The first thing that strikes you in All about Eve are the similarities to another black and white classic, Sunset Boulevard. Like Boulevard, there’s a star who can’t let go of her stardom; a less extravagant and much more realistic star, but a personality with her fair share of tantrums. Also, like Billy Wilder‘s film, Joseph L. Mankiewicz‘s All About Eve begins with a voice-over. The difference, his character is still breathing.
Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1950s film shows the world of New York theater in all of its glory. The A-list clubs, and the night long parties; replete with characters like the Russian-accented producer, Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff) and the starlet Miss Casswell (Marilyn Monroe) – who wants to make it big – dangling from the arm of an industry insider journo, Addison DeWitt (George Sanders). DeWitt is the perfect nosy journalist. The story begins as he recounts the rise of Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a mousy fan who deceives the great theater personality Ms. Channing. She gains her trust and slowly gains access to her inner circle before turning into her understudy and later her rival.
Bette Davis as Margo Channing delivers what is considered to be one of her best performances. As the eccentric and pique-ish Margo, she is what every star is, as they age – full of outbursts and paranoia. Her performance is stunning and the transition from a star to an ordinary person is both believable and realistic. Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe) the talented playwright, Karen Richards (Celeste Holm) the supportive friend, and Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill) her companion and play director, form Margo’s inner circle. They deliver good performances. What touches is their loyalty to their friend and their naivety. Eve Harrington dupes everyone with her act and gains access to her dreams, her dreams of making it big. Anne Baxter is superlative as the girl who is willing to do everything and knows how to. She tricks people into believing her but at last meets her match in the ruthless journalist who eventually sees through her facade and calls her bluff.
Although Sunset Boulevard is considered a better film, All About Eve does an equally brilliant job. It is a must watch, a great way to know that people have different shades and not all is revealed in the first meeting.