Alles über Eva (1950)

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Alles über Eva: Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. With Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm. A seemingly timid but secretly ruthless ingénue insinuates herself into the lives of an aging Broadway star and her circle of theater friends.

“What a movie! Itu0026#39;s the cinematic ideal, the standard by which subsequent films are judged, at least in terms of acting and dialogue. Maybe the camera, which does nothing but sit there as the actors act, could have been made a little less static. But the story screams stage play, which implies lots of talk and not much u0026quot;actionu0026quot;. The film doesnu0026#39;t pretend to do all things. But what it does do, it does extremely well.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAs Margo, Bette Davis gives what I would consider one of the best performances, if not the best performance, in any film I have ever seen. She truly becomes Margo, that u0026quot;fixture of the theateru0026quot;, so beloved yet so insecure. And as Eve, u0026quot;the mousy one, with the trench coat and the funny hatu0026quot;, breathy Anne Baxter proves adept at subtleties that allow her character to change gradually over time.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThen thereu0026#39;s George Sanders who effortlessly slips into the role of witty, urbane, pompous Addison DeWitt, columnist magnifico, a man whose high opinion of himself allows him to declare to us, as viewers, that he is u0026quot;essential to the theateru0026quot;. Celeste Holm and reliable Thelma Ritter give topnotch performances as well.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAnd the Mankiewicz script, which tells the story of a group of theater people, is heavy on dialogue, but itu0026#39;s totally believable, as characters talk shop and interrelate, by means of suitable verbal conflict and subtle subtext. Even more than that, the dialogue is witty and clever, with tons of theatrical metaphors, like when Bill (Gary Merrill) angrily tells Margo: u0026quot;And to intimate anything else doesnu0026#39;t spell jealousy to me, it spells a paranoid insecurity that you should be ashamed of.u0026quot; To which Margo just as angrily spits out: u0026quot;Cut, print it, what happens in the next reel? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pits?u0026quot;u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOne of my favorite scenes has several people sitting on a stairway at a party. A curvaceous but bird-brained Miss Casswell (Marilyn Monroe), u0026quot;from the Copacabana school of actingu0026quot;, desires another drink. u0026quot;Oh waiter!u0026quot;, she yells out. Addison schools her: u0026quot;That isnu0026#39;t a waiter, my dear; thatu0026#39;s a butler.u0026quot; To which she fires back: u0026quot;Well I canu0026#39;t yell u0026#39;Oh butleru0026#39;, can I? Maybe somebodyu0026#39;s name is Butleru0026quot;. Addison then concedes: u0026quot;You have a point, an idiotic one, but a point.u0026quot;u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIu0026#39;m not sure I really like the characters in this film. Generally, theyu0026#39;re self-absorbed, vain, haughty, and backbiting. Theyu0026#39;re not all that likable. And that would be my only serious complaint.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOtherwise, u0026quot;All About Eveu0026quot; is a film that excels at great language and great acting. If ever there was a film that deserves the status of u0026quot;classicu0026quot;, this is surely it.”


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