Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anne Baxter, in All About Eve
approximately 51 minutes and 13 seconds
37.6% of the film





The film

An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

It’s an alltime favorite and in my opinion one of the best Best Picture winners you’ll find out there. Some dislike it because they prefer Sunset Blvd., but I say: love them both, just like I do. All About Eve is all about celebrating: actors, theatre, women and their strong personalities and it’s a film that succeeds in all aspects.







Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington

When you are about to break tradition, you are definitely gonna make a bit of noise and there’s gonna be a bit of drama. This is what happened when the Oscar finally greeted 2 actresses from the same film, both receiving Best Actress nominations. It was a first for the leading category and it’s still up for debate if Anne Baxter indeed deserved to sneak in and steal some of Bette’s Oscar support. If you’d ask me this old question, I’ll say yes: Anne Baxter is co-lead in All About Eve, so the category placement is correct. The last 20-30 minutes really are ALL about Eve.


Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington, an apparently innocent young woman with an undying passion for theatre and especially for theatre legend Margo Channing. When the actress welcomes her into her life, Eve subtly and almost efficiently attempts to take over her man, her writer and her next role. This is the character that inspired so many similar ones in the last 6 decades: the plotting & deceiving bitch stealing the spotlight from the aging actress.

And Anne does a good job, considering the responsibility. I would actually dare to say that she might actually have the most difficult lines of the screenplay, especially in the first part of the film, when she’s pretending to be the good girl and has a long cheesy melodramatic monologue. We are not talking bad writing, but the uncomfortable, clich├ęd material than Anne needs to go through in order to create the impression that Eve is delivering the perfect lie.

To explain: Anne Baxter is playing Eve who goes through most of the film pretending to be someone she isn’t. Eve is not the innocent girl, but we believe that she is because Anne perfectly manages to joggle between perfectly-calculated acting and letting herself loose at times. Eve’s innocence and good intentions are all believable due to Anne’s well-thought grip on the character.


However, the innocent Eve is so confident as a character, that I found myself often bored by her especially when she’s interacting with the other characters. She is not meant to be star of the film, at least in the first half, and guess what: she’s not. Yes, there are signs of wicked Eve early on and they’re fun to watch, but for 75% of the film I almost didn’t care about Eve. Despite the title, it’s mostly the Bette Davis show and it affects my capacity of seeing Anne’s performance as more than a regular good performance lost in the handful of terrific acting that All About Eve has to deliver.

And then there’s time for her to stand out. And I’ll hand to Anne: the hotel room scene in which Eve is forced by Addison to admit the truth is dynamite (!!!) and that scene itself justifies the nomination. As the real Eve comes to light, there’s finally time for best in show. She is so precise, so mean, so natural, so straight-forward, so different and ultimately so vulnerable. The hotel moment and her diva boredom in the last scene completely turn around the performance in a good way.


But even so: to me it’s an uneven performance because I wasn’t cheering for most of the film. For the biggest part, she is overshadowed by her co-stars, but when she is finally unleashed in the last 20-30 minutes of the film, I learn to love the performance and the precision that Anne Baxter brings to the performance. And how could I rate it? The hotel moment is a 5, but the overall performance from start to finish is a very strong .

14 comments:

Twister said...

This is one of those nominations that everyone clearly agree's that's worthy, but would never give the Oscar to.

And I agree.

But there seems to be a lack of cosistency, and the fact that she's occasionally a bore compared to the others. Baxter just doesn't have the star power/charisma/presence that Bette Davis has -- and that's why she's always (deservedly) appreciated more.

joe burns said...

I agree with Twister, no one would give a win to it, at least not next to the other nominees. But in supporting, I certainly would give her the win.

Alex in Movieland said...

well, 3 nominees in the supporting category might've been a bit crazy and possible they would've canceled eachother out Tom Jones-style.
Anne would've probably bumped out Olson (Sunset Blvd.) or Emerson.

Truth be told, I completely love Celeste Holm's performance in All About Eve, because she fits the film so perfectly as a balance of kindness. Even with Anne in the competition, I might've chosen Celeste.

Twister said...

I love Holm's performance too, and it sad to see that she got hardly any love at Stinky's smackdown.

