16 April 2010

WWQTW?: All About Eve


Monday was the 2nd annual WWQTW? meeting, and it was a total success! We ate delicious food and watched "All About Eve".

Released in 1950, it garnered 14 Oscar nominations and snagged the Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor- George Sanders. It is the only film in which 4 woman were nominated for acting awards for the same film. It won Best Film at that years BAFTA's, as well as the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. When it premiered at Cannes Film Festival, it received a Special Jury Prize and Bette Davis won Best Actress. It is currently #28 on AFI's Top 100 Movies list and a must see! The director, Joseph Mankiewicz, is the only person to have won Best Screenplay and Best Director two years in a row (He won the previous year for "A Letter to Three Wives"). When Claudette Colbert injured herself shortly before shooting was set to begin, she was replaced by Bette Davis and the rest, as they say, is history!

Based on a short story by Mary Orr, "All About Eve" tells the story of veteran stage diva Margo Channing (Davis) and her relationship with a precocious fan, Eve (Anne Baxter). Eve has seen every performance of Margo's and waits for her patiently outside the stage door hoping for a glance at her idol. She befriends Margo's best friend Karen who introduces them. Eve is the best possible friend to have- she does whatever Margo asks of her ("This is how they dealt with stalkers in that day? Just embrace them?"- Lauren). Of course, nothing is as it seems. "All About Eve" is the seminal film about ruthless upstarts and show business. It is also a great example of female relationships both towards each other as well as the men that inhabit their lives. I think Megan said it best, "[The] complexity of female relationships and the guys didn't get it!" It certainly says a lot for Mankiewicz's talent as a writer! Eve effects, both positively and negatively, everyone she comes into contact with. If one person turns her out, she moves on to the next closest person and tries to integrate herself into their lives. It presents woman in a very modern way while still holding strong to the beliefs and conventions of the time. Margo is unhappy and single; she does everything in her power to push her beau away (tres modern). Karen is blissfully naive and married (repressed). They all drink and smoke and cavort in ways that are more than simply "implied, it's obvious" (thanks Lauren)!

My favorite quote from the group came from Stacy, out illustrious host: "hell, I'd marry his dead corpse, it's still better..." I really wish I had written down the context of this remark, so if you were there please let me know!

Our groups was enamoured of the writing style immediately and kept taking notes of clever dialog throughout the viewing. The acerbic wit spouted by Davis and the other characters (George Sanders' DeWitt, a newspaper critic, is a close 2nd for the best lines) would be best described as Parker-esque (see: Dorothy Parker). A few of my favorites:

"With Eddie gone, my life went back to beer"- Eve

"Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride" -Margo (one of the most famous movie quotes ever)

"Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits?"
"Because that's what they are"- Miss Caswell (Marilyn Monroe in her 1st film) to DeWitt

"Everybody has a heart, except some people" -Margo

"Groom, may I have a wedding present"?
"What would you like? Texas?" - Margo to Bill

The Player, All About My Mother, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Stage Door, A Star is Born (1937), Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Next month, I promised to pick a modern (i.e. in colour) film. I'm still not sure how mean I feel like getting, but I think something a bit obscure is called for. The whole point, as I see it, of WWQTW? is not only to expose it's participants to the films they should have seen; but also to those that many haven't seen. It is only in encompassing smaller genres or big names in little pictures, that one can call themselves a cinephile. It is my goal to get at least half of the group to feel confident enough to label themselves that within a year!