Broadway star Tallulah Bankhead and actress Lizabeth Scott. Then, even more intriging is a tale that had a young Lauren Bacall, having snuck into the New York hotel room of none other than Bette Davis herself! The young Bacall wanted to meet and perhaps get acting advice from Bette. This situation is rather interesting for technical reasons that relate to the finale of the film. Certainly, Joe didn't just base the script on one single incident. While he would admit the main basis was Orr's story, he simply added other tidbits from his own experiences.

 

So, while you might feel this tale was bovine excrement, a good actress, espeically as was considered Eve, could have pulled off a deception of helplessness. It had to be somebody like her equal, the mighty sinister character of 'Addison DeWitt" to discover and know how to go about clearly seeking the truth, no matter how he went about towards its purpose. Margo and her gang were rather "self-absorbed" in enough aspects, brought about by the crazy atmosphere there is to show business. Eve, easily played upon a virtue she created that awoke a moral fabric missing from their lives. Let's face it, there are plently of people out there, rich or not so rich that can be swayed into believing somebody has a hardship or need to be helped in some form or fashion.

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{font:Verdana}The situation concerning the “screenplay” academy award for “All About Eve” can be considered confusing as well as unclear by today’s standards. Over the years, there’s been an assumption the movie won for “Best Adapted Screenplay” from another source. However, this wasn’t the actual case at the time of the Academy Awards. There were three categories that were designated by titles that no longer exist. The first was “Motion Picture Story” . . . This was geared towards a story exclusively written for motion pictures to be translated into a film; the winner was “Panic in The Streets.” The second screenplay category was simply “Screenplay” . . . This pretty much signified a (lone) script entirely written for a motion picture, regardless from what possible source the story came from; the winner was “All About Eve.” The third category was a combination of “Story and Screenplay” . . . Everything about this designation meant both the story and script were original and not connected to any other original source . . . The obvious and deserved winner here was “Sunset Boulevard.” In the years to follow, the screenplay category began to change towards its designation as did other categories such as cinematography, music scoring, art direction and the various technical awards.{font}

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Addison DeWitt is my favorite character in this as well. How he takes down Eve has a touch of true Karma to it. I mean, he isn't necessarily beloved by the Margo Channing crowd, but he actually sets in motion justice being played out.

 

That I should want you at all suddenly strikes me as the height of improbability. But that in itself is probably the reason: You're an improbable person, Eve, and so am I. We have that in common. Also our contempt for humanity and inability to love and be loved, insatiable ambition, and talent. We deserve each other.

-Addison DeWitt (George Sanders)

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Jun 26, 2011 11:11 PM

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Without question for me, the character of "Addison DeWitt" is the most dynamic and has the finest dialog of any role in the film. Of course, as the main narrator or presenter to the story, he is in so many ways, the guiding force of the scurrilous reality or underlying current to the phoniest that grips show business. It's as if, DeWitt is on the outskirts of understanding how in a technical way, there are two syndromes of temperament to dealing with the chances of seeking a career and reaching for success, if not, adulation. While the reality of one's ambitions might be forthwith towards achieving a goal, there's another that schemes without rules to get what you want and then face a deep and haunting consequence to forever have to deal with trying to define its purpose on a positive or even moral level. In other words, Eve will get what she wants, but she will carry with her a burden of sorts, on how her goal was acquired. DeWitt was right about one thing in the story, when he confronts Eve to say: "Don't mistake me for those band of juveniles" referring to Margo and her gang of weakminded trusting friends. Only "Bill" and "Birdie" can see beyond what "DeWitt always realizes and decides to crack Eve's deceiving shell. He is in a distorted way, the hero of the story, because it sometimes takes a "one in the same" person to reveal a deception.

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George Sanders is the classic, detached cynical columnist. Think Clifton Webb in Laura, and then Burt Lancaster took it to new levels with Sweet Smell of Success. He didn't even try to hide his intimidation and contempt under a sauve and polished exterior.

 

Back to All About Eve.. Addison's earlier scenes with MM look sorta tame, but we know what he was getting for all his "coaching" of Miss Caswell..

