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All About Eve

1967 US re-release film poster
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring Bette Davis
Anne Baxter
George Sanders
Celeste Holm
Thelma Ritter
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Editing by Barbara McLean
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) October 13, 1950 (1950-10-13)
(NYC premiere)
Running time 138 minutes
Country United States
Language English

All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, based on the short story "The Wisdom of Eve," by Mary Orr.

The film stars Bette Davis as Margo Channing, a highly regarded but aging Broadway star. Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington, a willingly helpful young fan who insinuates herself into Channing's life, ultimately threatening Channing's career and her personal relationships. George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Gary Merrill and Thelma Ritter also appear, and the film provided one of Marilyn Monroe's earliest important roles.

Praised by critics at the time of its release, All About Eve was nominated for 14 Academy Awards (a feat that was unmatched until the 1997 film, Titanic) and won six, including Best Picture. As of 2009, All About Eve is still the only film in Oscar history to receive 4 female acting nominations (Davis and Baxter as Best Actress, Holm and Ritter as Best Supporting Actress). All About Eve was selected in 1990 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and was among the first 50 films to be registered. All About Eve appeared at #16 on AFI's 1998 list of the 100 best American films.[1]

Contents

Plot

Bette Davis as Margo Channing

The film begins at an awards dinner, where the newest and brightest star on Broadway, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), is being presented the Sarah Siddons award for her breakout performance as Cora in Footsteps on the Ceiling. The droll newspaper critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) observes the proceedings and, in a sardonic voice over, recalls how Eve's star rose as quickly as it did.

The film flashes back a year. Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is one of the biggest stars on Broadway, but despite her unmatched success, she is beginning to show her age. After a performance one night, Margo's close friend Karen Richards (Celeste Holm), the wife of the play's author Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), meets a besotted fan, Eve Harrington, in the cold alley outside the stage door. Recognizing her from standing room (Eve claims to have seen every performance), Karen takes her backstage to meet Margo. Eve claims to be Margo's biggest fan who tells the group gathered in Margo's dressing room—Karen and Lloyd, Margo's lover Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill), and Margo's maid Birdie (Thelma Ritter)—that she followed Margo's theatrical tour to New York after seeing her in a play in San Francisco. Margo quickly befriends Eve, who willingly offers to assist Margo in small ways. Margo soon offers Eve a job as assistant, leaving Birdie, who dislikes Eve, feeling put out.

Eve begins working to supplant Margo, scheming to become her understudy and tricks Karen into sabotaging Margo's car, forcing her to miss a performance. Eve, knowing in advance she will go on, invites the city's theatre critics to the theatre that night. The night is a triumph. Eve makes a pass at Bill, but he rejects her. She then schemes to secure the role of Cora—despite the fact that Lloyd has written this new character for Margo—through blackmail, threatening to tell Margo of Karen's role in the car sabotage. Before she can put this plan in action, however, Margo announces to everyone's surprise that she does not wish to play Cora, and would prefer to continue in her current play, and even be willing to take it on tour. Eve secures the role, and attempts to climb higher by using theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders). Just before the out-of-town opening of her play Eve faces DeWitt with her next plan—to marry Lloyd after he divorces his wife. DeWitt is infuriated that Eve has attempted to use him and reveals that he knows her back story is all lies. He blackmails her, forcing her to become his mistress in exchange for his silence.

Eve becomes a Broadway star and is presented with an award for her performance in the role of Cora. She arrives home and encounters an apparently besotted young fan named Phoebe who had sneaked into her apartment. Phoebe begins to attend to Eve's needs. Phoebe answers the door to Addison who has returned with Eve's forgotten award. While Eve rests in the other room Phoebe tries on Eve's gown and poses in front of the mirror with her award. Phoebe steps up to the mirrors, which transform to reveal thousands of images of herself.

Production

Origin

The story of All About Eve originated in an anecdote related to Mary Orr by actress Elisabeth Bergner. While performing in The Two Mrs. Carrolls during 1943 and 1944, Bergner allowed a young fan to become part of her household and employed her as an assistant, but later regretted her generosity when the woman attempted to undermine her. Referring to her only as "the terrible girl," Bergner related the events to Orr, who used it as the basis for her short story "The Wisdom of Eve." In the story, Orr gives the girl a more ruthless character and allows her to succeed in stealing the career of the older actress. Bergner later confirmed the basis of the story in her autobiography Bewundert viel, und viel gescholten (Greatly Admired and Greatly Scolded).

In 1949, Mankiewicz was considering a story about an aging actress and, upon reading "The Wisdom of Eve," felt the conniving girl would be a useful added element. He sent a memo to Darryl F. Zanuck saying it "fits in with an original idea [of mine] and can be combined. Superb starring role for Susan Hayward." Mankiewicz presented a film treatment of the combined stories under the title Best Performance. He changed the main character's name from Margola Cranston to Margo Channing and retained several of Orr's characters, Eve Harrington, Lloyd and Karen Richards, and Miss Caswell, while removing Margo Channing's husband completely and replacing him with a new character, Bill Sampson. The intention was to depict Channing in a new relationship and allow Eve Harrington to threaten both Channing's professional and personal lives. Mankiewicz also added the characters Addison DeWitt, Birdie Coonan, Max Fabian, and Phoebe.

Zanuck was enthusiastic and provided numerous suggestions for improving the screenplay. In some sections he felt Mankiewicz's writing lacked subtlety or provided excessive detail. He suggested diluting Birdie Coonan's jealousy of Eve so the audience would not recognize Eve as a villain until much later in the story. Zanuck reduced the screenplay by about 50 pages and chose the title All About Eve from the opening scenes in which Addison DeWitt says he will soon tell "more of Eve ... All about Eve, in fact."[2]

Casting and characters

The principal cast of All About Eve. (Left to right) Gary Merrill, Bette Davis, George Sanders, Anne Baxter, Hugh Marlowe and Celeste Holm.

