All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve (1950)

Director: Joseph L Mankiewicz
Starring: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders

An aging theater actress takes in a young fan who idolizes her, but she may not be as innocent as she appears.

Movies about acting have long interested me because they turn the glass inward. This movie in particular is a rather interesting character study. I find myself being a little self-conscious doing these reviews because I praise the performances of actors more than actresses, especially in older films. I'd like to think this isn't because of any particular prejudice against actresses, but I've tried examining it and my conclusion is that it's less a matter of actresses being unimpressive than it is that many female characters aren't particularly compelling and I suppose it doesn't matter how good of an actress you are, you can't make much of a stock love interest. I'm happy to say that a movie called All About Eve actually delivers compelling female characters and I actually find myself largely discounting the males for a change. The exception to this is George Sanders as theater critic Addison DeWitt, possibly the best role in his storied career for which he rightfully got the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The two leads, Bette Davis and Anne Baxter, only got the nomination, unfortunately. Davis as Margo Channing presages her performance in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? nicely (though not dialing up the psycho nearly as much) and like that movie, there's an interesting meta context in the relationship between Davis and Baxter and their characters. There's also a small role for Marilyn Monroe, rather understated and a sign of what she might've been like on screen were it not for the explosion of her sex symbol status. If you like character-centric films, this is one of the better ones out there and I highly recommend it.

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