I was seriously going for Once Upon a Time There Was a Boy… But a more mature and short perspective is required. I loved Bette Davis from the start; don’t ask me why, who knows, I was just a kid. I don’t remember the first film, it might’ve been Dead Ringers and I definitely haven’t hunt down all of her movies. But for some reason when I was about 12-13 I think, I bought the one VHS tape that would change me forever: All About Eve. I don’t remember the reasons for buying it, I suspect I was just fascinated by the subject. And I dare to say it certainly influenced my way of being and acting and thinking.
Thank you, Bette Davis, and thank you Mr. Mankievicz for ending up casting Bette.
Bette Davis, in All About Eve
approximately 58 minutes and 27 seconds
42.9% of the film
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.
Bette Davis as Margo Channing
Bette plays Margo Channing, an aging, but very successful theatre actress, with a good man and great friends on her side, who welcomes Eve Harrington into her life, an innocent devoted fan who starts working as her assistant. As Eve makes her way to the top, Margo starts doubting her lover, her friends and her career, but manages to find a balance in the end. It’s a wonderfully written role, with an interesting character arc and lots of juicy scenes for the actress.
It’s always harder to talk about your favorites. But I think Bette’s greatest moments as Margo are when she’s most relaxed and confident of her strengths. You can read arrogance on her face that it’s unmatchable, but it seems so justified: you look at her and you can fully believe the greatness of Margo the actress and the fascination that the others have for her. From this point of view, Bette makes Margo 100% believable. Could you have imagined Claudette Colbert in this role?! She was way too soft to pull the domineering side of Margo! Say what you want, Bette Davis was born to play this role.
From there on it’s all greatness. I would never dare to call the performance perfection, there’s no such thing, but you can’t help loving the flaws too. Drunkenness is never easy to act and Bette is great at it, always staying in character. She is always comfortable in the skin of Margo, no matter the situation. She is jealous and she is brave and she is not ever afraid of deglam: no, not in the first scene when she is taking the makeup off, but in the night call scene, where Bette’s lack of vanity creates a great, memorable, believable acting moment. What other actress of that era would’ve dared to film that scene the way she did?
She is always touching in the moments of vulnerability of the character, like in the car scene, when Margo finally lets her guard down. She’s sweet and humble and different than what we’re used to see. Her two big scenes are equally great: the party scene, with Fasten your seatbelts… (read impeccably) and the scene in the theatre, when she confronts all with Eve being her understudy: no other scene can prove the power of this performance, the strength and the intelligence that Margo displays and the steady hand that Bette has on her character.
While it’s probably not the best performance ever, it’s definitely my favorite one. When a great actress finds a great character and a great director, there is no way for the performance to be less that fabulous. Bette Davis rises to the challenge and those who will have an eye for detail will always notice how she obviously elevates the performance from good (what any good actress could’ve accomplished) to unforgettable, career-best, magic, deliciously diva-like. .