Bette Davis was cast as Margo Channing after Claudette Colbert severely injured her back and was forced to withdraw shortly before filming began.[3]

Davis, who had recently ended a 19-year association with Warner Brothers after several poorly received films, later commented she had read the script in one sitting and immediately accepted the role after realizing it was one of the best she had ever read. Channing had originally been conceived as genteel and knowingly humorous, but with the casting of Davis, Mankiewicz revised the character to be more abrasive. Among other actresses considered before Colbert were Mankiewicz's original inspiration, Susan Hayward, rejected by Zanuck as "too young," Marlene Dietrich, dismissed as "too German," and Gertrude Lawrence, who was ruled out of contention when her agent suggested, "Wouldn't it be nice if Gertie sat by the piano and sang?" Zanuck favored Barbara Stanwyck, but she was not available. Mankiewicz praised Davis for both her professionalism and the calibre of her performance, but in later years continued to discuss how Colbert would have played the role.

Anne Baxter had spent a decade in supporting roles and had won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Razor's Edge in 1947. She got the role of Eve Harrington after the first choice, Jeanne Crain, became pregnant. Crain was at the height of her popularity and had established a career playing likable heroines; Zanuck believed she lacked the "bitch virtuosity" required by the part, and audiences would not accept her as a deceitful character.

The role of Bill Sampson was originally intended for John Garfield or Ronald Reagan. Reagan's future wife Nancy Davis was considered for Karen Richards and Jose Ferrer for Addison DeWitt. Zsa Zsa Gabor actively sought the role of Phoebe without realizing the producers were considering her, along with Angela Lansbury, for Miss Caswell.

A young and unknown Marilyn Monroe (Miss Caswell) in a scene with Anne Baxter, Bette Davis and George Sanders.

Mankiewicz greatly admired Thelma Ritter and wrote the character of Birdie Coonan for her after working with her on A Letter to Three Wives in 1949. As Coonan was the only one immediately suspicious of Eve Harrington, he was confident Ritter would contribute a shrewd characterisation casting doubt on Harrington and providing a counterpoint to the more "theatrical" personalities of the other characters. Marilyn Monroe, relatively unknown at the time, was cast as Miss Caswell, referred to by DeWitt as a "graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art." Monroe got the part despite Zanuck's initial antipathy and belief she was better suited to comedy. Smaller roles were filled by Gregory Ratoff as the producer Max Fabian, Barbara Bates as Phoebe, a young fan of Eve Harrington, and Walter Hampden as the master of ceremonies at an award presentation.[2]

Cast

Response

Critical reaction

All About Eve received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics upon its release on October 13, 1950 at a New York City premiere. The film's competitor, Sunset Boulevard, released the same year, drew similar praise, and the two were often favorably compared. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times says of Davis that "veteran actress Margo Channing in All About Eve was her greatest role".[4] A collection of reviews from the film's release are stored on the website Rottentomatoes.com, and All About Eve has garnered 100% positive reviews there, making it "Certified fresh." Boxoffice.com stated that it "is a classic of the American cinema -- to this day the quintessential depiction of ruthless ambition in the entertainment industry, with legendary performances from Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and George Sanders anchoring one of the very best films from one of Hollywood's very best Golden Era filmmakers: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It is a film that belongs on every collector's shelf - whether on video or DVD. It is a classic that deserves better than what Fox has given it."[5]

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

Golden Globe Awards

NY Film Critics Circle Awards

Directors Guild of America Awards

  • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Motion Picture - Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Cannes Film Festival

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Later recognition and rankings

In 1990, All About Eve was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The film received in 1997 a placement on the Producers Guild of America Hall of Fame. The film also earns a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

American Film Institute recognition

When AFI named Bette Davis # 2 on its list of the greatest female American screen legends, All About Eve was the film selected to highlight Davis' legendary career. (Marilyn Monroe, who makes a brief appearance in Eve, ranked # 6 on the screen legends list.)

Sarah Siddons Award

The film opens with the image of a fictitious award trophy, described by DeWitt as the "highest honor our theater knows - the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement." In 1952, a small group of distinguished Chicago theater-goers began to give an award with that name, which was sculpted to look like the one used in the film. It has been given annually, with past honorees including Bette Davis, Anne Baxter and Celeste Holm.

Adaptations

A radio version of All About Eve starring Tallulah Bankhead as Margo Channing was presented on NBC's The Big Show by the Theatre Guild of the Air on November 16, 1952.[8] The production is notable in that Mary Orr, the writer of the original short story that formed the basis for the original film, played the role of Karen Richards. The cast also featured Alan Hewitt as Addison DeWitt (who narrated), Beatrice Pearson as Eve Harrington, Don Briggs as Lloyd Richards, Kevin McCarthy as Bill Samson, Florence Robinson as Birdie Koonan, and Stefan Schnabel as Max Fabian.[8]

In 1970, All About Eve was the inspiration for the stage musical Applause, with book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse. The original production starred Lauren Bacall as Margo Channing, and it won the Tony Award for Best Musical that season. It ran for four previews and 896 performances at the Palace Theatre on Broadway.

In popular culture

The plot of the film has been used numerous times (frequently as an outright homage to the film), with one famous example being a 1974 episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "A New Sue Ann". In the episode, the character of Sue Ann Nivens (Betty White), hostess of a popular local cooking show, hires a young, pretty and very eager fan as her apprentice and assistant, but the neophyte quickly begins to sabotage her mentor, in an attempt to replace her as host of the show. (Sue Ann, however, unlike Margo Channing, prevails in the end, countering the young woman's attempts to steal her success and sending her on her way.)[9]

A 2008 episode of The Simpsons, "All About Lisa", is influenced by this film. In the episode, Lisa becomes Krusty the Clown's assistant, eventually taking his place on television and receiving an entertainment award.[10]

Pedro Almodovar's 1999 Academy Award-winning Spanish language film, Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother), has elements similar to those found in All About Eve. The title of the film itself is an homage to the 1950 film. In the first scene, the character of Manuela and her son, Esteban, are watching a dubbed version of the movie on television when the film is introduced as "Eve Unveiled." Esteban comments that the film should be called "Todo Sobre Eve" ("All About Eve"). Later in the scene, he begins writing about his mother in his notebook and calls the piece "Todo sobre mi madre." Also in All About My Mother, Manuela replaces Nina Cruz as Stella for a night in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire, leading a furious Nina to accuse her of learning the part "just like Eve Harrington!"[citation needed]

In a season 3 episode of Gossip Girl, titled "Enough About Eve", Blair has a dream where she is Bette Davis in All About Eve.

