Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Film of the Week: All About Eve, 1950
Joseph Mankiewicz wrote and directed this 1950 triumph which not only revived the career of Bette Davis, but also inspired generations of writers and filmmakers. Based on “The Wisdom of Eve,” a 1946 short story by Mary Orr, All About Eve tells the tale of an aging Broadway star and the young woman who tries to take her place in the spotlight.
The Two Mrs. Carrols (later made into a film with Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck), Bergner found herself taking pity on a young fan whom she invited into her home and employed as her personal assistant. Her generosity was punished when the young woman tried to undermine Bergner’s career. “The Wisdom of Eve” is based on Bergner’s story.
Mankiewicz had already planned on writing a screenplay about an aging actress when he read “The Wisdom of Eve,” and realized that the addition of a conniving younger character would heighten the drama. Changing the name of the main character from Margola Cranston to Margo Channing, adding new characters and removing others, Mankiewicz crafted an intelligent and sophisticated retelling of the story. He presented the idea to Daryl F. Zanuck at Twentieth Century Fox who liked the plot, but thought it was too long and lacking in dramatic punch in some areas. Zanuck cut the script by fifty pages and gave the project the green light.
With crisp, brilliant writing, top-notch performances and some of the most quotable lines in film history, All About Eve is a film that we should know all about.