The genius of All About Eve (1950) is that it does not drag out its fairly obvious premise that Broadway star Margo Channing’s enthusiastic, young super-fan, Eve Harrington, is deviously plotting her own career rise at Margo’s expense. Barely a quarter of the way into the film, Margo (Bette Davis) has already deemed Eve (Anne Baxter), whose fandom and sycophancy she’d rewarded with a personal assistant job, a threat to her career and boyfriend. In true theatrical fashion, Margo unleashes her first wave of retaliation by drunkenly making a scene at her own party.
Tag: Bette Davis
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.”
–Othello by William Shakespeare
In Basil Dearden’s 1962 film All Night Long, the writers shift Shakespeare’s Othello from 16th century Venice to 1960s London. Set in the black and white world of jazz clubs and smoky back rooms, All Night Long has a cool cocktail party vibe and a fantastic score. It also has a vicious plot full of innuendo, plotting, and lies. The writers obviously used Othello as a guide, but they may also have watched All About Eve once or twice.
The Man Who Came To Dinner – 1942 – dir. William Keighley
We call a film ‘classic’, while sometimes forgetting why and how it came to be labeled that way. “Oh”, we say, “The Man Who Came To Dinner. A classic movie!!” But why?
In the case of this Epstein Brothers-produced gem, the answer is easy. A super boffo comedy romp, it follows all the rules of how to make a movie that lasts, past time, past fashion: keen direction, faultless dialogue and performances, perfect pacing, plus a theme whose lessons remain timeless.
Mr. Skeffington (1944) – dir. Vincent Sherman
The great Bette Davis had many cinematic tricks up her sleeve. Three of these held her in good stead over a nearly-seventy year career: her eyes, her voice, her cigarette.
Never enough can be said about the famous “Bette Davis eyes”; they had their own three-ring circus going; they cartwheeled, they jumped, they batted, they flew, they flirted, they lied, they fluttered, they drooped. They were wet with tears when she wanted to deceive some man. They raised their joys to heaven and poured their poisons into the cups of those who worshiped at their altar. Davis knew what to do with them, and even when she over-used or over-relied on them, there seemed to be a reason for it. Entities unto themselves, they worked overtime for her and made her the finest screen actress of her time.
By Christine Bamberger
Now, Voyager – 1942 – dir. Irving Rapper
[Warning: Definitely brimming with spoilers!]
Although a definite relic of another age and sensibility, Now, Voyager is still regarded as one of the greatest romantic “women’s pictures” of all time. Indeed, it may be that its old-fashioned theme of self-sacrifice and its emotionally evocative Max Steiner score are part of the very reason the movie continues to fascinate us.