In the fifth season of "L Word" a so-called fan becomes Jenny's assistant while she is directing a movie; later the fan blackmails the movie studio to letting her direct and she procedes to take over Jenny's life.

Thematic interpretations

One of All About Eve's possible underlying themes is that the norm of heterosexuality, specifically in the form of marriage, must be upheld, in contrast to the social threat posed by independent career women and especially homosexuals.[11] The nurturing familial relationships of Margo and Bill and of Karen and Lloyd contrast with the sterile means-to-an-end mentality of Eve and Addison, who some critics have stated are homosexual by inference[12] and whose behavior is antagonistic. Eve uses her physical femininity as a weapon to try to break up the marriages of both couples, and the extreme cynicism of Addison serves as a model of Eve's future. Homosexuality was often linked to communism during the Cold War,[citation needed] and critics have written about the film containing a subtle Cold War narrative. The subtlety is seen as primarily being due to Production Code restrictions on the depiction of homosexuals in the media during this time.[11][13] It has been noted that women, who had entered the workplace during World War II and had been the subject of propaganda such as Rosie the Riveter that promoted female agency, found themselves compelled by society to return to traditionally female roles, yielding disillusionment Betty Friedan referred to as the "problem that has no name".[14]

The homosexual as an emotionally bereft predator is a recurrent theme in American film. The documentary The Celluloid Closet (which was produced in part as a film) notes that there are numerous examples from American cinema of the Production Code period, as does American Cold War Culture, which cites it.[11][15] Despite what some critics have described as the film's homophobia,[11] it has long had a gay audience, likely due to its campy overtones (in part due to the casting of Davis) and its general sophistication. Davis, who long had a strong gay fan base, expressed support for gay men in her 1972 interview with The Advocate.[16][17][18]

Some critics have noted other primary themes in the film. Allmovie's review of the film by Rebecca Flint Marx notes the antagonism that existed between Broadway and Hollywood at the time, stating that the "script summoned into existence a whole array of painfully recognizable theatre types, from the aging, egomaniacal grand dame to the outwardly docile, inwardly scheming ingenue to the powerful critic who reeks of malignant charm."[19] Roger Ebert, in his online review, says Eve Harrington is "a universal type", and focuses on the aging actress plot line, comparing the film to Sunset Boulevard.[20] Similarly, Marc Lee's 2006 review of the film for The Daily Telegraph describes a subtext "into the darker corners of showbusiness, exposing its inherent ageism, especially when it comes to female stars."[21] Kathleen Woodward's 1999 book, Figuring Age: Women, Bodies, Generations (Theories of Contemporary Culture), also discusses themes that appeared in many of the "aging actress" films of the 1950s and 1960s, including All About Eve. She reasons that Margo has three options: "To continue to work, she can perform the role of a young woman, one she no longer seems that interested in. She can take up the position of the angry bitch, the drama queen who holds court (the deliberate camp that Sontag finds in this film). Or she can accept her culture's gendered discourse of aging which figures her as in her moment of fading. Margo ultimately chooses the latter option, accepting her position as one of loss."[22]

Notes

  1. ^ "America's Greatest Movies" AFI.com. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  2. ^ a b Staggs, Sam: All About "All About Eve". St Martin's Press, 2001. ISBN 0-312-27315-0
  3. ^ TCM Notes
  4. ^ Roger Ebert "All About Eve (1950)" Chicago Sun-Times (11 June 2000)
  5. ^ http://www.boxoffice.com/boxoffice_scr/boxoffice_dvd_result.asp?terms=12
  6. ^ "NY Times: All About Eve". NY Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/1546/All-About-Eve/awards. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  7. ^ "Festival de Cannes: All About Eve". festival-cannes.com. http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/archives/ficheFilm/id/4072/year/1951.html. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  8. ^ a b Ironically, Bette Davis played three roles that had been originated on Broadway by Tallulah Bankhead (in Dark Victory, Reflected Glory and The Little Foxes) — Bankhead and Davis were considered to be somewhat similar in style, with Davis a more disciplined performer who understood film better than Bankhead. Source: liner notes, All About Eve, Moving Finger LP MF002
  9. ^ "A New Sue Ann" Starpulse.com
  10. ^ The Simpsons on Fox TVGuide.com. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  11. ^ a b c d "American Cold War Culture", Ch. 2 – Gender and Sexuality – All about the Subversive Femme – Cold War Homophobia in All About Eve, Edinburgh University Press, 2005 ISBN 0748619232, 9780748619238
  12. ^ "unInvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability, A Star is Beaten, by Patricia White p. 202-12, Indiana University Press, 1999ISBN0253213452, 9780253213457
  13. ^ "Cold War Femme", Lesbian Visibility In ... All About Eve, by Robert Corber, GLQ Journal of Duke University, 2005 11(1):1-22; DOI:10.1215/10642684-11-1-1
  14. ^ What Happened To Rosie The Riveter?, Heather Hunt, University of Maryland, 1999
  15. ^ The Celluloid Closet,, Vito Russo, Harper & Row, 1981 ISBN 0060908718, 9780060908713
  16. ^ Hollywood's Monstrous Queen of Camp,, TimesOnline, Nov 2007
  17. ^ Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject, University of Michigan Press 1999, ISBN 0472067222
  18. ^ Dark Victory - The Life of Bette Davis, Macmillan, 2007, ISBN 0805075488
  19. ^ All About Eve review AllMovie.com, Rebecca Flint Marx. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  20. ^ "All About Eve (1950)", Great Movies by Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com, 6-11-2000.
  21. ^ "Must-have movies: All About Eve (1950)" The Daily Telegraph, Marc Lee, 7 July 2006. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  22. ^ Woodward, Kathleen M. Figuring Age: Women, Bodies, Generations (Theories of Contemporary Culture) Indiana University Press, 1999, p. 242. ISBN 0253334503.

