In 1950, the movies recognised stardom as a pathological disorder. Exhibit A was Sunset Blvd, exhibit B All About Eve. Set in the Broadway jungle rather than among the “sun-burnt eager beavers” of Hollywood, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s film dissects the narcissism and hypocrisy of the spotlight as sharply as Wilder’s, but pays equal attention to the challenges of enacting womanhood. All About My Mother (not to mention Showgirls) would be unimaginable without it. Anne Baxter is Eve Harrington, the wide-eyed stage-door hanger-on who insinuates her way into the world of Bette Davis’ sacred monster, Margo Channing; butter-might-just-melt meets gin-hold-the-tonic. The fan who makes an audience of the stars, Eve is soon attracting her own admirers, as well as barbs worthy of Mankiewicz’s ’30s newsroom pedigree. Edith Head’s costumes stress the antagonism: Eve enters in a sexy-modest trenchcoat-and-trilby combo, and could anyone but Davis pull off a ball gown with pockets? Meanwhile, the real threat—Marilyn Monroe—sits at the party’s edge, shining, angling for another drink.
Cast and crew