All About Eve
"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night."
Featuring what is perhaps Bette Davis's most memorable performance, All About Eve is a 1950 Twentieth Century Fox film, written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, recounting the tale of Margo Channing, a seasoned veteran of the stage and the darling of Broadway, taking under her wing Eve Harrington, a young acolyte with nowhere else to go, whose motives are not what they seem. Other important characters include Addison DeWitt, a jaded, cynical, and frighteningly influential drama critic; Bill Samson, Margo's director boyfriend; Lloyd Richards, Margo's playwright; and Karen, Lloyd's wife and Margo's closest friend and confidant. The costumes were by famed Hollywood designer Edith Head and the film score was by Alfred Newman.
All About Eve was nominated for fourteen Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for George Sanders as Addison DeWitt), Best Costume Design for a Black-and-White film (Edith Head and Charles Le Maire), Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Sound Recording.
- Ambiguously Gay: At least to modern viewers, Addison comes off as more than a little camp.
- There are a few (very subtle) instances in the film where you can also argue that Eve shows some Psycho Lesbian tendencies as well.
- Ambition Is Evil: Eve knows exactly what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Bill to Margo.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Eve, oh so much.
- Breaking Lecture: Addison, to Eve.
- Break the Haughty
- Camp Straight: Addison.
- The Chessmaster: Eve, although she is Out-Gambitted by Addison.
- Cynical Mentor: Margo has been in theater for many years, has seen it all, and knows just what makes audiences tick. Addison has much wisdom to offer to a promising young unknown, but certainly does not feel compassion for her or for anyone else.
- Dawson Casting: In-universe; Margo feels washed-up for playing a character so much younger than her actual age.
- Deadpan Snarker: Margo, in spades. Also Addison and Birdie, to nearly as great an extent.
- Deal with the Devil: Eve's growing complicity with Addison comes to have unforeseen costs.
- Drink Order: "I'll have a martini."
- Everybody Smokes
- Everyone Has Standards: Addison admonishes Eve for insulting the memory of dead heroes and the women who loved them.
- Extreme Doormat: Eve towards Margo, initially.
- Foreshadowing: A subtle example at the beginning; everybody applauds at the beginning when Eve is set to receive the Sarah Siddons award - everyone, that is, except Margo and Karen. Also, when Eve first meets Margo and Lloyd, she specifically mentions the play Lloyd is currently writing.. Finally, there's the scene later where Margo catches Eve taking a bow to an empty stage, holding the dress Margo just wore in the play.
- Funny Foreigner: Max Fabian.
- Genre Savvy: Birdie. Played for laughs at first ("What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snapping at her rear end!"), but she's the first one to pick up on how Eve's devotion to Margo might not be all it seems to be.
- Gratuitous French: Used by a few characters.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Eve isn't at all an example of this! She loves Margo! Really!
- Heel Realization: Margo has one partway through the film.
- Here We Go Again: At the end, it's rather heavily intimated that Phoebe may be planning to do the same thing to Eve that Eve has done to Margo.
- Info Dump: The opening narration of the film.
- Informed Ability: We see a sliver of the incredible performance Eve gives that's supposed to kick-start her acting career... but considering her character is performing fabulously throughout the film, we can assume she's great.
- And Margo Channing, the great lady of the theater, compared to Helen Hayes and Jeanne Eagels by Addison: all we see of her performance in Aged in Wood is a glimpse of the curtain call.
- It's All About Me: Ironically, Margo is almost as self-centered as the woman who idolizes her.
- Lady Drunk: Margo.
- Lemony Narrator: The film is partially narrated by Addison, who has a rather low opinion of the other principal characters, and of humanity in general.
- Loony Fan: Margo is the only source of happiness in Eve's life from before the two even meet in person, and the focus of her activities for a long time afterward.
- The ending shows that Eve may have gained a Loony Fan of her own.
- Love Triangle: Between Margo, Bill and Eve.
- Manipulative Bastard: Most of the important characters are skilled at manipulating others' emotions. Some elevate it to an art form.
- Multiple Choice Past: It turns out Eve has been lying about her background and true identity as part of her plan to manipulate Margo into becoming her understudy.
- Naive Newcomer: How Eve portrays herself.
- Only Sane Man: Bill, to some degree, and also Karen, are the only characters in the film who aren't massively screwed up and manipulating others for their own gain.
- The Only Way They Will Learn: Doubly subverted. Karen deliberates on her plan to help Margo to get over herself. She finishes with "there's not even a reason why I shouldn't tell her," then, as she picks up the phone, adds, "in time." Subverted again, when it turns out Karen is the one without a clue.
- Pimped-Out Cape: Eve has one when she gets her award, that Phoebe tries on when she shows she has the same ambitions.
- Pimped-Out Dress: The lead role in Aged in Wood calls for one.
- Pretty in Mink: Particularly when some of the ladies comment enviously on a sable coat.
- Marilyn Monroe wearing an ermine coat.
- Margo jokes that she'll just wear a fur coat and a nightgown to her wedding.
- Psycho Lesbian: Whatever her feelings for Margo (or Phoebe), it's about as clear as the Hays code would allow that Eve leans toward women, one scene even closing with her and a female cohort retiring arm in arm to their boudoir.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Given to both Margo and Eve.
- Rich Bitch: Margo.
- Shout-Out/To Shakespeare: Macbeth, specifically.
- Smug Snake: Eve.
- Spit Take
- Spock Speak: Bill describing the time to Margo in the car.
- Stalker with a Crush: Eve is a stalker par excellence. Whether what draws her to Margo can be called a crush depends on one's interpretation.
- The Stoic: Acerbic, icy, and unflappable, Addison is a Stoic to the very end, even when he would be entirely justified in showing some emotion. He feels passion only for the theater, such as his joyful reverence for Margo Channing even when she is having a theatrical temper tantrum.
- In one scene, Eve is able to make him lose his temper, something no one else ever comes close to doing.
- Villainous Breakdown / Villainous BSOD: Eve, whilst Addison coldly and efficiently obliterates her entire facade in private. She still goes on to win the award we see her win at the start of the film and is clearly going to be successful, but she's a shadow of her former self.