For my second movie of my Labor Day Weekend movie marathon  I selected the  1950 Bette Davis classic, All About Eve.  Here’s what it’s about:  Theater! Aging actress. Scheming ingenue. Jealous rages.  Delicious lines.

Here’s one great scene when Bette Davis’s Margot Channing (that’s the aging actress) discovers her boyfriend chatting with the deceitful Eve (that’s the scheming ingenue).  In the moments leading up to this scene, Davis’s character had a growing sense that Eve was taking over her life for the purposes of replacing her.  If only we could all fly off the handle with this much class and intelligence:

Later, Eve worms her way into being Margot Channing’s understudy and then reading Channing’s part in her absence.  Much to Margot’s anger, she’s brilliant, which leads to this altercation with the playwright and the director of the show (who is also Margot’s boyfriend). This clip has Spanish subtitles so you can learn to eloquently put people down in Spanish!:

What was striking about this film is how much dialog there is.  Really, this is over two hours of just talking and looking.  There is virtually no action.  But the dialog.  The quick exchange.  It’s such a descendant of the screwball comedies of the 1930s where the sentence is run-through and finished off with breezy hand gesture.  It was also incredibly refreshing to have a movie where difficult plot lines resolve themselves naturally and realistically and aren’t contrived for the sake of drama.  For instance [spoiler] Eve’s failed attempt to steal Margot’s boyfriend.  He rejects her because he find’s her forwardness a turn off, he love’s Margot, and that’s that.  Most movies would have gone for the cheap drama of an exchanged kiss or someone walking in on them at an inopportune time.  Instead, the scene plays out in a way that rounds out the Bill character by making him seem reliable and independent (he does not exist solely to forward the Eve plotline) and also shows how vulnerable and desperate Eve really is.

Another great moment [spoiler] is Eve’s attempt at extorting Margot’s friend, Karen.  Eve threatens Karen by claiming she will reveal a damaging secret unless Karen ensures her a role that Margot expects to play.  Karen is clearly distraught and unsure of what to do.  When Karen returns to the table Margot announces, without knowing anything about Karen’s situation, that she no longer wants to play the role Eve was gunning for.  Karen laughs with unqualified relief.  Here a plot device that easily resolves itself through the natural course of human action.  Such a rare thing in contemporary movies.

What I took from this movie: I would gladly be in Margot Channing’s entourage.  Sure there might be some nutjob moments, but at least I would always be surrounded by a flurry of words declared in a truly mesmerizing way.

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