“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night”. It is one of the most commonly quoted (and misquoted) lines in the history of film. In addition, it is delivered by the incomparable and legendary Bette Davis in “All About Eve”, a juicy drama from 1950 directed and written by Joseph Mankiewicz. This quote in embedded in modern-day lexicon, embodying the aura of uneasiness of the unknown and predicting the sense that unpredictable yet stirring events are about to unfold. In the film, this quote is impeccably placed. It signals the deception, criticism, loss, and turmoil set to unfold in the lives of deep-rooted and also budding theatrical folk in this flawless film.
Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) is a starry-eyed fan of the theatre world claiming to have seen every performance of “Aged in Wood”, a play in which theatre veteran Margo Channing (Bette Davis) plays the lead role. After one performance on a rainy evening, Margo’s best friend Karen Richards (Celeste Holm) invites the impressionable Eve to the star’s dressing room, where she meets Margo and a number of people in her inner circle. Margo and director boyfriend Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill, who later married Ms. Davis in real life) grow to quickly trust and wrap Eve under their wings, as Eve becomes Margo’s secretary, second hand, and second brain. However, longtime maid and friend Birdie Coonan (Thelma Ritter) is suspicious of Eve’s infatuated motives, alerting Margo to this potential mistrust. After the aforementioned quote is spoken at a party for Bill (which Eve set into motion, unsurprisingly), an elaborate web of issues associated with ageism, vulnerability, deceit, manipulation, blackmail, dishonesty, disdain, female competition, and tainted success unfolds between these fascinating and colourful characters.
This film is such a classic in every sense of the word. The script is absolutely brilliant, encapsulating the necessary and important character development and flaws of all involved in the film’s universe of New York theatre. The acting is outstanding to say the least. George Sanders won Best Supporting Actor for his role as intelligently scheming theatrical critic, Addison DeWitt. Davis, Holm, Baxter, and Ritter were also deservingly nominated for their roles. A total of fourteen Oscar nominations were bestowed upon this film, with six wins including Best Picture and Best Director. “Titanic” and “La La Land” have only been able to match this mountainous feat of nominations. I feel that this is one of the most superb films ever constructed. Some of the characters in this film can definitely be thought of as the original “mean girls”!
Eve Harrington is certainly one of the most contested and engrossing characters in cinematic history. Her ascent to stardom is certainly marked by malice and corruption. Her transformation within the film from lamb to wolf, so to speak, is startling. It stirs the most unsettling emotions in viewers. Fellow characters and viewers mark a wide range of curiosity to contention surrounding Eve. Hence, the core of the film is “all about Eve”. However, her actions have created an extreme ripple effect amongst those in her own inner circle. This film is a stark reminder of how each of our decisions and motives influence others in our lives to either their or our detriment or benefit. Integrity and truth must therefore be key components of our actions in daily life. Manipulation will either immediately or eventually serve to hurt those who fuel and/or receive impending emotional damage.
I do not own the pictures in this post.
This post is part of the Classic Quotes Blogathon, hosted by The Flapper Dame. Please check out more wonderful posts over the next few days pertaining to classic films with classic quotes!