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
All the King's Men
Academy Award for Best Picture
1950
Succeeded by
An American in Paris
Preceded by
Bicycle Thieves
BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source
1951
Succeeded by
La Ronde
Preceded by
n/a
Special Jury Prize, Cannes
1951
Succeeded by
Nous sommes tous des assassins

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

All About Eve is a 1950 film about an apparent ingenue who insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends to establish herself as an actress.

Written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, from the story The Wisdom of Eve, by Mary Orr.
It's all about women---and their men!
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.

Contents

Margo Channing

Margo Channing
  • Autograph fiends, they're not people. Those are little beasts that run around in packs like coyotes...They're nobody's fans. They're juvenile delinquent, they're mental defective, and nobody's audience. They never see a play or a movie even. They're never indoors long enough.
  • Suddenly, I've developed a big protective feeling for her. A lamb loose in our big stone jungle.
  • Funny business, a woman's career. The things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you'll need them again when you get back to being a woman.
  • Lloyd, I am not twenty-ish. I am not thirty-ish. Three months ago, I was forty years old. Forty. Four oh - That slipped out. I hadn't quite made up my mind to admit it. Now I suddenly feel as if I've taken all my clothes off.
  • Bill's thirty-two. He looks thirty-two. He looked it five years ago, he'll look it twenty years from now. I hate men.
  • [to Bill] This is my house, not a theater. In my house, you're a guest, not a director.
  • [reading Addison's column] And so my hat, which has lo these many seasons become more firmly rooted about my ears, is lifted to Miss Harrington. I am once more available for dancing in the streets and shouting from the housetops...Miss Harrington had much to tell and these columns shall report her faithfully about the lamentable practice in our theater of permitting, shall we say, mature actresses to continue playing roles requiring a youth and vigor which they retain but a dim memory...about the understandable reluctance on the part of our entrenched first ladies of the stage to encourage, shall we say, younger actresses about Miss Harrington's own long and supported struggle for opportunity.
  • [responding to Karen's disbelief] In this rat race, everybody's guilty till they're proved innocent!
  • The little witch must have sent out Indian runners, snatching critics out of bars and steam rooms and museums, or wherever they holed up. Well, she won't get away with it, nor will Addison De Witt and his poison pen. If Equity or my lawyer can't or won't do anything about it, I shall personally stuff that pathetic little lost lamb down Mr. De Witt's ugly throat.
  • Never have I been so happy...I'm forgiving tonight, even Eve, I forgive Eve...Do you know what I'm going to be?...A married lady...No more make believe off stage or on. Remember, Lloyd? I mean it now...I don't want to play Cora...It isn't the part. It's a great part in a fine play. But not for me anymore. Not for a four-square, upright, downright, forthright married lady...It means I finally got a life to live. I don't have to play parts I'm too old for, just because I've got nothing to do with my nights.
  • Nice speech, Eve. But I wouldn't worry too much about your heart. You can always put that award where your heart ought to be.
  • As it happens, there are particular aspects of my life to which I would like to maintain sole and exclusive rights and privileges.

Eve Harrington

Eve Harrington
  • I've seen every performance...I'd like anything Miss Channing played in...I think that part of Miss Channing's greatness lies in her ability to pick the best plays.
  • But somehow, acting and make believe began to fill up my life more and more. It got so I couldn't tell the real from the unreal. Except that the unreal seemed more real to me.
  • When you're a secretary in a brewery, it's pretty hard to make-believe you're anything else. Everything is beer.
  • And there were theaters in San Francisco. And then one night, Margo Channing came to play in Remembrance and I went to see it. Well, here I am.
  • If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights and wrapping you up.
  • I'll never forget this night as long as I live, and I'll never forget you for making it possible.
  • Lloyd Richards. He's going to leave Karen. We're going to be married...Lloyd loves me, I love him...I'm in love with Lloyd...Oh Addison, won't it be just perfect? Lloyd and I - there's no telling how far we can go. He'll write great plays for me, I'll make them great.


Addison DeWitt

Addison DeWitt
  • The Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement is perhaps unknown to you. It has been spared the sensational and commercial publicity that attends such questionable 'honors' as the Pulitzer Prize - and those awards presented annually by that film society. This is the dining hall of the Sarah Siddons Society. The occasion is its annual banquet and presentation of the highest honor our theater knows - the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement...The minor awards, as you can see, have already been presented. Minor awards are for such as the writer and director [playwright Lloyd Richards and director Bill Sampson are briefly viewed] since their function is merely to construct a tower so that the world can applaud a light which flashes on top of it. And no brighter light has ever dazzled the eye than Eve Harrington. Eve. But more of Eve later, all about Eve, in fact.
  • To those of you who do not read, attend the theater, listen to unsponsored radio programs or know anything of the world in which you live - it is perhaps necessary to introduce myself. My name is Addison De Witt. My native habitat is the theater. In it, I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theater.
  • She is the wife of a playwright, therefore of the theater by marriage. Nothing in her background or breeding should have brought her any closer to the stage than Row E, Center. However, during her senior year at Radcliffe, Lloyd Richards lectured on the drama. The following year, Karen became Mrs. Lloyd Richards.
  • There are in general two types of theatrical producers. One has a great many wealthier friends who will risk a tax deductible loss. This type is interested in art. The other is one to whom each production means potential ruin or fortune. This type is out to make a buck.
  • Margo Channing is a Star of the Theater. She made her first stage appearance, at the age of four, in Midsummer Night's Dream. She played a fairy and entered - quite unexpectedly - stark naked. She has been a Star ever since. Margo is a great Star. A true star. She never was or will be anything less or anything else.
  • Eve. Eve the Golden Girl, the Cover Girl, the Girl Next Door, the Girl on the Moon. Time has been good to Eve. Life goes where she goes. She's the profiled, covered, revealed, reported. What she eats and what she wears and whom she knows and where she was, and when and where she's going. Eve. You all know All About Eve. What can there be to know that you don't know?
  • Dear Margo. You were an unforgettable Peter Pan. You must play it again soon.
  • Every now and then some elder statesman of the theater or cinema assures the public that actors and actresses are just plain folks. Ignoring the fact that their greatest attraction to the public is their complete lack of resemblance to normal human beings.
  • I have lived in the theater as a Trappist monk lives in his faith. I have no other world; no other life - and once in a great while, I experience that moment of revelation for which all true believers wait and pray. You were one. Jeanne Eagels another...there are others, three or four. Eve Harrington will be among them.
  • We all have abnormality in common. We're a breed apart from the rest of humanity, we theatre folk; We are the original displaced personalities.
  • [confronting Eve] I had lunch with Karen not three hours ago. As always with women who try to find out things, she told more than she learned. Now do you want to change your story about Lloyd beating at your door the other night? ... That I should want you at all suddenly strikes me as the height of improbability, but that, in itself, is probably the reason. You're an improbable person, Eve, and so am I. We have that in common. Also a contempt for humanity, an inability to love and be loved, insatiable ambition - and talent. We deserve each other...and you realize and you agree how completely you belong to me?

