A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1950 – All About Eve
Oh, this one is a tough one. Because at first glance, I’d want to go Sunset Boulevard. Because it’s really iconic. But I’ve done a few noirs, and, while it’s a really iconic film, I feel like it’s not the singular choice. It’s a choice, and certainly a right choice. But for this list, All About Eve is just as good a choice, and is about a subject I haven’t really broached yet: melodrama.
The other thing this film is about, which is a bit of a trend around this era, is show business. There are quite a few films that go behind the scenes of Broadway or Hollywood, and, in their own ways, are scathing critiques of the stuff that goes on behind closed doors there. I’m thinking about stuff like The Bad and the Beautiful. This is also one of those movies. Since it really is about those people who are desperate for fame and are willing to do anything and undercut anyone to get there.
But anyway, All About Eve is an iconic picture, a woman’s picture, and a great, great film. Now let’s get to talking about it. Or else it’ll be a bumpy night.
The melodrama is a vital part of film history. Bette Davis made a career out of the melodrama. And the woman’s picture. I love that this film is both. The woman’s picture is a self-explanatory type of movie: it’s a series of films that deal with the problems of women. The genre peaked around World War II. Most people think of it in the same vein as melodrama, which is kind of a generalization about broads. They’re not the same thing, but based on how Hollywood dealt with women, there’s a lot of overlap between the two. The most important thing is that the woman’s picture puts the woman at the center. That’s the only thing. And All About Eve has that in spades.
The melodrama, now, is more of a heightened type of film. The characters are more stereotypical, and everything is done at a level where they’re straddling drama and being over the top. Look at a Douglas Sirk movie. The emotions are so high, there are points where you actually do laugh at it. Or you see something like The Valley of the Dolls, where everything is so melodramatic, it actually becomes camp, because it’s way too over the top.
This film is a great example of melodrama, as everyone has a great theatrical personality. They’re all so good. George Sanders especially. Man, is he great in this.
The other interesting thing is how the other major choice from this year, Sunset Boulevard, also deals with an aging actress. Both films are, in a way, about the reality of older women in show business.
The thing I love most about this movie is how it sweeps you up in the drama. You don’t want to get involved, but you do, and it’s glorious. You don’t want anything to do with these people, but everything is just so juicy, you can’t help but keep watching. I used to think for the longest time Sunset Boulevard was the far superior film. But honestly, they’re completely on par. They’re different sides of a coin, and they’re both incredible films. Both would have been amazing choices for this year.