Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

All About Eve (1950)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

All About Eve (1950)

In writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz' black-and-white, Best Picture-winning masterpiece - a cautionary drama about ambition and intrigue in the world of the American theater (Broadway and New York) - with barbed, sophisticated and witty dialogue in the screen play and flawless acting and direction:

  • the opening scene was at an annual awards banquet for the presentation of the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement - to Eve Harrington (Oscar-nominated Anne Baxter), the youngest recipient ever; the scene was accompanied by the voice-over on an off-camera, muted voice: "And no brighter light has ever dazzled the eye than Eve Harrington. Eve. But more of Eve later, all about Eve, in fact"; shortly later, the voice described Eve as she accepted the award: "Eve. Eve the Golden Girl, the Cover Girl, the Girl Next Door, the Girl on the Moon. Time has been good to Eve. Life goes where she goes. She's the profiled, covered, revealed, reported. What she eats and what she wears and whom she knows and where she was, and when and where she's going. Eve. You all know All About Eve. What can there be to know that you don't know?"
  • the individual behind the voice was revealed to be cynical, caustic, acid-tongued New York drama critic Addison De Witt (Oscar-winning George Sanders), who then proceeded to introduce some of the film's main characters in attendance: Karen Richards (Celeste Holm), wife of playwright Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff), the theatrical producer of the play which had won the award for Eve, and famed Broadway actress Margo Channing (Oscar-nominated Bette Davis): "Margo Channing is a Star of the Theater. She made her first stage appearance, at the age of four, in Midsummer Night's Dream. She played a fairy and entered - quite unexpectedly - stark naked. She has been a Star ever since. Margo is a great Star. A true star. She never was or will be anything less or anything else"
  • in the remainder of the film, events from early October to June that led to the award ceremony were unfolded through the thoughts and actions of each important character that was in attendance
  • the flashbacked plot began with a backstage scene at the Broadway theatre of producer Max Fabian's play Aged in Wood, directed by the star's lover Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill)
  • innocent, forlorn, star-struck fan Eve ("the mousy one with the trench coat and a funny hat"), an adoring young fan of Margo, haunted the theater where her idol appeared, watching every performance and waiting in the back alley next to the theatre to see her idol arrive and leave; Eve was allowed inside to be introduced to Margo
  • meanwhile, mega-star Margo (with unflattering cold cream on her face) was in her backstage dressing room, denouncing her fans (autograph collectors): "Autograph fiends, they're not people. Those are little beasts that run around in packs like coyotes...They're nobody's fans. They're juvenile delinquent, they're mental defective, and nobody's audience. They never see a play or a movie even. They're never indoors long enough"
  • Margo's maid, friend and companion Birdie Coonan (Thelma Ritter) gave her negative reaction to Margo's put-on performance in Eve's presence: "When she gets like this - all of a sudden, she's playin' Hamlet's mother"
  • Eve delivered a captivating, lengthy hard-luck, melancholy tale of her life story to the dressing room audience; she had followed her acting idol from San Francisco across the country - with theatrical aspirations of her own to become a big star on Broadway; her story was capped by Birdie's callous, sarcastic, and skeptical comment: "What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end"; however, Margo developed protective feelings for Eve, and gave her a job as her confidential assistant/secretary; Birdie, however, warned Margo that Eve was not what she seemed and that she was being conned
  • Margo's lover and fiancee-to-be - theatrical director Bill Sampson, left for Hollywood for a month-long stay and a one-picture deal; to Margo's surprise, Eve has already anticipated and planned a welcome home (from Los Angeles) and belated birthday party for Bill ("a night to go down in history"), to be attended by all the leading lights of the New York theatrical world
  • growing more and more jealous, Margo began to sense Eve's conniving, and delivered her famous threat and premonition: "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night"