Karen Richards

Karen Richards
  • Then stop being a star. And stop treating your guests as your supporting cast...It's about time Margo realized that what's attractive on stage need not necessarily be attractive off.
  • [to Eve, who is upset] The reason is Margo, and don't try to figure it out. Einstein couldn't.
  • She can play Peck's Bad Boy all she wants and who's to stop her? Who's to give her that boot in the rear she needs and deserves?
  • Newton, they say, thought of gravity by getting hit on the head by an apple. And the man who invented the steam engine - he was watching a tea kettle. Not me. My big idea came to me just sitting on a couch. That boot in the rear to Margo. Heaven knows she had one coming. From me, from Lloyd, from Eve, Bill, Max, and so on. We'd all felt those size 5's of hers often enough. But how? The answer was buzzing around me like a fly. I had it. But I let it go. Screaming and calling names is one thing, but this could mean...Why not? Why, I said to myself, not? It would all seem perfectly legitimate. And there were only two people in the world who would know. Also, the boot would land where it would do the most good for all concerned. And after all, it was no more than a perfectly harmless joke that Margo herself would be the first to enjoy. And no reason why she shouldn't be told about it - in time.
  • Eve would ask Abbott to give her Costello.
  • Lloyd never got around somehow to asking whether it was all right with me for Eve to play Cora. Bill, oddly enough, refused to direct the play at first - with Eve in it. Lloyd and Max finally won him over. Margo never came to rehearsal. Too much to do around the house, she said. I'd never known Bill and Lloyd to fight as bitterly and often and always over some business for Eve, or a move, or the way she read a speech. But then I'd never known Lloyd to meddle as much with Bill's directing, as far as it affected Eve, that is. Somehow Eve kept them going. Bill stuck it out. Lloyd seemed happy. And I thought it might be best if I skipped rehearsals from then on. It seemed to me I had known always that it would happen, and here it was. I felt helpless, that helplessness you feel when you have no talent to offer - outside of loving your husband. How could I compete? Everything Lloyd loved about me, he had gotten used to long ago.

Lloyd Richards

Lloyd Richards
  • [about Eve] I like that girl, that quality of quiet graciousness.
  • It's Addison from start to finish. It drips with his brand of venom. Taking advantage of a kid like that, twisting her words, making her say what he wanted her to say.
  • There are very few moments in life as good as this. Let's remember it. To each of us and all of us, never have we been more close, may we never be farther apart.
  • The atmosphere is very MacBeth-ish...what has, or is about to, happen?

Birdie Coonan

  • I haven't got a union. I'm slave labor.
  • I'll tell ya how, like, like she's studyin' you, like you was a play or a book or a set of blueprints. How you walk, talk, eat, think, sleep.
  • The bed looks like a dead animal act.
MARGO: (graciously) And this is my good friend and companion, Miss Birdie Coonan.
BIRDIE: Oh, brother.
MARGO: Miss Coonan...
LLOYD: (to Birdie) Oh brother what?
BIRDIE: When she gets like this... all of a sudden she's playin' Hamlet's mother...
MARGO: I'm quite sure you must have things to do in the bathroom, Birdie dear.
BIRDIE: If I haven't, I'll find something 'til you get normal.
MARGO: Dear Birdie. Won't you sit down, Miss Worthington?
KAREN: Harrington.
MARGO: Oh, I'm so sorry... Harrington. Won't you sit down?
EVE: Thank you.
MARGO: There are some human experiences, Birdie, that do not take place in a vaudeville house - and that even a fifth-rate vaudevillian should understand and respect! (to Eve) I want to apologize for Birdie's-
BIRDIE: You don't have to apologize for me! (to Eve) I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings, kid. It's just my way of talkin'...
EVE: You didn't hurt my feelings, Miss Coonan...
BIRDIE: Call me Birdie. (to Margo) And as for bein' fifth-rate - I closed the first half for eleven years an' you know it!
BIRDIE: You all put together?
MARGO: My back's open. Did the extra help get here?
BIRDIE: There's some loose characters dressed like maids and butlers. Who'd you call - the William Morris Agency?
MARGO: You're not being funny, I could get actors for less. What about the food?
BIRDIE: The caterer had to go back for the hors d'oeuvres-(she zips up Margo’s dress and sweeps her shoulders with a flourish). Et voila.
MARGO: That French ventriloquist taught you a lot, didn't he?
BIRDIE: There was nothing he didn't know. There's a message from the bartender. Does Miss Channing know we ordered domestic gin by mistake?
MARGO: The only thing I ordered by mistake is the guests. They're domestic, too, and they don't care what they drink as long as it burns...
BIRDIE: I haven't got a union. I'm slave labor.
MARGO: Well?
BIRDIE: But the wardrobe women have got one. And next to a tenor, a wardrobe woman is the touchiest thing in show business-
MARGO: Oh-oh.
BIRDIE: She's got two things to do - carry clothes an' press 'em wrong - an' just let anybody else muscle in...

