All About Eve is a 1950 drama that for nearly fifty years stood as the lone record holder for most Academy Award nominations. At the 23rd Academy Awards it was nominated for a total of fourteen awards, a feat unmatched until Titanic equalled it in 1997. The film wouldn’t be a successful as James Cameron’s sprawling, water based epic however and won just six of it’s nominations including the important Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Sixty four years on and today I watched the film for the first time to see what all the fuss is about. My immediate impression upon completing the film was that of surprise for its multiple nominations and victories but stepping back a little, the film features a lot to like, not least some fantastic writing and superb acting performances.
The film strangely shares many themes with another 1950 release, Sunset Boulevard, and indeed the two would battle it out in eight of the categories at the Oscar’s ceremony I just spoke of. Another film that All About Eve congers memories of is stranger still and that is Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls. All three movies feature stories about revered and ageing stars who are or at least feel threatened by perkier, younger women. Here, the marvellous Bette Davis plays Broadway star Margot Channing, a talented actress with an outwardly sense of entitlement but who is inwardly frail and uneasy, worried for her place in the theatre world. Her fears come to the forefront of her mind when she is confronted with the attributes and ambitions of Eve Harrington (Ann Baxter). Harrington begins the film as a timid and star struck young girl but what lurks beneath her downtrodden and excited appearance is a viciously ambitious starlet.