Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1950. Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, inspired by the story The Wisdom Of Eve by Mary Orr. Cinematography by Milton R. Krasner. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. Music by Alfred Newman. Production Design by George W. Davis, Lyle R. Wheeler. Costume Design by Edith Head, Charles Le Maire. Film Editing by Barbara McLean.
Here’s perfect writing if ever a movie ever had it. Bette Davis plays famous and established actress Margo Channing, a self-centred but vulnerable woman who is pursued relentlessly by Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a seemingly innocent fan who worships Channing until she eventually becomes her personal assistant. Eve’s devotion soon becomes sinister, but when Margo lets her friends in on it they just think she’s being selfish and unfair. Celeste Holm is excellent as Margo’s best friend, who at first is on Eve’s side but eventually sees how ruthless she is in climbing to the top. The party scene early on in the film features some of the film’s best lines (“Fasten your seat belts…it’s going to be a bumpy night!”), though my personal favourite is towards the end when Davis tells Baxter to put her recently won acting award “where [her] heart should be”; Margo Channing is just about the best female character of the fifties. Features Marilyn Monroe in an early role.
The Criterion Collection: #1003
Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders); Best Director (Joseph L. Mankiewicz); Best Screenplay; Best Costume Design-BW; Best Sound Recording
Nominations: Best Actress (Anne Baxter); Best Actress (Bette Davis); Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm); Best Supporting Actress (Thelma Ritter); Best Cinematography-BW; Best Art Direction-BW; Best Film Editing; Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Cannes Film Festival Awards: Jury Special Prize; Best Actress (Bette Davis)
Golden Globe Award: Best Screenplay
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actress (Bette Davis); Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders); Best Supporting Actress (Thelma Ritter); Best Director (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)