ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) B/W 138m dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
w/Bette Davis, Gary Merrill, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Marlowe, Gregory Ratoff, Barbara Bates
Mankiewicz's jaundiced look at the show biz battle zone better known as Broadway is probably the summit of Hollywood filmmaking: it's as finely crafted an entertainment as we're likely to see. Eve (Baxter) insinuates herself into the good graces of some generous theater folk. What gives this cynical high comedy its emotional resonance and depth, however, is the poignance with which Davis plays Margo Channing, the just-turned-forty actress who's a living monument to enormous talent and volcanic temperament. Marilyn's a standout in a small, early role.
The film received Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Sanders), Screenplay, Sound Recording, and B&W Costume Design (Edith Head). It was also nominated for Best Actress (both Baxter and Davis), Supporting Actress (both Holm and Ritter), B&W Cinematography, Art Direction, Editing, and Original Music Score. Whew!
From The Movie Guide: "ALL ABOUT EVE is the consummate backstage story, a film that holds a magnifying glass up to theatrical environs and exposes all the egos, tempers, conspiracies and backstage back-biting that make up the world of make-believe Broadway. The screenplay, written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also directed, may be the most biting example of hard-boiled wit ever to come out of Hollywood, and it is stylishly performed at a breakneck pace by a uniformly expert cast.
"... Bette Davis was doomed to lose [the Oscar] for Best Actress, canceled out by Baxter's shared nomination, and by rival old pro Gloria Swanson for SUNSET BOULEVARD (all lost to rookie Judy Holliday for BORN YESTERDAY). The musical Applause, a Broadway success with Lauren Bacall, and later Anne Baxter, was based on EVE."