Starring: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Running Time: 138 mins
All About Eve is an American film about a young woman, the number one fan of an ageing actress, who is taken in and establishes herself within the acting community, causing tensions between herself and her former idol as she rockets to stardom.
This film may be made in 1950, but for that time, it’s styled in quite an old way. With an ensemble cast, slower pacing and very simple staging, you would be forgiven for mistaking this for a 1930s film. However, thematically, it’s a lot more modern, with dark and racy concepts underlying that completely change this film from a simple drama into a thrilling and tense story.
The story is the most fascinating part of this film. The title may suggest that it’s all about Eve (the young fan), but it’s in fact a study of various characters in the story that are affected by Eve’s presence, not even her actions at points, and that is definitely one of the most intriguing elements of this plot.
Immediately, you see the extreme tensions that appear as soon as Eve first appears on screen as a nobody. It may not be immediately evident why there are these tensions, but the film has a brilliant way of clearly showing you the very tenuous atmosphere in the majority of the scenes.
The ageing actress, played by Bette Davis, is also a fascinating part of the story. It’s difficult to really place her on a spectrum of good and bad, as although you see she is largely honest, she’s a very jealous and shouty woman who can easily get on your nerves.
Whereas Eve, a sweet, seemingly innocent young woman is immediately easy to support, and you feel yourself rooting for her every action, despite the fact that as the film unfolds, you begin to question how truly good a protagonist she is.
And it’s that sort of vague, unpredictable feeling that ultimately makes this film as exciting as it is. Yes, I will admit that I struggled to be really intrigued by it in the opening stages, thinking that it was totally predictable, but I was absolutely wrong.
By the end, more and more characters are brought into the story that confuse and exaggerate matters even more, and as tensions grow, it becomes a suspenseful plot that leaves you on the edge of your seat waiting for something to erupt.
The other main part of this film is the themes. Rather than showing simply the life of a rags to riches girl, it examines the darker side of show business, filled with all the backstabbery and conflict that is actually present in the industry, which I thought was incredibly original as well as intriguing.
So, overall, this gets an 8.0, because although I may have struggled with its initially older and slower style, it became an absolutely thrilling and thematically intriguing film.