I guess this may be the biggest shock in my ranking. Few movies have achieved such a following, especially on the Internet, where it is usually called one of the best, if not the best, movie of all time, featuring Bette Davis giving, for many, one of the best, if not the best, female performances of all time. Personally, I react to All about Eve the same way as I do to Bette Davis’s performance – I completely agree that it is brilliant, I just differ with others on the level of brilliance.
All about Eve, of course, tells the story of a young, ambitious actress who manipulates her way into the life of Broadway diva Margo Channing in hope to steal her next part right from under her nose. Margo Channing herself must not only deal with this young woman but also with her own insecurities that come from her realization that she is slowly becoming too old for the roles she is playing and maybe even for the man she loves.
Because of the (mostly) fantastic cast and the almost magical way Mankiewicz develops the characters and uses the dialogue, All about Eve is both incredibly entertaining and almost thrilling despite the fact that the words always overwhelm the action. There is not much happening in All about Eve, it’s a simple story but Mankiewicz highlights how the characters react to this simple story, how all of sudden the lives of all group members change. All about Eve is neither a backstage drama in the classical sense nor a story about the world of show business but a quiet character study set in the world of the theatre.
To be fair, All about Eve also features one scene and one plot detail that will forever annoy me – the scene between Eve and Karen in Margo’s bedroom. Up to this moment, Eve has only worked as Margo’s secretary, she has told that she had acted a little bit in her home town but was terrible and that she is mostly a fan of the theatre. So, when Eve suddenly tells Karen that she isn’t very busy as Margo’s assistant and asks Karen as a favour to become Margo’s new understudy in a play on Broadway, everything suddenly turns into an incredibly awkward scene because never once does any character concern itself with the topic that it would be highly unusual to give a woman like this a job as understudy of the central character in a Broadway play. This aspect of the story which also influences the rest of the main story always bothered me rather very much but it doesn’t take away the excellence of the remaining movie.
So, I, too, agree that All about Eve is an overall brilliant movie and the fact that it didn’t make it higher on this list does not mean that I don’t appreciate it as much as others do but only means that I prefer 25 other movies a little bit more.