Bette Davis and Anne BaxterThe principal cast of All About Eve. (Left to right) Gary Merrill, Bette Davis, George Sanders, Anne Baxter, Hugh Marlowe and Celeste Holm.

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All About Eve

All About Eve is a 1950 movie drama written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, from the story The Wisdom of Eve, by Mary Orr. more...

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Bette Davis plays Margo Channing, a highly regarded, aging Broadway actress, with Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington, a young fan who insinuates herself into Channing's life, ultimately threatening Channing's career and her personal relationships. Gary Merrill, George Sanders, Hugh Marlowe, Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter also appear, and the film provided one of Marilyn Monroe's earliest important roles.

It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six awards, including Best Picture. It has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Synopsis

Margo Channing is the biggest star on Broadway but is beginning to show her age. She encounters a young woman who claims to be her biggest fan, and who worms her way into Margo's life, eventually becoming her secretary. Gradually, it is revealed that Eve is more scheming and duplicitous than she seems. She begins working to supplant Margo: she takes the role of her understudy and engineers Margo's absence so that she can play her role onstage. Eve gives such a good performance that her own career as a theatre star begins to take off, and she becomes a bigger star than Margo. At the end of the film, Eve herself encounters an apparently besotted young fan, and it is implied that the cycle will continue.

Background

While performing in The Two Mrs. Carrolls during 1943 and 1944, Elisabeth Bergner allowed a young fan to become part of her household, and employed her as an assistant, but later regretted her generosity when the woman attempted to undermine her. Referring to her only as "the terrible girl", Bergner related the events to Mary Orr, who used it as the basis for a story The Wisdom of Eve. In the story, Orr attributed a more ruthless character to the girl, and allowed her to succeed in stealing the career of the older actress. Bergner later confirmed the basis of the story in her autobiography Bewundert Viel und Viel Gescholten (Greatly Admired and Greatly Scolded).

In 1949, Mankiewicz was considering a story about an aging actress, and upon reading The Wisdom of Eve felt that the conniving girl would be a useful addition to his own ideas. He sent a memo to Darryl F. Zanuck saying it "fits in with an original idea and can be combined. Superb starring role for Susan Hayward". Mankiewicz presented a film treatment of the combined stories under the title Best Performance. He changed the main character's name from Margola Cranston to Margo Channing and retained several of Orr's characters, Eve Harrington, Lloyd and Karen Richards and Miss Caswell. He removed Margo Channing's husband completely and replaced him with a new character, Bill Sampson. The intention was to depict Channing in a new relationship, and allow Eve Harrington to threaten both Channing's professional and personal lives. Mankiewicz also added the characters Addison DeWitt, Birdie Coonan, Max Fabian and Phoebe.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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