All About Eve

Infobox Film
name = All About Eve

iamge_size = 215px
caption = 1967 US re-release film poster
director = Joseph L. Mankiewicz
writer = Joseph L. Mankiewicz
starring = Bette Davis
Anne Baxter
George Sanders
Celeste Holm
producer = Darryl F. Zanuck
music = Alfred Newman
cinematography = Milton R. Krasner
editing = Barbara McLean
distributor = 20th Century Fox
released = October 13 fy|1950
"(NYC premiere)"
runtime = 138 minutes
language = English
country = FilmUS
budget =
gross =
imdb_id = 0042192

"All About Eve" is a fy|1950 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 matched only by 1997's "Titanic") and won six, including Best Picture. Widely regarded as a classic in cinema history, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, and appeared at #16 on AFI's list of the 100 best American films.


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, she encounters a young woman named Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). Eve claims to be her biggest fan, and an aspiring actress from San Francisco, but gradually the film reveals that she is a scheming and duplicitous woman who plans to take from Margo everything she holds dear: her lover (Gary Merrill), her friends (Celeste Holm and Hugh Marlowe), and her stage career and fame.

Eve begins working to supplant Margo, scheming to become her understudy and taking advantage when Margo is unfairly prevented from making a performance, so that she herself can step in, performing to an audience full of critics. When this fails to jump-start her career, she blackmails her way into playing the next role Margo had been promised, unaware that Margo herself, unhappy at playing roles that are now too young for her, has decided not to do it anyway.

Eve, now a Broadway star, is presented with an award for her performance in that role. Afterwards, she encounters an apparently besotted young fan who had sneaked into her apartment – and the cycle begins again.



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." Staggs, Sam: "All About "All About Eve". St Martin's Press, 2001. ISBN 0-312-27315-0

Casting and characters

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

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.

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.

Cast list

*Bette Davis as Margo Channing
*Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington
*George Sanders as Addison DeWitt
*Celeste Holm as Karen Richards
*Gary Merrill as Bill Simpson
*Hugh Marlowe as Lloyd Richards
*Gregory Ratoff as Max Fabian
*Barbara Bates as Phoebe
*Marilyn Monroe as Miss Caswell
*Thelma Ritter as Birdie


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 Blvd.," 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". [Roger Ebert [ "All About Eve (1950)"] "Chicago Sun-Times" (11 June 2000)] A collection of reviews from the film's release are stored on the website, and "All About Eve" has garnered 100% positive reviews there, making it "Certified fresh." "" 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." []


Academy Awards (United States)

*Best Picture - 20th Century-Fox (Darryl F. Zanuck, producer)
*Best Supporting Actor - George Sanders
*Best Costume Design for a Black-and-White film - Edith Head and Charles Le Maire
*Best Director - Joseph L. Mankiewicz
*Best Writing, Screenplay - Joseph L. Mankiewicz
*Best Sound Recording - Thomas T. Moulton
*Nominated: Best Leading Actress - Anne Baxter
*Nominated: Best Leading Actress - Bette Davis
*Nominated: Best Supporting Actress - Celeste Holm
*Nominated: Best Supporting Actress - Thelma Ritter
*Nominated: Best Set Direction for a Black-and-White film - George W. Davis, Thomas Little, Walter M. Scott, and Lyle R. Wheeler
*Nominated: Best Cinematography for a Black-and-White film - Milton R. Krassner
*Nominated: Best Film Editing - Barbara McLean
*Nominated: Best Music Score - Alfred Newman

Golden Globe Awards (United States)

*Best Motion Picture Screenplay - Joseph L. Mankiewicz
*Nominated: Best Drama Motion Picture - Darryl F. Zanuck, producer
*Nominated: Best Drama Motion Picture Actress - Bette Davis
*Nominated: Best Motion Picture Director - Joseph L. Mankiewicz
*Nominated: Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture - George Sanders
*Nominated: Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture - Thelma Ritter

NY Film Critics Circle Awards (United States)

*Best Motion Picture - Darryl F. Zanuck
*Best Director - Joseph L. Mankiewicz
*Best Actress - Bette Davis

DGA Awards (United States)

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

Cannes Film Festival (France)

*Best Actress Prize - Bette Davis
*Jury Special Prize - Joseph L. Mankiewicz
*Nominated: Grand Prize of the Festival - Joseph L. Mankiewicz

=BAFTA (United Kingdom)=

*Best Film from any Source - Darryl F. Zanuck

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

*1998 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies #16
*2003 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains
** Eve Harrington, villain #23
*2005 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:
**"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night" #9
*2007 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) #28

arah 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, Celeste Holm.


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. [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] 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. [liner notes, "All About Eve," Moving Finger LP MF002]

Somewhat more famously, in 1970 the film was made into 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 won the Tony Award for Best Musical that season. It ran for four previews and 896 performances at the Palace Theatre on Broadway.

The plot of the film has been used numerous times (frequently as an outright homage to the film), perhaps the most 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, 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.) [ [ "A New Sue Ann"] ]

Memorable quotes

Fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy night.:"Margo Channing" (Bette Davis)

This beats all world's records for running, standing or jumping gall!:"Karen Richards" (Celeste Holm)

If nothing else, there's applause. It's like - like waves of love coming over the footlights and wrapping you up.:"Eve Harrington" (Anne Baxter)

It's about time the piano realized that it has not written the concerto.:"Lloyd Richards" (Hugh Marlowe)

Don't cry. Just score it as an incomplete forward pass.:"Bill Sampson" (Gary Merrill)

We all have abnormality in common. We're a breed apart from the rest of humanity, we theatre folk; We are the original displaced personalties.:"Addison DeWitt" (George Sanders)

Do you want an argument or an answer?:"Birdie" (Thelma Ritter)

You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point.:"Addison DeWitt"

The atmosphere is very MacBeth-ish...what has, or is about to, happen?:"Lloyd Richards"

"Bill Sampson:" Your guests were wondering when they might view the body?"Margo Channing:" 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 is my last request to be buried sitting up."Bill Sampson:" Wouldn't it be more natural for you to be taking a bow?

Real diamonds in a wig, the world we live in.:"Bill Sampson"


External links

* [ All About Eve Script] from Internet Movie Script Database
*imdb title|id=0042192|title=All About Eve
*tcmdb title|id=67044|title=All About Eve
*allmovie title|id=1:1546
*rotten-tomatoes|id=1000626-all_about_eve|title=All About Eve
*" [ All About Eve] " on

###@@@KEY@@@###s-achsuccession box
before = "Bicycle Thieves
after = "La Ronde
title = BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source
years = 1951|
succession box
title=Special Jury Prize, Cannes
after="Nous sommes tous des assassins"

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