Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Nominated for 14 Oscars, Won 6
Up Against: Born Yesterday, Father of the Bride, King Solomon's Mines, Sunset Blvd.
Synopsis: Eve Harrington is an aspiring actress, and a rabid fan of Margo Channing, a big Broadway star. One evening, a good friend of Margo's a playwrights wife, notices Eve and remembers seeing her at every single show Margo's done, and invites her to meet Margo. Margo, initially repulsed by the idea of a rabid fan, takes Eve in after hearing her story of loss, and of wanting to become an actress. She takes the girl in, lets her live in her home, and Eve becomes almost a pseudo-help. All the while, she's impressing all those she comes into contact with through Margo. And there may be a lot more to Eve than her seeming innocence.
This film has promise to be an interesting story (one that has become quite cliched now) of a young actress taken under their idol's wing, and becoming stars themselves. However, this film was overlong, and take s a very long time to get going, and a long time to wrap up.
It's a clever idea, and was probably one of the first films to mock celebrities. Bette Davis (Margo) was wonderfully over-dramatic, but subtle when she needed to be. And Anne Baxter as Eve was so innocent, but was able to turn on the persona she later gains in the second half of the film with ease and believability. The acting was great, and there was even a couple scenes with a very young Marilyn Monroe.
But the main qualm I had with this film was it was too long. Had this film been at least 45 minutes shorter, the story would've been much more effective, and a lot more entertaining. The first hour or so captivated me, but around the 1 and 1/2 hour mark, I started getting tired of the story. When I saw I still had around 45 minutes to an hour left, I was impatient. The film took too long to get to Eve's "rise to fame" chapter, and then spent too long with a pompous Eve, being quite popular.
Overall, the film was well-acted and looked quite good, and the music also good, but it was just too long to really capture me entirely. The film got quite dry by the end, and I was ready for it to be over. Had this been 1950, and I were watching it when it was made, I may have been less hard on it. I haven't seen and read stories like these a few times over, and it would've been a fresher take. However, it's 2012, and it's hard to judge really. The screenplay was sharp and witty, and was another great thing about it. I really wish I'd liked it more, given how much of a classic it really is. I applaud the idea, being a clever one, and being executed (initially) quite well. Compared to other films, it is still quite relevant, and still has an audience appeal because we still make movies with a similar story. It stands the test of time quite well, as still being regarded as a good film, with a good story, screenplay, and acting. However, had this film been a little bit shorter, I may've enjoyed it a lot more.
Updated Note (3/24/2014): I enjoyed this film much more upon second viewing. The film didn't feel quite as long as I have complained before, and was sharply written. The plot was clever and was extremely fun. You can never quite figure Eve out, and that's what makes it so great. I have upped the ratings in the Directing and Screenplay categories, as well as the Entertainment categories for a new total of 83/100 (upped from 72.5)
Emotional Connection 8/10
Overall Package- 9/10