Friday, May 5, 2006

“All About Eve” (1950) was a Film That Oscar Wilde Could Have Written

had he been a Hollywood scripter. You know the plot: as Broadway legend Margo Channing (Bette Davis) holds court in her dressing room after a triumph, the playwright’s wife, Karen (Celeste Holm) sweeps in with a docile little woman named Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) who breaks their hearts about having a husband lost in the war and Margo’s performances give her hope. Margo takes her on as her assistant although her maid Birdie (Thelma Ritter) believes Eve isn’t all that innocent. Margo’s friend Phoebe (Barbara Bates) agrees. Eve maneuvers the playwright’s wife for an audition to be Margo’s understudy and in a competition wins the job. Margo suspects Eve is aiming to gut her but Margo’s boy friend and director (Gary Merrill) tells her she’s paranoid and Margo accuses him of falling for “Eve-Eve evil!” and they break up. Karen plots an occasion when Eve replaces Margo one night and a prominent critic, Addison DeWitt (George Sanders) is on hand and gives her a rare review. Triumphant, Eve wins the Sarah Siddons award and is off to Hollywood but not before she confronts another Eve named Claudia Casswell who’s playing the same trick on her.

Three questions for movie trivia addicts. First, what was Margo Channing’s famous line when she decides to wage war on Eve Harrington, a line that has made movie history? The line was: what? You’ll probably get it—but wait…

Second, the actress who played Claudia Casswell moved from earlier walk-ons to bigger and bigger roles and ultimately super-stardom. Who was she? She was: You’ll probably get this, too—but wait…

…and this is for the Oscar in movie trivia-dom—three people in the cast ultimately committed suicide in real life. Who were they? (Boy, you can probably name two but three is tough). They were—who?

Back to literature after this.

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