Others

Bill Sampson
  • Bill Sampson: Zanuck is impatient. He wants me, he needs me.
  • Bill Sampson: The theatah, the theatAh - what book of rules says the theater exists only within some ugly buildings crowded into one square mile of New York City? Or London, Paris, or Vienna? Listen, junior. And learn. Want to know what the theater is? A flea circus. Also opera. Also rodeos, carnivals, ballets, Indian tribal dances, Punch and Judy, a one-man band - all theater. Wherever there's magic and make-believe and an audience - there's theater. Donald Duck, Ibsen, and the Lone Ranger. Sarah Bernhardt and Poodles Hanneford, Lunt and Fontanne, Betty Grable, Rex the Wild Horse, Eleanora Duse - they're all theater. You don't understand them, you don't like them all - why should you? The theater's for everybody - you included, but not exclusively - so don't approve or disapprove. It may not be your theater, but it's theater for somebody, somewhere...It's just that there's so much bourgeois in this ivory green room they call the theater. Sometimes it gets up around my chin.
  • Max Fabian: She loves me like a father. Also, she's loaded.
  • Old Actor: [about Eve] We know her humility, her devotion, her loyalty to her art, her love, her deep and abiding love for us, for what we are and what we do, the theater. She has had one wish, one prayer, one dream - to belong to us. Tonight, her dream has come true. And henceforth, we shall dream the same of her.

Dialogue

Birdie: What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end.
Margo: There are some human experiences, Birdie, that do not take place in a vaudeville house - and that even a fifth-rate vaudevillian should understand and respect!

Margo: Bill, don't get stuck on some glamour-puss.
Bill: I'll try.
Margo: You're not much of a bargain, you know. You're conceited, and thoughtless and messy.
Bill: Well, everybody can't be Gregory Peck.
Margo: You're a set-up for some gorgeous, wide-eyed young bait.
Bill: How childish are you going to get before you stop it?
Margo: I don't want to be childish. I'll settle for a few years.
Bill: Then cut that out right now.
Margo: Am I going to lose you, Bill? Am I?
Bill: As of this moment, you're six years old.

Margo: You bought the new girdle a size smaller. I can feel it.
Birdie: Somethin' maybe grew a size larger.

Bill: We started talking. She wanted to know about Hollywood. She seemed so interested.
Margo: She's a girl of so many interests.
Bill: A pretty rare quality these days.
Margo: A girl of so many rare qualities.
Bill: So she seems.
Margo: So you've pointed out so often. So many qualities so often. Her loyalty, efficiency, devotion, warmth, and affection, and so young. So young and so fair.
Bill: I can't believe you're making this up...Of course it's funny. This is all too laughable to be anything else. You know what I feel about this age obsession of yours. And now this ridiculous attempt to whip yourself up into a jealous froth because I spent ten minutes with a stage-struck kid.
Margo: Twenty.
Bill: Thirty minutes, forty minutes, what of it?
Margo: Stage-struck kid! She's a young lady of quality. And I'll have you know I'm fed up with both the young lady and her qualities. Studying me as if I were a play or a blueprint, how I walk, talk, think, act, sleep.
Bill: Now, how can you take offense at a kid trying in every way to be as much like her ideal as possible?
Margo: Stop calling her a kid. As it happens, there are particular aspects of my life to which I would like to maintain sole and exclusive rights and privileges.
Bill: For instance what?
Margo: For instance you.
Bill: This is my cue to take you in my arms and reassure you. But I'm not going to. I'm too mad...
Margo: [interrupting] Guilty.
Bill: ...Mad! Darling, there are certain characteristics for which you are famous onstage and off. I love you for some of them in spite of others. I haven't let those become too important. They're part of your equipment for getting along in what is laughingly called our environment. You have to keep your teeth sharp, all right. But I will not have you sharpen them on me - or on Eve.
Margo: What about her teeth? What about her fangs?
Bill: She hasn't cut them yet, and you know it! So when you start judging an idealistic, dreamy-eyed kid by the barroom benzedrine standards of this megalomaniac society, I won't have it. Eve Harrington has never by a word, a look, or a suggestion indicated anything to me but her adoration for you and her happiness at our being in love. And to intimate anything else doesn't spell jealousy to me. It spells out paranoiac insecurity that you should be ashamed of.
Margo: Cut! Brilliant! What happens in the next reel? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pit?

Karen: Margo, nothing you've ever done has made me as happy as your taking Eve in.
Margo: I'm so happy you're happy.

Eve: I'm afraid Mr. De Witt would find me boring before too long.
Miss Casswell: You won't bore him, honey. You won't even get a chance to talk.

De Witt: Do you see that man? That's Max Fabian, the producer. Now go and do yourself some good.
Miss Casswell: Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits?
De Witt: Because that's what they are. Now go and make him happy.

Bill: Many of your guests have been wondering when they may be permitted to view the body. Where has it been laid out?
Margo: It hasn't been laid out. We haven't finished with the embalming. As a matter of fact, you're looking at it - the remains of Margo Channing, sitting up. It is my last wish to be buried sitting up.
Bill: Wouldn't it be more natural for you to be taking a bow?

Miss Casswell: Now there's something a girl could make sacrifices for.
Bill: And probably has.
Miss Casswell: Sable.
Max Fabian: Sable? Did she say sable or Gable?
Miss Casswell: Either one.

De Witt: We're a breed apart from the rest of humanity, we theater folk. We are the original displaced personalities.
Miss Casswell: [interrupting] Oh, waiter!
De Witt: That isn't a waiter, my dear. That's a butler.
Miss Casswell: Well, I can't yell, 'Oh, butler!' can I? Maybe somebody's name is Butler.
De Witt: You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point.
Miss Casswell: I don't want to make trouble. All I want is a drink.
Max: Leave it to me. I'll get you one.
Miss Caswell: [smiling] Thank you, Mr. Fabian.
De Witt: Well done. I can see your career rising in the east like the sun.

