I was pleasantly surprised.
All About Eve is a story about the theatre. The theatre of the 50s: when it was ultra-chic and a star on Broadway got as much national clout as Clark Gable. So, since the theatre in the 50s was like Hollywood, it isn't too far of a stretch to realize that theatre in the 50s had all of the great things that we associate with modern-day Hollywood: viscous columnists (George Sanders), arrogant stars (Bette Davis), eager, back-stabbing starlets (Anne Baxter), useless trophy wives (Celeste Holm), director-husbands (Gary Merrill), and writers who think they are God's gift to prose (Hugh Marlowe). Oh, yeah, and untalented actresses cast only for their looks (Marilyn Monroe).
In case any one was worried that this was the beginning of one of my high bad reviews, let me clarify that each actor or actress plays that type of character, I make no comment upon whether they actually were that type of character.
Oh, yeah, and Happy Birthday, Mr. President.
As a point of fact, I watched All About Eve with the same kind of sardonic pleasure that I watched The Player with. The film is filled with a nice dark humor that is rare for the I-Like-Ike decade of filmmaking. Normally, 50s films were sunny and bright, filled with either postwar jubilation or the works of hack horror directors such as Ed Wood. In the midst of the social pressures of its day, however, All About Eve retains a tremendous irony and darkness to the film that is just plain unexpected. It is the type of movie that you would never expect a studio to back, and this was back when the only quality independent film made was Citizen Kane.
All About Eve stands on its own two legs even if you remove the social consideration that I am giving it. The most impressive thing about it is not the era that it came out, but that fact that the film would easily turn a profit in a release today (not a re-release, but a release). It is a compelling and interesting picture that, like watching the TV series Action, makes you constantly marvel at the limbo bar that is show business.
All About Eve is timeless. It is one of the films that salivates with irony, and thus salivates with a great fun.
Run time: 138 mins
In Theaters: Monday 15th January 1951
Box Office Worldwide: $8.4M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
IMDB: 8.4 / 10
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenwriter: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring: Bette Davis as Margo Channing, Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington, George Sanders as Addison DeWitt, Celeste Holm as Karen Richards, Gary Merrill as Bill Sampson, Hugh Marlowe as Lloyd Richards, Gregory Ratoff as Max Fabian, Barbara Bates as Phoebe, Marilyn Monroe as Miss Caswell, Thelma Ritter as Birdie Coonan, Walter Hampden as Aged Actor, Randy Stuart as Girl, Craig Hill as Leading Man, Leland Harris as Doorman, Barbara White as Autograph Seeker, Bess Flowers as Awards ceremony guest who congratulates Anne Baxter