Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All About Eve

All About Eve, winner of the Oscar for Best Picture and recipient of 80 million acting nominations, is one of those great Hollywood movies about Hollywood. Well, actually, it's more about Broadway than Hollywood. But if you replace the dialogue about staging with dialogue about filming you can hardly tell the difference, and enough of the characters spend time in Hollywood anyway. It's sort of like Sunset Boulevard, which came out the same year, in reverse. One of the main characters is an aging star, though in Boulevard she psychotically draws a young writer into her web while in this film she's the target of obsession by a younger actress. The film opens with an acting award being presented to a girl named Eve Harrington, while a few in the audience don't look too happy to see her win. The story then jumps back in time to show how they got to this point. I wonder how much different the story would have been if they didn't reveal that Eve really wanted to be an actress right in the opening, but she presents herself as merely a big fan of Margo Channing, the previously mentioned aging star, and is introduced to her backstage by a friend. Eve ingratiates herself with their circle, but over time it becomes clear that she's not just the dedicated admirer she presents herself as.

There's some twists and turns as we learn how about Eve is genuine and how much she's really planning ahead to get to whatever her goal is. The script is really excellent telling a story that could have come off silly in a great way, and the dialogue is top notch. The back and forth and drama between characters is just great, and the use of multiple perspectives for the narration gives it something extra. The cast is great as well, with more outstanding characters than most movies can reasonably support in the time allotted. The most famous person in the whole movie though is a young Marilyn Monroe, who shows up for one scene to be a young Marilyn Monroe. There's usually something new going on, although I have to admit feeling the movie ended dragging a bit until the fairly brilliant ending. There's not much else to say about the film really, I can't compare anything to any work by anyone involved and it's basically just a well made, entertaining movie. The one thing that didn't work was when they used rear projection or something to film an outdoor walking scene and it looks unbelievably terrible. Like, the background is shaking and the characters aren't, and they are visibly walking in place. Otherwise, it's totally watchable today.

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