All About Eve (1950)
The world of theatre is something which has always intrigued me, ever since I was a child. Something about the lifestyle, the people and the personas have drawn me back time and again, and are probably the reason that I have chosen to plough ahead with a career in theatre (*as a disclaimer, know that I use the term ‘career’ as unpretentiously as possible, yet the truth is that I earn my living in this industry). All About Eve, a window into the world of performance and fame-mongering, is a total joy from beginning to end.
The young girl of whom the film is titled worms her way into the life of theatre star Margo Channing, eventually usurping her position as the era’s most famous and sought-after actress. Eve is a liar and a fraud who has faked her way into the circle which makes her famous, and the film boils down to a warning about fame and the vapid people who will try anything to have it.
Bette Davis is every bit the star her character Margo embodies, her larger-than-life persona charismatic and fascinating. Anne Baxter is gentle but creepy as Eve, a girl who has made herself blank and unobstrusive so as to climb the ladder to stardom. And rounded off by a surprising, early-career appearance by Marilyn Monroe (possibly the most beautiful woman I have ever seen), this is one of the most charismatic female ensembles I have ever had the priviledge of watching.
The film ends with an ironic twist as a newly honoured Eve comes home to find that she has obtained her own fauning wannabe-actress. In accepting this new arrival, Eve resigns herself to a life of surface values and textures, a threatening existence where at any point all she has earned could be stolen. She has found what she was searching for, but she will always be missing that vital component of truthfulness, in herself and in those around her.
Theatre is a world of constant performance. In an industry of larger-than-life personality, it would seem hard to tell reality from falsity, yet in truth when you are honed to analysing and understanding people the way actors, writers and directors are, you can easily get a sense of a person’s essence. Perhaps this is the most interesting aspect of All About Eve. I think that the characters see Eve’s true intentions from a mile off, and yet they resign themselves to let it play out. Because deep down, we all know that true fame is something which happens to somebody else, and if it happens to happen to you, you know that there will always be those who would do anything to take everything you have for themselves..