Our occasional deep dive into the classic Hollywood era continues with a Bette Davis classic. Released the same year as Sunset Blvd (1950), All About Eve ultimately prevailed at the Oscars with a record-breaking 14 nominations and 6 wins – including Best Picture and Best Director.
Davis famously did not win, she and Gloria Swanson both lost to Judy Holliday’s comic turn in Born Yesterday. All About Eve remains one of her definitive film roles though, as mercurial stage actress Margot Channing she delivers one of the richest and most quotable performances of her career.
The Eve of the movie is Eve Harrington, played by Anne Baxter as a seemingly sweet-natured fangirl with a tragic backstory, who swiftly reveals a ruthless ambition to steal Margot’s place as the queen of the New York theatre scene. The supporting ensemble include Margot’s younger boyfriend Bill (Gary Merill), her good-natured but meddlesome best friend Karen (Celeste Holm) and waspish theatre critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders – the only performer to receive an Oscar for his work in the movie).
There’s also a small, memorable appearance by a pre-fame Marilyn Monroe as a dubiously talented young starlet named Ms Caswell. She was reportedly paralysed with intimidation at working alongside Bette Davis, but her iconic comic talents are on full display in the couple of scenes the stars share.
All About Eve is very much a movie of the theatre, and the script and performances reflect that. On this week’s episode, Harry struggles with his natural aversion to this type of thing – even while watching one of the greatest films of all time and I do my best to change his mind.
We also brainstorm some drinking games (smoking!), check in with our listeners and pitch some sequel ideas to bring the story of Margot and Eve back to the big screen.
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Next week, we’re leaping forward 55 years to a modern star pairing that became a massive pop cultural moment. Until then, happy listening and strap yourselves in… it’s going to be a bumpy podcast!