“Fasten your seat belts, It’s going to be a bumpy night.” says Margo Channing as she looks over the balcony during her boyfriend’s party. And this is certainly a bumpy film. RottenTomatoes.com lists this as the second best of the Best Picture Winners behind The Godfather. So a lot of buildup for this movie, eh. I went into this movie open minded, but skeptical that it could actually be better than Casablanca. But, knowing it was my duty to watch all of these films, I popped the DVD in.
Wow. Wow. Honest to God, wow! This film.. I just want to watch it again and again! I.. I don’t even know where to start!
Let’s start with the plot. Eve Harrington, (Anne Baxter) is a homeless girl and the worlds biggest fan of broadway star Margo Channing. (Bette Davis) The two meet and eventually Eve gets a job as Channing’s servant and meets Channing’s other servant, (Thelma Ritter) her playwright, (George Sanders) and his wife (Celeste Holm). All while becoming more and more familiar with the ways of show business.
Going into this film, I thought ‘Okay, I know how it’s going to go. It’s your typical rags to riches story where she becomes famous and gets a boyfriend and has to shove Davis out of the way to finally get her deserved place in the spotlight.’ Actually, that’s not what happens at all. First of all, I found that Davis wasn’t your typical spotlight obsessed villain. She was quite sad and well aware that her old age was preventing her from getting good parts. (Meryl Streep begs to differ.) I was surprisingly loving Davis’ performance and truly felt sorry for her. Plus, as it turns out, Eve may not be as nice as we thought. Baxter’s performance starts out rather bland but gets very interesting near the end. The other performances were very well done, but none of the supporting cast can compare to the two leads.
And then there’s the screenplay. This is the kind of screenplay that they teach in screenwriter’s college, the kind that all potential young writers should read. There is plenty of foreshadowing that is so much more subtle than the last film I reviewed, and the dialogue is very quotable. The film won six academy awards and was nominated for eight additional awards, tying with Titanic as the two most nominated films in Oscar history. And I’ll say it deserved every last nomination it got.
It’s hard to talk too much about this film without giving a bunch of stuff away, and that’s because this is one of those films that just gets better and better as it goes on. I actually think this might be better than Casablanca for the sheer reason that I want to re-watch it the moment it’s done. It’s a film I plan to watch a lot in my lifetime, and if you haven’t seen it, I have one thing to say.
P.S. As if you didn’t have enough reason to see the film, Marilyn Monroe makes a brief cameo.