A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this classic showbiz drama has some powerful messages about ambition and betrayal. Eve manipulates others to get what she wants and succeed, and other characters initially believe her. There's also some social drinking representative of movies of the era.
What's the story?
Margo Channing (Bette Davis), a Broadway diva beginning to show her age, meets the young fan who stands outside the theater after every performance (Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington). Taken by her devotion, humility, and hard luck story, Margo gives Eve a job as a gofer/secretary. At first, she is delighted, but later comes to realize that Eve is ruthless and will stop at nothing to steal Margo's career -- not to mention her fiancé (Gary Merrill as director Bill Simpson). Eve manipulates Margo's friends and colleagues, becomes her understudy, and finally, after scheming to keep her away from the theater, goes on in her place, after arranging for critics to be at her performance. She takes the starring role in a new production that would have been Margo's, and wins an award for it. But by then, Margo and her friends are back together, Eve is tied to a critic who is as ambitiously manipulative as she is, and as the movie ends, she too meets a devoted young fan who could be another Eve.
Is it any good?
ALL ABOUT EVE has one of the most exceptional and most literate scripts ever written (by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also directed). This is not just the finest backstage drama ever filmed, but also a compelling parable of ambition and loyalty. Bette Davis is brilliant as Margo, bringing both the ferocity and the vulnerability of Margo to life. No one can forget her at the beginning of her party: "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night." She is the first to notice that Eve is not what she seems, but her friends assume it is just petty jealousy, and it only makes them want to protect Eve. Ultimately, the loyalty of all four friends keeps them together. And ultimately, Eve is reigned in by someone who is her equal, acidic columnist Addison De Witt (a silky George Saunders).
All About Eve won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders), Best Screenplay, Best Direction, and Best Costume Design. Joseph L. Mankiewicz and his brother Herman (co-author of "Citizen Kane") were responsible for many of the finest scripts ever produced. And that is Marilyn Monroe in one of her earliest appearances, as Miss Caswell.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what actions are appropriate to realize ambition. Compare it to movies like Rudy, also about the achievement of a dream. It's not the dream that differs here as much as how it's achieved. It might be fun for kids to talk about the theater and how it differs from movies. Take them to a local production, or get a book of plays for children from the library and help them produce one.
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