Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of going to see the classic All About Eve at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix. It was a wonderful evening for such an event, although it got a little cold (yes, it gets cold here, Sara!), but there is nothing better than enjoying a film while laying on a blanket in the grass with about 200 gay men chugging cocktails.
All About Eve is the story of the ambitious Eve Harrington, who befriends theatre star Margo Channing at the height of Margo’s career, coming to her first as a shy, starstruck girl with a checkered past. Margo, in a supreme act of hubris, invites Eve into her home and into her life, setting the gears in motion for the drama (and hilarity) that ensue.
What’s wonderful about this film is twofold: first, Bette Davis, with whom I share my birthday, gives a tour de force performance as Margo. A forty-year-old actress playing 24-year-old parts, Margo is feeling especially old. Her younger boyfriend is less a comfort and more a worry to her, and she drinks heavily. Davis’s Margo is brilliant because she is equal parts unapologetic diva and insecure hysteric; Davis remembers to show Margo’s vulnerability but does so not as a weakness, but as a kind of revelation. Margo’s diva nature is external, is cultivated by those around her, while her inner life makes her into a well-rounded human being.
The other thing to celebrate here is the writing and dialogue. This film is full of amazing lines, most of them Margo’s, full of wit and rancor. You’ll recognize “Buckle your seat belts, boys, it’s going to be a bumpy ride,” but the context of this line and its actual delivery transcend the trope it has become. Equally entertaining are the voiceover remarks provided by theatre critic Addision DeWitt, the foppy bachelor who flits around these women of the theatre with both disgust and complete adoration.
You’ll recognize elements of the plot in films that followed, everything from Single White Female to The Devil Wears Prada. All About Eve stands at the top of the heap, though, transcending time and remaining and important classic film.
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