Bill: To be a good actor or actress or anything else in the theatre means wanting to be that more than anything else in the world.
Eve: [softly] Yes, yes it does.
Bill: It means concentration of desire or ambition, and sacrifice such as no other profession demands. And I'll agree that the man or woman who accepts those terms can't be ordinary, can't be just someone. To give so much for almost always so little.
Eve: So little. So little, did you say? Why, if there's nothing else, there's applause. I've listened backstage to people applaud. It's like, like waves of love coming over the footlights and wrapping you up. Imagine. To know, every night, that different hundreds of people love you. They smile, and their eyes shine. You've pleased them. They want you. You belong. Just that alone is worth anything.

Margo: [to Eve] And please stop acting as if I were the Queen-Mother.
Eve: I'm sorry, I didn't...
Bill: Outside of a beehive, Margo, your behavior would hardly be considered either queenly or motherly.
Margo: You're in a beehive, pal. Didn't you know? We're all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey, day and night. [To Eve] Aren't we, honey?
Karen: Margo, really.
Margo: Please don't play governess, Karen. I haven't your unyielding good taste. I wish I could have gone to Radcliffe too, but father wouldn't hear of it. He needed help behind the notions counter. I'm being rude now, aren't I? Or should I say, ain't I?
De Witt: You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent.
Lloyd: How about calling it a night?
Margo: And you, posing as a playwright, a situation pregnant with possibilities and all you can think of is everybody go to sleep.

Margo: [to Bill] You be host. It's your party. Happy birthday, welcome home. And we who are about to die salute you.
De Witt: Too bad, we're gonna miss the third act. They're gonna play it off stage.

De Witt: [about Eve] It wasn't a reading. It was a performance. Brilliant, vivid, something made of music and fire.
Margo: How nice.
De Witt: In time, she'll be what you are.
Margo: A mass of music and fire.

Miss Casswell: Now what?
De Witt: Your next move, it seems to me, should be towards television.
Miss Casswell: Tell me this. Do they have auditions for television?
De Witt: That's, uh, all television is, my dear. Nothing but auditions.

Margo: All playwrights should be dead for three hundred years!
Lloyd: That would solve none of their problems, because actresses never die. The stars never die and never change.
Margo: You may change this star any time you want for a new and fresh and exciting one, fully equipped with fire and music. Anytime you want, starting with tonight's performance....
Lloyd: I shall never understand the weird process by which a body with a voice suddenly fancies itself as a mind. Just when exactly does an actress decide they're her words she's saying and her thoughts she's expressing?
Margo: Usually at the point when she has to rewrite and rethink them to keep the audience from leaving the theater.
Lloyd: It's about time the piano realized it has not written the concerto!
Margo: And you, I take it, are the Paderewski who plays his concerto on me, the piano?

Bill: The gong rang, the fight's over. Calm down.
Margo: I will not calm down.
Bill: Don't calm down.
Margo: You're being terribly tolerant, aren't you?
Bill: I'm trying terribly hard.
Margo: But you needn't be. I will not be tolerated and I will not be plotted against.
Bill: Here we go.
Margo: Such nonsense. What do you all take me for - Little Nell from the country? Been my understudy for over a week without my knowing it, carefully hidden no doubt.
Bill: I am sick and tired of these paranoiac outbursts...For the last time, I'll tell it to you. You've got to stop hurting yourself and me and the two of us by these paranoiac tantrums...You're a beautiful and an intelligent woman, and a great actress. A great actress at the peak of her career. You have every reason for happiness...but due to some strange, uncontrollable, unconscious drive, you permit the slightest action of...a kid like Eve to turn you into an hysterical, screaming harpy. Now, once and for all, stop it!
Margo: I'll admit I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut.

Margo: So many people know me. I wish I did. I wish someone would tell me about me.
Karen: You're Margo, just Margo.
Margo: And what is that besides something spelled out in lightbulbs, I mean, besides something called a temperament which consists mostly of swooping about on a broomstick and screaming at the top of my voice. Infants behave the way I do, you know. They carry on and misbehave. They'd get drunk if they knew how, when they can't have what they want. When they feel unwanted or insecure or unloved.

Margo: Bill's in love with Margo Channing. He's fought with her, worked with her, and loved her. But ten years from now, Margo Channing will have ceased to exist. And what's left will be - what?
Karen: Margo, Bill is all of eight years younger than you.
Margo: Those years stretch as the years go on. I've seen it happen too often.
Karen: Not to you, not to Bill.
Margo: Isn't that what they always say?...About Eve, I've acted pretty disgracefully toward her too.
Karen: Well,...
Margo: Don't fumble for excuses, not here and now with my hair down. At best, let's say I've been oversensitive to her...to the fact that she's so young, so feminine and so helpless, too so many things I want to be for Bill. Funny business, a woman's career. The things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you'll need them again when you get back to being a woman. There's one career all females have in common - whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we've got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we've had or wanted. And, in the last analysis, nothing is any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed - and there he is. Without that, you're not a woman. You're something with a French provincial office or a - a book full of clippings, but you're not a woman. Slow curtain. The End.

Bill: ...you did it. With work and patience, you'll be a good actress if that's what you want to be.
Eve: [purring] Is that what you want me to be?
Bill: I'm talking about you and what you want.
Eve: So am I.
Bill: What have I got to do with it?
Eve: Everything.
Bill: Names I've been called, but never Svengali. Good luck.
Eve: Don't run away, Bill.
Bill: From what would I be running?
Eve: You're always after truth on the stage. What about off?
Bill: I'm for it.
Eve: Then face it. I have. Ever since that first night here in this dressing room.
Bill: When I told you what every young actress should know?
Eve: When you told me that whatever I became it would be because of you...
Bill: Makeup's a little heavy.
Eve: ...and for you.
Bill: You're quite a girl.
Eve: You think?
Bill: I'm in love with Margo. Hadn't you heard?
Eve: You hear all kinds of things.
Bill: I'm only human, rumors to the contrary. And I'm as curious as the next man.
Eve: Find out.
Bill: The only thing - what I go after, I want to go after. I don't want it to come after me. Don't cry. Just score it as an incomplete forward pass.

