All About Eve 1950

Read the script
Extract from All About Eve (DOC).

Spoiler alert
Spoiler alert – this scene comes close to the end of the film. If you haven’t seen All About Eve, you should no longer deny your­self the pleasure; and prefer­ably do it before you read this script or watch this clip.

Written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Star­ring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and George Sanders

The Story

Based on the story The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr, All About Eve is an eleg­antly bitchy back­stage story revolving around aspiring actress Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). Tattered and forlorn, Eve shows up in the dressing room of Broadway mega-star Margo Chan­ning (Bette Davis), weaving a melan­choly life story to Margo and her friends.

Taking pity on the girl, Margo takes Eve as her personal assistant. Before long, it becomes apparent that naive Eve is a Machiavel­lian conniver who cold-bloodedly uses Margo, her director Bill Sampson (Gary Merill), Lloyd’s wife Karen (Celeste Holm), and waspish critic Addison De Witt (George Sanders) to rise to the top of the theat­rical heap”.

(Plot summary by Hal Erikson, from Rotten Toma­toes)

For more about the story: Film­site Movie Review

The monster meets her match

Nine times out of ten, when char­ac­ters are inter­acting in an exciting or involving way, there is some kind of power struggle taking place. Some­times it is happening on a covert and hidden level and some­times, as in this scene, it is very much out in the open.

Eve is a wonderful monster – on a par with Iago and Richard the Third for her manip­u­lative skills  – but, unlike those char­ac­ters, we don’t get to see her inner work­ings. We, the audi­ence, are the spec­tators of her plot­ting but her motives are never spelled out and she remains some­thing of an enigma until this scene.

In Addison de Witt, Mankiewicz creates a char­acter who is more than equal to Eve. She is intu­it­ively cunning and blindly ambi­tious (a quality, so Mankiewicz implies, that many actresses possess) but she lacks self-awareness. Addison knows exactly how she ticks and so is able to call her bluff and unmask her.

The power of wounding insight is some­thing often given as a weapon to an antag­onist and this type of ‘unmasking’ scene is a common one, but what gives this film such a deli­cious twist is that dull ‘truth’ and ‘honesty’ fail to prevail in the end. The arch hypo­crite is rewarded with honour and success – as so often happens in show busi­ness. As so often happens in life.

David Clough 2013

Read the photostory of All About Eve

Photost­ories tell the story of a film in strip-form, using stills. They were a feature of early film magazines. This one is taken from an eighties Orbis public­a­tion called The Movie.

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