Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

All About Eve (1950)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

All About Eve (1950)

In writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz' black-and-white, Best Picture-winning masterpiece - a cautionary drama about ambition and intrigue in the world of the American theater (Broadway and New York) - with barbed, sophisticated and witty dialogue in the screen play and flawless acting and direction:

  • the opening scene at an annual awards banquet for the presentation of the Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement - to Eve Harrington (Oscar-nominated Anne Baxter); the scene was accompanied by the voice-over on an off-camera, muted voice: "And no brighter light has ever dazzled the eye than Eve Harrington. Eve. But more of Eve later, all about Eve, in fact"; shortly later, the voice described Eve as she accepted the award: "Eve. Eve the Golden Girl, the Cover Girl, the Girl Next Door, the Girl on the Moon. Time has been good to Eve. Life goes where she goes. She's the profiled, covered, revealed, reported. What she eats and what she wears and whom she knows and where she was, and when and where she's going. Eve. You all know All About Eve. What can there be to know that you don't know?"
  • the revelation of the individual behind the voice - cynical, caustic, acid-tongued New York drama critic Addison De Witt (Oscar-winning George Sanders), who then proceeded to introduce some of the film's main characters in attendance: Karen Richards (Celeste Holm), wife of playwright Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff), the theatrical producer of the play which had won the award for Eve, and famed Broadway actress Margo Channing (Oscar-nominated Bette Davis): "Margo Channing is a Star of the Theater. She made her first stage appearance, at the age of four, in Midsummer Night's Dream. She played a fairy and entered - quite unexpectedly - stark naked. She has been a Star ever since. Margo is a great Star. A true star. She never was or will be anything less or anything else"
  • the flashbacked plot, beginning with a backstage scene at a Broadway theatre of producer Max Fabian's play Aged in Wood, where mega-star Margo denounced her fans (autograph collectors): "Autograph fiends, they're not people. Those are little beasts that run around in packs like coyotes...They're nobody's fans. They're juvenile delinquent, they're mental defective, and nobody's audience. They never see a play or a movie even. They're never indoors long enough"
  • the scene of young adoring fan Eve in the alleyway next to the theatre ("the mousy one with the trench coat and a funny hat") being let in to be introduced to Margo (with unflattering cold cream on her face), and Margo's maid, friend and companion Birdie Coonan's (Thelma Ritter) negative reaction to Margo's put-on performance in Eve's presence: "When she gets like this - all of a sudden, she's playin' Hamlet's mother"
  • Eve's captivating hard-luck, melancholy tale of her life story to the dressing room audience, capped by Birdie's sarcastic comment: "What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end"
  • Eve's staging of a welcome home (from Los Angeles) and belated birthday party ("a night to go down in history") for Margo's lover Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill), to be attended by all the leading lights of the New York theatrical world; Margo sensed Eve's conniving, and delivered her famous threat and premonition: "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night"
"Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night"
"Miss Casswell is an actress - a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art"
"Now go and make him happy"
  • at Margo's party, Addison De Witt's introduction of his protege/date of the moment, a bimbo date and so-called starlet-actress named Miss Casswell (Marilyn Monroe): "Miss Casswell is an actress - a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art"; soon after, De Witt then pimped out Miss Caswell to producer Max Fabian: De Witt: "Now go and do yourself some good." Miss Casswell: "Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits?"
    De Witt: "Because that's what they are. Now go and make him happy"
  • Margo's outburst of dialogue during the party, especially directed toward Eve: "Didn't you know? We're all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey, day and night. (To Eve) Aren't we, honey?"
  • the scene of Margo's self-reflective moment about her real persona, full of weaknesses and vain insecurities about her increasing age, delivered in the back seat of a car; she described how she had been hardened and paid the price in human relationships, especially with Bill, by her successful exhibitionist career: ("The things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you'll need them again when you get back to being a woman")
  • just before Eve's opening performance after replacing Margo, De Witt's powerful scene of the denouncement and unmasking of her fraudulent duplicity - and the revelation of Eve's Machiavellian, cold-blooded, destructive plans to further her own ends, such as her efforts at seducing Bill, and entering into an "unholy alliance" with playwright Lloyd Richards: "To begin with, your name is not Eve Harrington. It's Gertrude Slescynski....San Francisco has no Shubert Theater. You've never been to San Francisco! That was a stupid lie, easy to expose, not worthy of you....You're an improbable person, Eve, and so am I. We have that in common. Also a contempt for humanity, an inability to love and be loved, insatiable ambition - and talent. We deserve each other...and you realize and you agree how completely you belong to me?"; when Eve protested that she couldn't go on stage after being devastated by his unmasking, De Witt thought otherwise: "Couldn't go on! You'll give the performance of your life"
  • and the final scene, following the Sarah Siddons awards banquet, of one of Eve's star-struck fans Phoebe (Barbara Bates) (another budding "Eve"), clutching Eve's award while bowing in front of a large four-mirrored cheval - she stepped forward and bowed, again and again and again, acknowledging imaginary applause from an audience during a curtain call

Eve Receiving Award at Sarah Siddons Ceremony

NY Drama Critic Addison De Witt

Margo Channing with Eve

Margo's Self-Reflection in Back Seat of Car

De Witt's Denouncement of Eve's Duplicity

Eve's Fan Phoebe (Barbara Bates) Bowing in Front of Mirror


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