  • during the party, De Witt introduced his protege/date of the moment, a bimbo date and so-called starlet-actress named Miss Casswell (Marilyn Monroe): "Miss Casswell is an actress - a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art"; soon after, De Witt then pimped out Miss Caswell to producer Max Fabian - to promote her as a replacement for Margo's understudy: De Witt: "Now go and do yourself some good." Miss Casswell: "Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits?" De Witt: "Because that's what they are. Now go and make him happy"; at the same time, Eve manipulated her way into getting an audition as Margo's new understudy (her current one was pregnant) with the help of the playwright's wife Karen
  • Margo delivered an outburst of dialogue toward the end of the party, especially directed toward Eve: "Didn't you know? We're all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey, day and night. (To Eve) Aren't we, honey?"
  • a few weeks later, Margo was stunned to learn that Eve was her "new and unpregnant understudy" - and had calculatedly read in her place during Miss Casswell's aborted audition when she became violently ill; according to De Witt, Eve's understudy audition was a performance that mesmerized the producer, director, and playwright
  • after spending time in the country, Margo had a self-reflective moment about Eve's real persona; the temperamental and jealous actress was full of weaknesses and vain insecurities about her increasing age, delivered in the back seat of their stranded car to Karen; unable to get to the New York stage on time for her Monday evening performance, Margo realized that Eve would be going on stage in her place for the first time; she described how she had been hardened and paid the price in human relationships, especially with Bill, by her successful exhibitionist career: ("The things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you'll need them again when you get back to being a woman")
  • after Eve's understudy performance on stage (to replace Margo due to her unexpected absence) and her aggressive rise to stardom, De Witt's next-day column praised Eve and angered Margo, who read the plaudits for Eve's youthful role and a scathing interview in which Eve made unflattering statements about aging actresses who played inappropriate, younger roles
  • Eve had manipulatively begun to win over and steal away Karen's husband Lloyd - she had convinced him that she would be "fine for the part" - a starring role in his new play Footsteps on the Ceiling, to be put into production right away, playing the "younger" character of Cora (a role that Margo was originally to play); Karen suspected that Eve would stop at nothing to get the part; to everyone's surprise, Margo chose to retire from the competitive intrigues of the stage in favor of marriage to Bill Sampson
  • the new play's out-of-town opening ("Max Fabian presents Footsteps on the Ceiling, a new play by Lloyd Richards") was scheduled for the Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT; on the day of the debut opening, Eve encountered De Witt outside the Taft Hotel next to the theater; he already knew about her duplicity, lack of innocence and humility, and designs on taking playwright Lloyd from Karen for her own purposes by entering into an "unholy alliance" with him; the ambitious De Witt had his own designs on Eve, hoping to have her all to himself as his mistress ("...after tonight, you will belong to me") - this was the price Eve had to pay; he slapped her across the face and during a dramatic confrontation, he demolished her manufactured sob story she had told in the film's opening; when Eve protested that she couldn't go on stage after being devastated by his unmasking, De Witt thought otherwise and told the shameless, opportunistic actress: "Couldn't go on! You'll give the performance of your life"
  • in the final scene, following the Sarah Siddons awards banquet after Eve received the Best Actress of the Year trophy, one of Eve's star-struck followers named Phoebe (Barbara Bates) (another budding "Eve"), a fan club president from Brooklyn, visited Eve's hotel/apartment; she had the opportunity to clutch Eve's award while bowing in front of a large four-mirrored cheval - she stepped forward and bowed, again and again and again, acknowledging imaginary applause from an audience during a curtain call; it wouldn't be long before Phoebe, like Eve before her, would be rising the ladder of success at any cost

Eve Receiving Trophy Award at Sarah Siddons Ceremony

NY Drama Critic Addison De Witt at the Awards Event

Margo Channing with Eve

Margo: "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night"

Addison: "Miss Casswell is an actress - a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art"

Addison Urging Miss Casswell: "Now go and make him happy"

Margo's Self-Reflection About Her Aging in the Back Seat of Car - Stranded and Unable to Get to Her Stage Performance

De Witt's Denouncement of Eve's Duplicity and Manipulative Rise to Stardom Before Her Debut Performance in a New Play

Eve's Fan Phoebe (Barbara Bates) Bowing in Front of Mirror


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