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Jun 27, 2011 5:46 PM

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(has anyone else been having a hell of a time logging on or getting this website to load lately?)

 

Anyhoo, I think George Sanders is one of those rare talents (think also Eve Arden or Sydney Greenstreet) who always seems to somewhow be playing themself (or some variation of) in films- due largely to their own presence, voice, and physicality. But their onscreen persona is so fabulous- it doesn't matter a bit in the end. (and it's likely that that persona was in itself a pretty elaborate acting job.)

 

 

Did anyone catch I Confess (1953) a few nights ago? It was amazing how effective and likeable Anne Baxter was when working with a director who could reign her in.

 

As far as flaws and their seriousness go, I can think of plenty of top-drawer films that have flaws. Sunset Boulevard for example: the Nancy Olson subplot is tedious (in no small part because of her bland presence) but the film holds up in spite of it. With Eve I think the flaws in regards to Baxter's character and her believabiilty are the cards that make the whole castle come tumbling down.

 

But that's just moi and I admit (as I have stated numerous times before) I am no fan of Mankiewicz. The only films of his I've seen that I care for are Five Fingers (which he didn't write) and Mrs. Muir . I am intrigued by the trainwreck that is Suddenly Last Summer but don't blame him entirely for its failure, although I do credit what little is good about it to the crackerjack performance given by Elizabeth Taylor.

 

I know this is gonna rankle some, but I Live My Life (1935) , The Barefoot Contessa and A Letter to Three Wives are three examples of films that I personally would show to aspiring screenwriters and say "this is someone who thinks they're a real hoot and it shows all over their work; it's forced, pretentious, and hasn't aged well at all; please don't ever do anything like this."

 

I'd take Nicholas Cage running in slo-mo from an exploding airplane any day over those three films.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Jun 29, 2011 12:39 PM

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> Sunset Boulevard for example: the Nancy Olson subplot is tedious (in no small part because of her bland presence) but the film holds up in spite of it. With Eve I think the flaws in regards to Baxter's character and her believabililty are the cards that make the whole castle come tumbling down.

The "Nancy Olson subplot," as you put it, is neither tedious nor superfluous. In what can only be described as a Faustian bargain, Joe Gillis, has been sucked into making his pact with the figurative devil that's Norma Desmond and her limitless ability to provide him with a level of material comfort that he'd never be able to earn on his own (being sucked in, Joe becomes less and less able to discern that his scheme to manipulate Norma by editing her unfilmable Salome screenplay has been turned around one-hundred-and-eight degrees by Norma, who's now manipulating him into becomeing her kept man; only when the slavishly devoted Max tells Joe that he was Norma's first husband does Joe begin to awaken to his situation).

 

Through the developing relationship between Joe and Betty Schaefer -- first writing their spec script, Dark Windows, then the romance that compels Betty to declare that she's going to end her engagement to fiance Artie Green -- Joe sees what his life might have been had it not taken a detour that was the result of, and analogy to, the turn his car, with its blown-out tire, made into Norma's hidden Beverly Hills driveway to escape the clutches of the Repo Men. It finally fills Joe with the degree of self-loathing he needs to walk out on Norma who, having finally gone 'round the bend ("Nobody walks out...on a star!), pumps a cylinderful of bullets into him to guarantee that he'll never be in the arms of Betty, or any other woman.

 

Betty is, in short, the very normalcy at the opposite end of the spectrum on which Joe finds himself that any story requires to establish the parameters of the character's world. More than that, she provides essential contrast to Norma. She is, almost literally, the angel on Joe's shoulder, whispering in his ear as counterweight to Norma's devil. Drama is established by context -- spatial, chronological and emotional; without it characters and situations are adrift, and audiences are unable to fully grasp the storytellers' intent.

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Ees fonny how sometimes people can sieze on to what was an aside, a B-thought if you will, in a rather meandering, dead-horse-flogging post. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

 

THE NANCY OLSON (SIC?) SUBPLOT* IN SUNSET BLVD.

