LGTTM – All About Eve (1950)

 

All About Eve | Where to watch streaming and online in Australia | Flicks

ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)                             

Classic Movie Hub on X: "You've been talking to that venomous fishwife Addison DeWitt! -Hugh Marlowe as Lloyd Richards in All About Eve #classicmovies https://t.co/xOWQ8aYMIG https://t.co/AAzkrxzWYW" / X

Hugh Marlowe in All about Eve

One of Bette Davis’s former directors, Edmund Goulding, phoned Joseph L. Mankiewicz on learning of the casting of Bette Davis in the lead for this picture, and warned him that she would grind him down into a fine powder. He was referring to her on-set behavior, particularly her penchant for re-writing her dialogue. He need not have bothered with his warning, however. Bette was fully aware of the quality of Mankiewicz’s finely tuned screenplays and she had no intention of messing with his words. Indeed, Mankiewicz found her to be one of the most professional and agreeable actresses he had ever worked with. Bette admitted later on that his casting of her in this movie saved her career from oblivion after a series of unsuccessful films. She acknowledged in a 1983 interview, ‘He resurrected me from the dead.’ Mankiewicz had a far different opinion of supporting actor Hugh Marlowe. He had little respect for the man as an actor, calling him ‘a grunt’ and stating, ‘He was a stick.’

Bette’s marriage to William Grant Sherry was in its death throes while she was making All about Eve. Her raspy voice in the film was largely due to the fact that she had burst a blood vessel in her throat during a screaming match with her soon to be ex-husband in one of their many rows. Mankiewicz liked the croaky sound, so he did not have her attempt to work around it. Others falsely claimed she deliberately went for a ‘Tallulah Bankhead’ sound. Bette herself set the record straight: ‘Tallulah herself, more than anyone else, accused me of imitating her as Margo Channing [Davis’s character in the picture]. The problem was that I had no voice at all when I started filming All about Eve due to emotional stress as a result of my bitter divorce… This gave me the famous husky Bankhead voice.’

Celeste Holm has Died - BELLAVITÆ

L to R: Bette Davis & Celeste Holm share a scene

At least one other member of the cast was decidedly less inclined to praise her conduct on the set. Co-star Celeste Holm, a consummate professional herself, spoke of her experience with Miss Davis on the first day of shooting: ‘I walked onto the set…on the first day and said, Good morning,’ and do you know her reply? She said, ‘Oh shit, good manners.’ I never spoke to her again – ever.’ Years later, Bette said in an interview, ‘Filming All about Eve was a very happy experience…the only bitch in the cast was Celeste Holm.’

All About Eve's Story Needed A Major Change If It Was Going To Be Made Into A Movie

Anne Baxter & Bette Davis

To the surprise of many who knew her, and despite their characters’ tense relationship on-screen, Bette and Anne Baxter got along very well during filming. ‘The studio tried to play that up during the filming,’ recalled Baxter, ‘but I liked Bette very much.’ Davis liked Baxter, too, which was quite a compliment as Bette, reportedly, didn’t often like her female co-stars. She felt that Baxter did an excellent job with her part as Eve, and publicly praised her for it. Nevertheless, it is difficult to imagine the forty-two year old Bette being happy about the up-and-coming Anne successfully pressuring the powers that be for an Oscar nomination in the ’Best Actress’ category, rather than ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category. Anne had a sound argument, incidentally. After all, the title was All about Eve’, not All about Margo. It is thought that the splitting of the vote between Anne and Bette paved the way for Judy Holliday’s win for Born Yesterday and effectively blocked Bette’s chances of winning.

Anne Baxter was born in 1923, the grand-daughter of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. She recalled: ‘Like many famous men, my grand-father had been too busy to be a good father. But he was a charming grand-father. He designed plans for me for a doll-house. On his wedding night he wore nothing but a red sash. Now that’s what I call a true romantic.’

File:Bette Davis and Gary Merrill in All About Eve.jpg - Wikipedia

Bette & Gary Merrill

The night before shooting of this picture was about to commence, Gary Merrill [the male lead], invited everyone on the production to have drinks at the elegant Fairmont Hotel. ‘Everybody was showing off’, recalled Celeste. ‘Bette had taken one look at Gary and Gary had taken one look at Bette, and something had happened. From then on she didn’t care if the rest of us lived or died.’ The pair fell hopelessly in love almost instantly. Merrill delighted in mentioning later how he walked about ‘with a permanent erection’ for most of the shoot. The couple wed a few weeks after filming concluded. They later adopted a baby girl whom they named Margot. About a decade further on they divorced. Davis was later quoted as saying that they had married their characters from the movie, rather than the actual people. Just for the record, when Bette utters the memorable line, ‘Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night’, she is not referring to motor vehicles. Seat belts for cars virtually did not exist in 1950. She was alluding to buckling up during a bumpy flight aboard an airplane.

A Look Back At Zsa Zsa Gabor's Nine Marriages

Zsa Zsa Gabor & George Sanders

Zsa Zsa Gabor was not in the picture, but that did not stop her from arriving on the set daily, because she was jealous of her new husband, George Sanders, working with the young, blonde ingénue Marilyn Monroe. It was even said that young Marilyn opened her hotel door to him one evening, clad only in a fur coat, which she promptly opened to him also. Years later, he told Zsa Zsa, he would not have been himself had he not taken advantage of such an invitation.

All About Eve (1950)

Marilyn Monroe & Sanders in a scene from the film

Only five films have received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress In this instance, Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were so nominated. The other four pictures are: Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), for which Kate Hepburn and Liz Taylor were nominated; The Turning Point (1977), for which Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine were nominated; Terms of Endearment (1983), for which Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger were nominated; and Thelma & Louise (1991), for which Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were nominated. Only MacLaine in Terms of Endearment won. Incidentally, George Sanders’ Oscar win for All about Eve was his only nomination in his entire career.

1 Comment

  1. I am not a Bette Davis fan, I’m afraid. To me there was always an underlying nastiness in her acting. Big fan of Celeste Holme though!

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