Classic Movie Countdown: Best Picture # 6 — All About Eve (1960)

6. All About Eve (1960)

Other Nominated Films:
Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, King Solomon’s Mines, Sunset Boulevard

14 Academy Award nominations. Four female acting nominations. #28 ranking on AFI’s Top 100 films. One of the first 50 films to be registered into the U.S. National Film Registry. It’s safe to say that All About Eve is one of the greatest films to ever hit the silver screen. Based on the short story The Wisdom of Eve, by Mary Orr, All About Eve begins with an awards dinner celebrating Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), one of Broadway’s brightest new stars. Attending the event is theater critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) who recounts, in a voiceover, his interpretation of how Eve rose to stardom as quickly as she did. A year earlier, the biggest star on Broadway was Margot Channing (Bette Davis). On the night of one of her performances, Margo’s close friend Karen Richards (Celeste Holm) meets Eve Harrington in the alley outside of the theater. Karen recognizes Eve since Eve has waited in that alley many nights trying to catch a glimpse of her idol (Margo) leaving the theater. Karen takes Eve backstage to meet Margo, and at that time Eve also meets Margo’s entourage — Celeste’s husband and the play’s author Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe); Margo’s boyfriend Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill) who is also a director; and Margo’s maid Birdie (Thelma Ritter).  Eve gushes on about how she’s followed Margo’s last theatrical tour and then goes on to tell about the difficult life she’s led being an orphan and losing her husband in the war. Margo takes an immediate liking to Eve and hires her as her assistant. From this point on, we witness some of the greatest acting of all time, as well as one of the most ruthless on-screen betrayals in a long time. In my opinion, All About Eve was way ahead of its time. I plan on finding and reading the script at some point because the dialogue is some of the wittiest I’ve heard in any movie. The film portrays the entertainment industry as brutal; one day you’re on top, the next day someone younger and better looking steals the spotlight from you and you are forgotten. It all depends on who has the more driving ambition, and if you can’t keep up, you’re going to get knocked out of the way. Nominated for 14 Academy Awards, All About Eve held the record for most nominations of any film until James Cameron released one of the most expensive melodramas in history, Titanic. To this day, All About Eve is the only film to receive four female acting nominations (Davis and Baxter as Best Actress, Holm and Ritter as Best Supporting Actress). All About Eve also brought us one of the earlier important roles for a certain young up-and-coming actress who would forever change the movie industry — Marilyn Monroe. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Sunset Boulevard, which was the main competition for All About Eve. Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, exceeded only by All About Eve.

 

Nominated for 14 Oscars, Winner of 6
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - George Sanders (WON)
Best Costume Design, Black-and-White - Edith Head, Charles Le Maire (WON)
Best Director - Joseph K. Mankiewicz (WON)
Best Picture - 20th Century Fox (WON)
Best Sound, Recording - 20th Century-Fox Sound Dept. (WON)
Best Writing, Screenplay - Joseph K. Mankiewicz (WON)
Best Actress in a Leading Role - Anne Baxter
Best Actress in a Leading Role - Bette Davis
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Celeste Holm
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Thelma Ritter
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Black-and-White - Lyle R. Wheeler, George W. Davis, Thomas Little, Walter M. Scott
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White - Milton R. Krasner
Best Film Editing - Barbara McLean
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture - Alfred Newman

Margo Channing: Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!

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