She did have a beautiful light contrast to Davis, and the film needs her warmth, as well as the anchor she provides for the narrative.

Either she or Nancy Olson would get me vote.

Alex in Movieland said...

i just noticed.

Twister, I gotta hand it to you! You did have some balls to shamelesly steal Stinkylulu's Smackdowns, hearts, everything. Not classy, not classy.

people do similar stuff, but that's way too "in your face".

Anonymous said...

I really think Anne Baxter gives the best performance in All About Eve, even if Bette Davis is my favorite actress ever I really don't think this was her best performance, even though I think it is great as always, when I first saw this film I remember that after it was over I thought that Baxter had given one of the best performances I had ever seen on a film and it is still in my top 10 of favorite performances, I would have given her the Oscar without a doubt in my mind. She's great.

Twister said...

Alex, I had written a post stating my apologies for taking the exact format, like the hearts. And yes that was his idea, and I took it, and no I shouldn't have. But I didn't "steal" it -- I didn't pretend I was him or anything. It was me and my own opinions/reviews. I carried on with MY material, that was nothing "stolen"

But everyone has there Smackdowns, so no regrets on actually having my own that resembles his (I just love the layout). It's a free country here in AMERICA and it's not like the picture/wording format is copyrighted anyway.

So don't tell me I'm not classy when you have no idea what my intentions had been.

Alex in Movieland said...

@anonymous

while I obviously don't agree on Anne giving the best performance, maybe there's an explanation why you remembered the performance so highly. :) I think it might also be the fact that Anne gets the last chapter of All About Eve and brings all her terrific acting towards the end of the film, making a bit impression in the finale!

Alex in Movieland said...

@twister,

I find it silly you bringing the copyright arguement. NO one was bringing legal action :)) It's a thing of morality & stuff.

How can you imagine you are bringing an homage by ripping off everything. you cannot continue an EXACT tradition without the help/approval/blessing of the person who started it.
and what's the point of saying sorry when you continue doing it and finding excuses.

however, those comments in that post you wrote exceed all. That Sage person was the drama queen that created the problems. I WAS watching carefully that 1983 Smackdown and I know the backstory and the sh!t he continued throwing around and now pretends to be some kind of saint or victim.

hey, at least i know the side i'm on. :) best of luck with your blog activity and thanks for stopping by once in a while.

Alex

Twister said...

I stated that the Smackdowns I had done should NOT have been exact like with the hearts and what not. I do understand now, how I took it farther than I homage and I shouldn't have.

I continue to do this, and it's not excuses, because I'm sorry for copying him, but if I carry on and change things around so the Smackdowns are not exact, then I don't see any harm in that. He may have started the Smackdowns, and now everyone has related activities, so if I tweak mine it's not a bad thing.

And I don't believe it's a morally bad thing to use the same geneneral look. I'm not trashing his name or mocking him (I freakin' LOVE the guys writing!) but if I keep using my own material with a (non-exact) look that I borrowed from him that would play as a resepctful homage, I don't see that as something bad.

I hope we can still talk and stuff, because I do really like your blogs, and I do hope that despite all of this, we can talk on my blog as well.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Ha. I thought that you'd hate it so I'm content with this, if disappointed. There's potential for nepotism because Anne is one of my favourite actors, and well Bette isn't. Hee. The thing is I think the film belongs equally to the four (in my opinion) leads. Addison/Karen/Eve/Margo and each actor holds the forth excellently, I can't pick because depending on who's talking that who's got me interested. It's essentially one of those brilliant ensembles and I wish Anne was more appreciated (not necessarily for this, just in general.)

Alex in Movieland said...

@Andrew,

seriously, I need to see The Razor's Edge. I don't even have it with me here in Athens, but i do in bucharest.

i don't think I remember seeing her in anything else. I know you're a fan of The Ten... which I also never go to see :P

Have you ever seen THE LITTLE FOXES?

joe burns said...

Alex, I think you're being a little unfair. Sure, what Twister did was a little dicy, but in the end, he just wanted to pay tribute to Stinky, and he says he'll change it around, so what's the harm in that?

Malcolm said...

As far as I can remember, I remember her being good, but I can't recall the hotel breakdown scene! How weird...