Beth’s Classic Film Club: All About Eve

Is Mean Girls one of your favorite movies? Well, how about if instead of being a comedy, it was a serious film? And instead of Lindsey Lohan being a well-meaning kid who learns her lesson and apologizes, she was a lying, manipulative actress who would do anything to get ahead, including stabbing her friends in the back and trying to steal their husbands, and only fake-apologize for it? And how about if there were dudes in the movie who were just as mean as the mean girls? DARK. And that is why The Hubs, who will watch any horror movie and not wince once, is terrified by our next film club selection: All About Eve. And when you ask him why, he says, “Because horror movies aren’t real.”

All About Eve won 6 Oscars and a Golden Globe–let’s talk about why.

OK, first off, Betty Davis. BETTY FUCKING DAVIS. Now there’s a woman who could act. Her character in this movie is so deeply flawed, and yet, you want her to be happy. You can’t help but love her even as she’s being a horrible spoiled brat who shits on everyone around her. She delivers some amazing lines in this film that would be cheesy if anyone else said them, I mean, anykne, even Kate Hepburn. At several points in this movie, I begin to wonder if flames are actually going to shoot out of her eyeballs. She’s vulnerable and powerful all at once and it’s amazing.

Then there’s my favorite character of the film, Addison DeWitt, played by George Sanders, a hell of an actor (he was great in Ivanhoe, too) who won an Oscar for this part. DeWitt may be the most viscous, consciously self-serving jerk in the history of film. I believe he may have invented snark. He disdains everyone and everything, including himself. He says things like “While you wait, you can read my column. It will the make minutes fly like hours.” He is a character I love to hate.

The supporting cast is wonderful. A young Marilyn Monroe (who was virtually unknown at the time) plays a night club dancer trying to break into theater. Thelma Ritter is sassy, as she is in every role she plays. And Gregory Ratoff is fantastic as Max the hapless producer. Oh Max, if I were you, I’d need some Bromo Fizz too.

And then there’s Eve, played by Anne Baxter. I’m afraid to say anything, because I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, but…yeah. Eve. I think we’ve all probably known a few Eves in our lives. Or perhaps we’ve been Eve ourselves. Ponder that as you watch the film.

And also ponder the film from a feminist perspective. Think about women supporting each other in their careers, or not. Think about today’s discussions of supermoms, and what we know about what roles there are for women in film as they age. What is this film saying about all that, and is it right? Could you remake this film today or wouldn’t feel dated? Who would you cast as Eve? Leave me your thoughts in the comments.

I am fascinated by All About Eve and I find something new in it every time I watch it. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do, and I hope it doesn’t give you too many nightmares!