De Witt: But if I may make a suggestion...I think the time has come for you to shed some of your humility. It is just as false not to blow your horn at all as it is to blow it too loudly.
Eve: I don't think I have anything to sound off about.
De Witt: We all come into this world with our little egos, equipped with individual horns. Now if we don't blow them, who else will?
Eve: Even so, one pretty good performance by an understudy - it'll be forgotten by tomorrow.
De Witt: It needn't be.

Eve: You take charge.
De Witt: I believe I will.

Lloyd: For once to write something and have it realized completely. For once not to compromise.
Karen: Lloyd Richards! You are not to consider giving that contemptible little worm the part of Cora.
Lloyd: Now just a minute.
Karen: Margo Channing's not been exactly a compromise all these years. Why, half the playwrights in the world would give their shirts for that particular compromise.
Lloyd: Now just a minute.
Karen: It strikes me that Eve's disloyalty and ingratitude must be contagious.
Lloyd: All this fuss and hysteria because an impulsive kid got carried away by excitement and the conniving of a professional manure-slinger named De Witt. She apologized, didn't she?
Karen: On her knees, I've no doubt. Very touching. Very Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Lloyd: That bitter cynicism of yours is something you've acquired since you left Radcliffe.
Karen: That cynicism you refer to I acquired the day I discovered I was different from little boys.

Bill: The so-called art of acting is not one for which I have a particularly-high regard...But you may quote me as follows. Quote: 'Tonight, Miss Margo Channing gave a performance in your cockamamie play the like of which I have never seen before and expect rarely to see again.' Unquote....I shall propose the toast. Without wit. With all my heart. To Margo. To my bride-to-be.
Margo: Glory, Hallelujah.

Margo: Encore du champagne.
Waiter: More champagne, Miss Channing?
Margo: That's what I said, bub.

Eve: If you told him (Lloyd) so, he'd give me the part. He said he would...It's my part now...Cora is my part. You've got to tell Lloyd it's for me...Addison wants me to play it...Addison knows how Margo happened to miss that performance, how I happened to know she'd miss it in time to call him and notify every paper in town...If I play Cora, Addison will never tell what happened, in or out of print. A simple exchange of favors. I'm so happy I can do something for you at long last. Your friendship with Margo - your deep, close friendship. What would happen to it, do you think, if she knew the cheap trick you played on her for my benefit? You and Lloyd. How long, even in the theater, before people forgot what happened and trusted you again? No, it would be so much easier for everyone concerned if I would play Cora. So much better theater too.
Karen: You'd do all that just for a part in a play?
Eve: I'd do much more for a part that good.

De Witt: And tomorrow morning, you will have won your beachhead on the shores of immortality.
Eve: Stop rehearsing your column. Isn't it strange, Addison? I thought I'd be panic-stricken, want to run away or something. Instead, I can't wait for tonight to come, to come and go.
De Witt: Are you that sure of tomorrow?
Eve: Aren't you?
De Witt: Frankly, yes.
Eve: It will be a night to remember. It will bring me everything I've ever wanted. The end of an old road. The beginning of a new one.
De Witt: All paved with diamonds and gold?
Eve: You know me better than that.
De Witt: It's paved with what, then?
Eve: Stars...Plenty of time for a nice long nap. We rehearsed most of last night.
De Witt: You could sleep now, couldn't you?
Eve: Why not?
De Witt: The mark of a true killer. Sleep tight, rest easy, and come out fighting.
Eve: Why did you call me a killer?
De Witt: Oh, did I say killer? I meant champion. I get my boxing terms mixed.

Eve: The setting wasn't romantic, but Lloyd was. He woke me up at three o'clock in the morning banging on my door. He couldn't sleep, he said. He'd left Karen. Couldn't go on with the play or anything else until I promised to marry him. We sat and talked until it was light. He never went home.
De Witt: You 'sat and talked' until it was light?
Eve: We 'sat and talked' Addison. I want a run-of-the-play contract.
De Witt: There never was and there never will be another like you...[rising] What do you take me for?
Eve: I don't know that I'd take you for anything.
De Witt: Is it possible, even conceivable, that you've confused me with that gang of backward children you play tricks on? That you have the same contempt for me as you have for them?...Look closely, Eve. It's time you did. I am Addison De Witt. I am nobody's fool. Least of all - yours.
Eve: I never intended you to be.
De Witt: Yes you did and you still do...It's important right now that we talk - killer to killer.
Eve: Champion to champion.
De Witt: Not with me, you're no champion. You're stepping way up in class.
Eve: Addison, will you please say what you have to say, plainly and distinctly, and then get out so I can take my nap.
De Witt: Very well. Plainly and distinctly...Lloyd may leave Karen, but he will not leave Karen for you.
Eve: What do you mean by that?
De Witt: More plainly and more distinctly? I have not come to New Haven to see the play, discuss your dreams, or pull the ivy from the walls of Yale. I've come here to tell you that you will not marry Lloyd or anyone else for that matter because I will not permit it.
Eve: What have you got to do with it?
De Witt: Everything, because after tonight, you will belong to me.
Eve: [laughs] Belong to you? That sounds medieval, something out of an old melodrama.
[De Witt slaps her sharply across the face]
De Witt: Now remember as long as you live, never to laugh at me. At anything or anyone else, but never at me.

De Witt: San Francisco has no Shubert Theater. You've never been to San Francisco! That was a stupid lie, easy to expose, not worthy of you.
Eve: I had to get in to meet Margo! I had to say something, be somebody, make her like me!

Phoebe: I call myself Phoebe.
De Witt: And why not? Tell me, Phoebe, do you want someday to have an award like that of your own?
Phoebe: More than anything else in the world.
De Witt: Then you must ask Miss Harrington how to get one. Miss Harrington knows all about it.

Cast

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