Eve (Anne Baxter) is waiting backstage to meet her idol, aging Broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis). It seems innocent enough as Eve explains that she has seen Margo in EVERY performance of her current play. Only playwright/critic DeWitt (George Sanders) sees through Eve’s evil plan, which is to take her parts and her fiancé, Bill Simpson (Gary Merrill).
When the fiancé shows no interest, she tries for playwright Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), but DeWitt stops her. After she accepts her award, she decides to skip the after-party and goes to her room, where a young woman named Phoebe has sneaked into her room and fallen asleep. This is where the “Circle of Life” now comes to fruition as Eve will get played like she played Margo.
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Movie Reviews: “All About Eve”
Movie Review: NEW YORKER
All About Eve” is an account of how a young actress progresses from obscurity to fame. In this it is similar to a good many films that have gone before it, but Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who wrote and directed the picture, has been so ingenious in his treatment of the subject that he has come up with a thoroughly entertaining movie. In place of the usual heroine of this kind of thing—a bright-eyed girl who doesn’t doff her Mary Jane pumps until she’s called upon to take over from somebody like Helen Hayes on Broadway—Mr.
Mankiewicz has substituted an alarming little schemer, willing to indulge in anything from adultery to blackmail to realize her theatrical ambitions, and in following her about he discovers an amusing bunch of people, all of them witty, if not overly wise. As the Eve of this enterprise, Anne Baxter is always interesting to watch, even when her claws are showing a trifle too obviously.
Among those, she scratches up most furiously is a playwright’s wife of infinite patience, and an actress so unstable that her own true love describes her as more than slightly paranoiac. As the wife, Celeste Holm moves ingratiatingly through a role that isn’t very taxing; as the actress, Bette Davis finally has a part that permits her to demonstrate, in her high-voltage style, that when her talents are applied to something worthwhile she can really bring a great deal of authority to bear.
Purportedly a woman of forty in love with a younger man, Miss Davis, often in unflattering makeup, jumps from comedy to pathos to hysteria with utter confidence, and she winds up by transforming a most difficult character into a lady who, however shrilly emotional, commands the sympathy of one and all.
Movie Review: DAILY NEWS
“All About Eve” is not only a brilliant and clever portrait of an actress, but it is also a downright funny film, from its opening scene to the final fadeout.
The 20th Century-Fox production, with Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm and George Sanders in the leading roles, is being shown only four times, daily at the Roxy Theater. As patrons will not be seated during the running of the film, it behooves them to consult the time table for the Roxy to be sure they get into the theatre at the beginning of the picture, or during the stage show. This system is being tried by management as an experiment.
“All About Eve” will be a smash hit, as everyone concerned in the making of the picture has put his and her best efforts into it, with the result, that it is one of the outstanding screen entertainments of the year.
Movie Review: James Wegg Review
In All About Eve, the ego-driven world of “the theatre” is put under writer-director Joseph Mankiewicz’s witty, beautifully balanced microscope and provides a vehicle for the ensemble cast to shine, bicker, deceive, laugh, cry and marry at will.
The storytelling techniques are worthy of an Oscar on their own. Having several of the principals variously provide narration adds a welcome variety of tone and points of view. Letting cinematographer Milton Krasner’s all-seeing lens linger on the faces of the cast—either solo or memorable in a group during the oh-so-revealing staircase scene—allows these masters of subtle visage to underscore the drama with looks that most certainly could kill.
Alfred Newman’s symphonic score provides the requisite broad scope suitable for Broadway’s larger-than-life atmosphere both on and off the stage. Better still, the discreet employment of well-known favourites (Liszt’s “Liebestraum No. 3” as piano solo providing a wonderfully somber backdrop as too many martinis loosen lips—its instrumental encore much later on the radio is a musical payoff that few filmmakers ever utilize, much less pull off so discreetly; “Stormy Weather” is also slipped in just as the verbal fisticuffs seem to be subsiding.