Vintage performances. This is the story of two actresses. One is established, but is arriving at the sunset of her career (Bette Davis). The other is up and coming, and worships the former’s every move (Anne Baxter). This can only go on so long before everything comes to a head. This is one of the best acting movies that you can take the time to watch. Every single performance is a powerhouse, and tying it all together is the wonderful Bette Davis as Margo Channing, one of the most well rounded female characters brought to life on film.
Paging Kim Carnes.
It is truly riveting to see this story play out, and while it is certainly a powerful ensemble piece, make no mistake: it is the Bette Davis show. She is playing such a tragic character, and while her big theatrics may be what is most remembered about from this (“fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”), there is actually a whole lot of subtlety to her performance. She can pull off emotions that don’t have to be overblown, like insecure, or proud, and you fully get where her head is at during every single moment of this. You can read between the lines, showing the subtext behind them: hatred, jealousy and cynicism. It’s truly a performance for the ages. There’s always not a storm brewing underneath the surface, but a category 5 hurricane, and you don’t get to see something like this just any old day of the week.
I could go on and on about how flooring Bette Davis’ performance is (and believe me I could), but the supporting cast shouldn’t be understated, either. I love the sick psychology of it all, specifically with Anne Baxter; she is more or less becoming someone else, and the vicarious nature of this movie is downright disturbing when you stop to think about it. There’s always a glisten in her eye, and it isn’t long before you realize that she knows exactly what she is doing; she doesn’t care about forcing the issue, allowing her aging idol to feel completely vulnerable to youth. I love the ending of this, showing how truly cyclical this story is, and I can’t recommend this enough. I have a familiarity with the theatre, so I got an extra layer out of it, but this is absolutely mandatory viewing for anybody who is a fan of film as a whole.
All About Eve (1950) *****
– Critic for Hire