Thursday, July 07, 2011

Snappy dialogue and strong performances dominate "All About Eve"

Cover of "All About Eve (Two-Disc Special...Cover via AmazonAs my summer tour of the AFI top 100 continues, watching 1950's All About Eve (#16 on the list) was one of the most enjoyable experiences so far. It still holds the record (now tied with Titanic) for most Oscar nominations, and I can see why.

Both female leads - Betty Davis as Margo and Anne Baxter as Eve - are excellent, but neither won the Oscar. They split the "Best Actress" vote. If Baxter had submitted her name as "Best Supporting Actress", they probably would have both won. The only acting prize for this film went to George Sanders as the manipulative theater critic Addison DeWitt. He was great to watch and looked like he was enjoying every minute of his role. He even got to be one of the first actors to appear with one Marilyn Monroe on screen as she makes her major debut in this film.

Davis's performance as the insecure aging stage legend looked like a lot of fun to play as well. The script was fantastic as it revealed Eve's scheming graduallly. There was very little action in this film, so the dialogue had to carry the audience's interest and it did so beautifully.This might be heretical to some, but the snappy dialogue reminded me of the television shows "Cheers" and "Moonlighting."

Even though Margo is the ultimate theater diva, we see just enough of her vulnerability to feel sorry for her as people (knowingly and unknowingly) scheme against her. Even though she didn't win the Oscar, her performance is better remembered than the one which won (Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard).

Of the films I've seen so far this summer, All About Eve and The Apartment have been the best. At #16, I'd say Eve deserves her top 20 status.

Cover via AmazonBack to the musical next with Singin' in the Rain (#5 - the highest rated one I haven't seen).
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