Watching more movies for my 101 List!
All About Eve is #16 on the AFI’s Top 100 list and it thoroughly deserves its high ranking. Katieschmatie, my Day Zero Project Partner-in-Crime, and I watched this one together and we were delighted, appalled, amused, exasperated with and entranced by it. Katieschmatie's review hit all the negatives that I felt, so I'm not going to do a repeat of it (you can just read hers for the ridiculous machismo and negative portrayal of women that happens in the movie), I'm going to focus on what we really enjoyed about it.
First of all, anyone who’s ever been in theater will immediately start comparing their friends (and frenemies) to the characters in the movie. There’s Margo, the aging and talented but frustrating diva, whose passions drive her to great heights onstage and off. Her lover, the young and brilliant director, Bill. Off to the side there’s Lloyd, creative playwright who centers his work around Margo and his sweet, innocent dupe of a wife, Karen.
The costumes are fantastic, Margo's in particular:
The acting is even better, whether it's Margo in a jealous rage, Bill's everlasting love of her, the frustrated patience of their friends or... of course, Eve. Sweet, doe-eyed, quiet, graceful, modest, self-effacing… she worships Margo and waits on her hand and foot, to the point where sometimes Margo doesn’t even find out what Eve’s done for her until after it happens.
But is she as sweetly innocent as she looks?
Margo’s long time right-hand woman, Birdie, warns Margo that Eve is trying to “become” Margo, but of course Margo dismisses the accusation. At least, until Margo decides that Eve is sniffing around Bill. Then all bets are off and this Diva-zilla’s jealousy starts a landslide of drama.
I’m not going to get into the story line, because I truly think this one is worth seeing for yourself (and, as luck would have it, it’s available on Netflix Instant!), but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. My sympathies swung back and forth between Eve and Margo, trying to decide whether Margo was insane or Eve really was an incredible manipulator. Of course there's melodrama and over acting, but in this movie it fits. Margo's over dramatic passions are hilarious to watch, intentionally so, and her moments of shy vulnerability in between ranting are surprising and touching. Each character has nuances and surprises about them, and every single one of them were believable to me, 99% of the time. This was definitely my favorite movie off the list so far, and I’m so glad I’m going through the AFI Top 100 list otherwise I might’ve never seen it!
When the credits rolled, I did get a shock: Marilyn Monroe also makes an appearance the movie! I didn’t even recognize her. She’s a young, blonde bimbo – an aspiring actress of course – who spends most of her time “auditioning.”
I’m going to leave you with some of the movie’s fantastic witticisms (Since Katie already went over the negative quotes - with good reason, I want to share that some of the writing was really fantastic) about theater, which I think will really speak to those who love the stage:
Margo: “Bill’s 32. He looks 32. He looked it 5 years ago and he’ll look it 20 years from now. I hate men.”
Bill: “Wherever there’s magic and make-believe and an audience, there’s theater.”
Margo: “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.”
Eve: “If nothing else, there’s applause… like waves of love, pouring over the footlights.”