Well, this is it. The final review for Clean Movie Month. As I look back on my entries for this particular blogathon, I notice that most of these movies were decent, according to my opinion. Only Madeleine was just ok. Again, this is based on my opinion. This observation was very interesting, something that I hadn’t expected. As All About Eve is the last movie I’m reviewing for Clean Movie Month, I wanted to see if I liked this movie any more or less than the other movies I’ve previously talked about. This specific film was released in 1950, within the final years of the Breen Code era. Several days ago, I had reviewed two other films from this same year: Madeleine and Les Enfants Terribles. Among these two films, Madeleine was the one that seemed to follow the Breen Code more closely. Les Enfants Terribles, on the other hand, only partially incorporated the Breen Code. Would All About Eve follow the footsteps of the crime drama from the United Kingdom or be influenced by the character-driven French film? Hold your applause and get right for the curtain call, as we’re about to review 1950’s All About Eve!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: As I mentioned in my review of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Bette Davis excels that portraying characters that are unsettling and over-the-top. Her portrayal of Margo Channing, however, is very different from her performances in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. This is because the character is more grounded and subtle in presentation and personality. Despite this, Bette successfully brought versatility to her role! Watching Anne Baxter’s portrayal of Eve Harrington was entertaining! She was able to capture that sense of awe and wonder that most people would display when entering the theater world. As her character grew, she allowed her performance to evolve. The other cast members had good on-screen chemistry, keeping their interactions interesting and engaging. They effectively brought their characters to life and gave great performances!
The voice-overs: At various points in the film, voice-overs could be heard from some of the characters. They were narrating how Eve came into their lives and how she impacted their relationships. Eve, however, never gets to narrate her own story. But, through these voice-overs and interactions, the audience gets to see her develop as an individual. This type of story-telling is very reminiscent of Citizen Kane. The difference between this film and All About Eve is that in All About Eve, the audience has the chance to connect with each of the characters. The characters who are narrating the story are still given a chance to tell their stories. Their narrations also provide a sense of depth to the overall plot.
The behind-the-scenes look at the theater world: All About Eve is about a group of people who work in the theater industry. While this film showed the “glitzy” and “glamourous” side of things, it also showed the not-so-glamourous side. Seeing both of these perspectives was not only refreshing, but also insightful! I also liked how these characters were portrayed in a realistic and relatable way. When it comes to cinematic stories about the theater or movie industry, the characters are, sometimes, portrayed as being something greater than what they really are. All About Eve, instead, shows the characters dealing with situations and issues that other people could experience. Margo wanting to help Eve enter the theater world is a good example of this.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Drawn-out scenes: There were some scenes in All About Eve that felt more drawn-out. One example is the scene where Margo is hosting a dinner party. It introduced characters that only appear on-screen for minutes at a time, but furthered certain story-lines forward. While this part of the movie provided character development, I think it lasted a little too long. Had this scene been cut in half, the narrative would have gotten straight to the point. This would also shorten the film’s run-time.
A predictable plot twist: All About Eve contains a plot twist that changes the overall perception of one of the characters. I won’t share what this plot twist is, in case you haven’t seen this movie. But, when I learned more about this particular character, I knew that something wasn’t right. When the plot twist happened, I was not surprised. Because of how predictable this plot twist was, it took away the mystery and surprise that could have been incorporated into the story. What I got instead was a story element that I was aware of all along.
A misleading title: As this movie is titled All About Eve, it gives the impression that the film focuses on the character of Eve Harrington. While this is true to a certain extent, the movie is also about Bette Davis’ character, Margo Channing. When looking at the cast of characters, Margo is the one who is leading this story. Even on the movie’s poster, Margo is the only character that is featured in the image. It makes the title appear misleading, as if the creative team behind this film is not holding up their end of the bargain. If the film were given an honest title, it would be called “Mostly About Margo” or “Sometimes About Eve”.
My overall impression:
All About Eve will close this year’s Clean Movie Month as being a decent film. There were elements to this movie that I thought were interesting. The insightful look into the world of theater is just one example. However, certain aspects prevented the film from being a better project. As I already mentioned, the predictable plot twist is one of the reasons. It was nice to see a different side to Bette Davis’ acting abilities, as I’ve previously only seen her portray characters that are unsettling and over-the-top. It shows just how talented Bette Davis is. Even though All About Eve was approved by the Breen Code, I was surprised by some of the language that was featured in the script. During the aforementioned dinner party, Margo tells an ill guest that they’ll “burp” if they take a particular solution. This reminded me of something that Tiffany and Rebekah said in their Breening Thursday review of “The Trouble with Angels”. According to this article, references to bodily functions were looked down on. Because All About Eve was released in the Breen Code era, this mention of “burping” shouldn’t have been featured in the film. Another thing that I noticed was how one character got slapped in the face, which wasn’t done in self-defense. In the films that I reviewed during Clean Movie Month, the violence was either frowned upon or done in self-defense. Like I said about the “burping”, this action should not have been featured.
Overall score: 7 out of 10
What are your thoughts on Clean Movie Month? Would you like to see me participate in next year’s blogathon? Please tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!