Saturday, May 01, 2010

All About Eve

I finally caught up with "All About Eve." TCM ran it on a night when I just wanted to zone out and it was Eve or several mindless action flicks. I enjoyed it but the central premise--that here was this seeming innocent young woman whom nobody but Eve (at first) recognized as a scheming little bitch--wore thin fast. Anybody who has any talent for spotting psychos would have picked Eve Harrington off in twenty minutes. She put the unc in unctuous.

I have to say that two of Hollywood's most boring actors, Gary Merrill and Hugh Marlowe, had way too much screen time for me. Solid 10s on the snore-o-meter. George Sanders was more sinister than usual and great as always. Old pro Celeste Holmes was on the money as always. But the picture belongs to Bette Davis, of course, who chewed the scenery as if she hadn't eaten in a year. Wow. She started at over the top and worked up from there. But she was damned good. As for Anne Baxter as Eve...I never understood Baxter's popularity. There's no cunning her in her performances. She seems happy with doing all the obvious things a part requires. She's pretty bland here.

For some reason the movie reminded me a lot of the novels Hugh (who did the books for "A Little Night Music" and Sweeny Todd") Wheeler wrote as Patrick Quentin. That kind of B'way bitchiness. You know, the penthouse and the glib glittering guests and then somebody's murdered and so we've got a mystery novel on our hands? One of those deals? (Personally I would've opted for a suicide pact between Gary Merrill and Hugh Marlowe).

I liked it but it was like one of those blind dates where both parties know fifteen minutes in that they'll never see each other again.

By coincidence the next day Vanity Fair ran a great piece on Claudette Colbert. Eve was written for her but because she was sick for quite awhile the producers gave up and turned to Davis. Here's a bit of the article:

"In 1982, at the American Film Institute’s tribute to Frank Capra in L.A. (Colbert and he had finally reconciled), the actress was waiting for an elevator when Bette Davis suddenly stung her with the barbed remark “I got even, didn’t I?” Colbert recalled to Reed, “She never recovered from the fact that in 1934, when she was up for Of Human Bondage, I won the Oscar for It Happened One Night. Then, years later, she got the role of Margo Channing, which would have been one of the plum roles of my career. She had been sitting on this thing for 50 years and I had forgotten all about it! Oh well, as I have always said, the best roles were bitches, and she proved it.”"


Laurie Powers said...

Ouch. Those Hollywood rivalries were legendary. I've always loved this movie, but I know what you mean about the character of Eve. Anyone would have sniffed her out in a minute. But there are some great moments and quotes. I love it when Eve flings open the door and tells George Sanders to "get out!" and he says "you're much too short for that line."

pattinase (abbott) said...

Never much of a Bette Davis fan--she always seemed nasty to me--even when she wasn't playing it.

Ed Gorman said...

Well, Patti, my friend, this performance is no-holds-barred even though she's the supposed victim.

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

I never saw the deep allure of this movie, either. It all rang false to me.