The Divine Bette Davis at her peak — Fasten your seat  belt …

…,ALL ABOUT EVE, 1950 An ingenue insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends — and DOES she ever!! Berlin Film Festival, 2010 Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz Writer: Mankiewicz,written for the screen by the director himself. Stars: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, and George Sanders, with an early bit part by Marilyn Monroe.

Baxter, Davis, Monroe and Sanders …


There are great actresses, there are very great actresses, and then there is Bette Davis. Davis had such a strong personality that when she played a role like Queen Elizabeth she didn’t convince you that she had turned into queen Elizabeth, but that queen Elizabeth had turned into Bette Davis. In All About Eve she is simply in a class by herself and the picture itself is one of the great landmarks of the Hollywood cinema along with the likes of Casablanca and Sunset Boulevard. Eve has, in fact, much in common with the latter in which a long over the hill movie star tries vainly to make a comeback.

Amazingly both of these masterpieces came out in the same year, 1950, marking it as one of the milestone years of American film history. Over the years as a non-critical film buff I had caught Eve several times on late night TV and always enjoyed it but, seeing it again in a pristine new print on the big screen at the Berlin film festival in a sidebar section devoted to the most beautiful women of the silver screen, I was totally Wowed ! ~ and left breathless at the end realizing I had just witnessed an all-time masterpiece which I had more or less taken for granted before.


Well, Okay, Bette is staggering ~ but everything else is equally tip-top: The crystal clear black and white photography, the edgy outlining of every single character in the supporting cast, supreme arch bitch Anne Baxter, ultra suave super cynical George Sanders as poison pen critic Addison Dewitt, with a glowing young Marilyn Monroe on his arm, Celeste Holm, celestial as the perfect wise-cracking protective best friend, and all others in perfect tune in a perfect symphony of backstage maneuvering and interlocking personal dramas –spiced at every turn with gold-plated tailor-made dialog topped off, of course, by Bette’s unforgettable party line “Fasten your seat belts — it looks like it’s gonna be a bumpy night”.

What is really amazing about the dialog of this film is that it was all written out beforehand by director Mankiewicz but is so perfectly suited to every character (including a zingy one- liner by Marilyn) that it feels like they were making it up as they went along with the story. So natural it is supernatural! ~~ If this is not the most perfect film ever made in Hollywood it is certainly one of the top three. If you ever get a chance to see it with an audience on a big screen be sure to fasten your seat belt and prepare to be knocked for a loop.

Alex, at Zeughaus Cinema, Unter den Linden, Berlin.


Alex DeLeon


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