44. “All About Eve”, Joseph Mankiewicz (1950)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list

All About Eve

All About Eve

dir. Joseph Mankiewicz scr. Joseph Mankiewicz based on The Wisdom of Eve by Mary Orr cin. Milton R. Krasner with Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Thelma Ritter, Gregor Ratoff, and Marilyn Monroe

In 100 words: On this list, none is as more precious and entertaining as this movie’s brilliant script, full of the sharp one-liners and witty putdowns delivered by some of the most extraordinary actors giving their best performances. Mankiewicz’s dialogue is a dream, matched only by the richness of his satirical take on the theater community, with all of its riveting backstage intrigue. I love that he takes these people’s careers seriously, not just paying lip-service. His visuals are unfussy but the changing landscape of his mise-en-scene provide valuable insights into these characters. Bette Davis gives her best performance ever. An American landmark.

 Other Movies for Context: Few movies are as iconic as this–it’s peak Bette Davis, Mankiewicz, the delicious George Sanders, and the introduction of the brilliant tartness of Thelma Ritter. In the very same year, another celebrity satire often compared to this movie debuted: Sunset Boulevard (1950), Billy Wilder’s influential gothic take on Hollywood. I think of Woody Allen’s Bullets over Broadway (1994) sometimes when I look back on this one. Mean Girls (2004) also feels similarly devious and witty with the whole backstabby part of the movie, functioning similar to this. But my gosh, this movie is so important to the development of my love for film, it’s hard to think about anything else when you’re watching it.

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