All About Eve (1950)

“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.


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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!



The American Friend (1977)

The art and mastery of deception have been approached by many and accomplished by few. Distinguishing features discerning individuals’ capabilities in this realm include narcissism, antisocial traits, and overall lack of empathy. Those with these aforementioned traits may slide into the world of fraudulence with great ease while those with higher levels of compassion and appreciation of others’ needs undoubtedly experience guilt. However, particular needs, desires, and goals may create drive to bypass emotions associated with guilt to fulfill immoral acts. Wim Winders’ 1977 neo-noir “The American Friend” based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1974 novel “Ripley’s Game” wholeheartedly explores this concept with a humble frame-maker at the epicentre of this dilemma.

Jonathan Zimmermann (Bruno Ganz) is, as already mentioned, an owner of a frame-making shop in Hamburg with an extremely rare hematological malady. He has an initial icy encounter with wealthy American “cowboy” and art forgery extraordinaire Tom Ripley (Dennis Hopper) at an art auction. French gangster Raoul Minot (Gerard Blain) subsequently asks Ripley to kill members of a rival crime syndicate. Displeased by this interaction with the frame-maker, Ripley indirectly rights this disdainful encounter by setting up Zimmermann as a lowly assassin for this purpose. Unsuspecting and honest Zimmermann is thus carefully manipulated and deeply thrust into the once unknown crime underworld with financial coercion.

Many elements of this film create synergy in its effective delivery of suspense and urgency. The slow buildup of knowingly future tense scenes produces a sense of dread, desperation, and bewilderment. I feel that this necessary technique pays homage to the film noir aura, and especially the style of Hitchcock. The dissimilar and plot-enhancing fast-paced train sequence pays homage to “Shadow of a Doubt” and “Strangers on a Train”, the latter which is based on a novel of the same name written by Highsmith. I also believe that he contrasting vast scenery of Hamburg and claustrophobic images within rooms amplify the conflicted and tormented inner selves of the main characters.

Ultimately, Ripley and Zimmermann establish a mutual agreement. Some may even call it a friendship, with Ripley being “the American friend”. However, there is a lack of genuineness and sense of hypocrisy in the contextual use of the word. This amicability was built on lies, murder, initial disrespect, and exploitation. I believe that both used each other as means to an end in their pursuits, which is unfortunately how some so-called “friendships” operate in the real world. Roots of jealousy and conspiracy can grow from either acquaintances or perceivably strong friendships, leading to a destructive snowball effect. It is therefore imperative that honesty, humility, respect, and true care serve as the foundation for any relationship.


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Fox and His Friends (1975)

Financial security is necessary for survival by humans in many jurisdictions of Planet Earth. This is usually achieved via employment, careful budgeting, and sometimes luck. This said luck grandiosely amplifies prior to an individual acquiring a great deal of wealth via other means, such as winning the lottery. However, sudden prosperity can evoke emotional confusion, exploitation, misguided self-worth, and a false sense of hope and stability. The dark side of perceived positive outcomes is an idea which many choose to ignore. “Fox and His Friends”, directed in 1975 by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, carefully examines this rollercoaster scenario and somewhat taboo topic.

Franz Bieberkopf a.k.a. “Fox”, played by Fassbinder himself, works as a “talking head” at a local carnival. The employment of all carnival workers is compromised when the owner and partner of Fox, Klaus (Karl Scheydt) is arrested for tax fraud. It is evident that the two share a strong bond, and that the relationship’s forced dissolution could foreshadow a troublesome future. Contrary to these immediate thoughts, Fox wins 500,000 marks in the lottery which seems to be highly prospective in resolving his lack of incoming finances. All must be right in the world in this instance, as he additionally falls into a social circle of prominent, wealthy gay men. Sophistication and self-absorption enamours them, which is quite different from Fox’s original group of friends he more infrequently associates with at a local bar. Ultimately, Fox’s elatedness and naivety fails to dissect the truth of surrounding lies within the new group of “friends”, and a tumultuous journey filled with backstabbing, manipulation, infidelity, greed, dishonesty, and loss of true identity ensues.

I feel as if there is a duality within the title of the film. Fox’s true group of friends remains present as he navigates this new bourgeois way of life. They are also of the same social class as Fox once was, and this creates a common link between them. The title of “friends” for the shinier new assembly is sarcastic and hypocritical, yet Fox is drawn to them as he aspires to bask in their glory and ascend the social class ladder. This facade of bought popularity and love tantalizes many gullible people, especially those who may be in the midst of discovering their true sense of self. Persons in positions of power may swarm to prey upon others to exploit for their own means, as was the case with Fox. Overall, I believe that this film is a strong reminder to the viewers to take quality time to cultivate one’s own personal growth and true relationships. While strong financial planning cannot be underestimated, individual maturation and life experience could potentially assist us to resist the temptation of entering and partaking in a false world.



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