(*I am open to new names for it)

 

It'd not so much its inclusion (although, yeah, I could do without it) as it is (clutch pearls here) the mechanics of it. I feel like it's something that got tacked on near the end, or was thought-up after the main Norma/Joe/Max, even Sheldrake, characters were in the mix. It's skippable- and I always do. Maybe it's in large part due to the fact that the A-Story is so ace, but (sorry) I find Nancy Olson (again, sic?) to be less-than-compelling as an actress and not terribly unique or memorable (just the idea on Wilder's part, I 'spose- but I don't think it does anyone any good.) So whereas some may see the angel Marguerite in Betty- I just see her as less compelling, less inn-teresting, less...well, just less everything than the whole rest of the picture- which nonetheless merits four stars out of four as do numerous other Wilder joints.

 

It's funny that someone took it to Faust. The Band Wagon was on recently. I seem to recall that analogy didn't do that (fictional) company any favors either.

 

And let the record show: number of Oscar nominations earned by Nancy Olson (sic?): 1

Number earned by JonnyGeetar: 0

 

I did win a pie-eating contest recently, it was the first year we were allowed to use utensils.

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*I disagree about the Nancy Olson subplot. It, or something like it, was needed to maintain a contact for Gillis with the outside world. Without it, the film would have been strident, "one-noted", and limited.*

I agree that the "nancy olson subplot" is necessary; however, the problem for me also is Nancy Olson. I too find her bland, and feel that this storyline would have worked better with another actress. Interestingly, Paramount (and others) saw Olson and Holden as a viable team, and costarred them a few times.
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>...the problem for me also is Nancy Olson. I too find her bland..."

 

That's precisely the point: her well-scrubbed, corn-fed ordinariness is a deliberate and essential contrast to Norma's exoticism. She reminds Joe that he's exactly the same sort of Midwestern white bread who's forgotten his roots. If Betty were a glamorous Hollywood siren Joe would've jumped ship in moments and abandoned the comforts provided by Norma (remember, there's no getting away from the all-too-obvious fact that Joe's played by one of the handsomest men in Hollywood -- Brackett and Wilder couldn't cast around that. Even a struggling writer will pick up all the eye-candy he wants if he looks like William Holden. Betty's charms are more subtle, an outward sign that the romance that develops between her and Joe is clearly deeper than Joe's usual liasons).

 

And Jonny, why do you keep writing (sic) after Olson? That's how the woman's name is spelled. Her name isn't Olsen.

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YOU WROTE: And Jonny, why do you keep writing (sic) after Olson? That's how the woman's name is spelled. Her name isn't Olsen.

 

Well you're the one who's such a stickler about people making mistakes, spelling and otherwise. Can't remember if it's "Olson" or "Olsen": sue me.

 

It occurred to me today: _JEAN HAGEN_ would have made that part work. I have the feeling that Paramount insisted on using Olson/Olsen, who whether or not she's bland on purpose, is just too bland in the end.

 

I've seen the other film Olson/Olsen made with Holden the same year and it is snoozeville to the nth degree.

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Technically speaking, Nancy Olson didn't exactly have to screen test or audition for the role of "Betty" in "Sunset Boulevard." She was a Paramount Pictures contract player. At the time, the studio was grooming her as the "girl-next-door" type. Certainly, her wholesome good looks and girlish innocence seemed appealing enough for Billy Wilder to consider her being cast in "Sunset Boulevard" that remarkably was only her second film. Olson had little, if any, professional acting experience. She had been studying at UCLA, when a Paramount talent scout discovered her. Olson has been from an historical standpoint, compared to actress Jean Peters, who like Olson, came to films at around the same period of time and ended up with a limited or short lived, sort of major motion picture acting career. What probably sidetracked Olson's chances towards solid stardom was her marriage to the celebrated, American musical composer, Alan Jay Lerner. I thought it was rather amusing, if not, sentimental that Olson made an uncredited appearance in the Disney 1997 remake "Fubber." After all, Olson had been in the beloved original 1961 film version, "The Absent-Minded Professor." While probably somewhat retired, she still continues to make an occasional appearance, such as in the recent HBO dramatic series "Big Love." Whichever way you want to look at her career, she is considered an important source of information on "Old Hollywood" and everything that went with the studio system.

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