All About Eve (1950) is an American drama, and was written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The film was based on a short story, The Wisdom of Eve (1946), by Mary Orr. Beautifully written and directed, the film won the Academy Awards for Best Film Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Mankiewicz.
Bette Davis as Margo Channing and Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington, both won a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Oscars: Celeste Holm as Karen Richards, and Thelma Ritter as Birdie, both won a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. George Sanders, as Addison DeWitt, won Best Actor. The film also won Best Picture for producer Darryl F. Zanuck. The lovely music, by Alfred Newman, was nominated for Best Original Score. The film won many other awards and glowing reviews.
A notable small performances by a rising star was that of Marilyn Monroe as Miss Casswell. In spite of her intense fear of Bette Davis, Marilyn shines on the screen, and her star quality is obvious.
Of course, George Sanders is at his usual suave best, as Addison DeWitt, a theatre critic. He was the only person who seemed to have been impervious to the manipulative wiles of Eve.
Another small part was taken by Barbara Bates as Pheobe, the aspiring actress who hopes to replace Eve. Her screen presence was so great that she seemed headed for a wonderful career. Sadly, she ended her life at age 43, having suffered from mental ill health for a number of years.
Gary Merrill, who plays Margo’s eight-year’s younger lover, Bill Sampson, was in reality seven years younger than Bette Davis. He divorced his first wife, and the same day, married Bette Davis. They were married ten years, and separated after a bitter divorce.
We’ve all known people like Eve. Nowadays, probably, she would be called a narcissistic personality: beautiful; charming; manipulative to the extreme; unbelievably destructive. The film is well-named, because to someone like Eve, everything is all about her. She insinuates herself into Margo’s life, and creates havoc. As she is accepting the award, she thanks Margo, Bill, Lloyd, and Karen. They all stare back at her coldly, as she has wreaked such devastation in their lives.
The story told in All About Eve, is universal; the younger person scheming how to replace the leader in any field. We see the lengths to which that person will go, and the emptiness of success. Finally, we are reminded that there is always the younger person waiting in the wings to repeat the process.
For a budget of $1.4 million, the box office brought in $8.4 million. This was a great commercial success in 1950.