ALL ABOUT EVE
Fasten your seat belts; it's going to be a bumpy night!
-- Bette Davis as Margo Channing in ALL ABOUT EVE
There is very little one can say about ALL ABOUT EVE ($20) that hasn’t already been said- countless times. Therefore it is quite possible that there will be a sense of familiarity running through this review of the Academy Award Winning Best Picture of 1950. Without a doubt, ALL ABOUT EVE is one of the smartest and best-written films in the history of the cinema. Much of writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s witty, acid tongued dialogue simply crackles, resonating in one’s mind before inducing a sharp, biting laugh. Of course, there is a possibility that the dialogue might not have flown quite so high had it not been for the pitch perfect delivery of the film’s accomplished cast, especially Bette Davis and George Sanders. Bette Davis was seldom better than in her Oscar Nominated role as Broadway diva Margo Channing. Then again, neither was Oscar Winner George Sanders as the venomous theater critic Addison DeWitt.
The plot of ALL ABOUT EVE tells one all about Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a star struck fan of Margo Channing, who ingratiates herself into the life of the aging Broadway actress. At first, Eve seems perfect like the perfect employee, always ready, willing and eager to meet all of Margo’s needs- including those she didn’t know she had. However, Margo begins to suspect that Eve is too good to be true, and when it is seemingly too late, everyone discovers that Eve was in truth a master manipulator, who took everyone in Margo’s circle of friends for a ride they won’t soon forget. The sublime cast of ALL ABOUT EVE also features Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Gregory Ratoff, Barbara Bates, Marilyn Monroe and Thelma Ritter.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made ALL ABOUT EVE available on DVD in a wonderful looking full screen transfer that frames the movie in its proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. This terrific transfer comes from newly minted black and white film elements that have also been further cleaned up through video restoration. This edition offers a huge improvement over the previous DVD and Laserdisc releases of the film. Resolution is far better and the image is much cleaner looking- displaying only the most minor of blemishes. Additionally, the grain structure is much finer and contrast is significantly improved. Blacks have a terrific inky quality, while the whites appear crisper. Darker sequences provide have greater detail, unlike the previous editions, which had a murky quality. Digital compression artifacts never make their presence known on this cleanly authored DVD.
ALL ABOUT EVE comes with a pleasant sounding Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack, which sounds more like artificially thickened monaural than actual stereo. Most of the background hiss and surface noise has been cleaned away, leaving a crisp, clean sound. Of course, one should note that ALL ABOUT EVE earned an Academy Award for Best Sound in 1950, although the relevance of that fact is probably lost due to the fact that the recordings are more than half a century old and do not hold a candle to today’s state-of-the-art digital soundtracks. Still, ALL ABOUT EVE is a dialogue driven film, and the soundtrack renders each and every syllable of Mankiewicz’s wonderfully witty verbiage with total clarity and complete intelligibility. French and Spanish language tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.
The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplemental features. ALL ABOUT EVE features two separate running audio commentaries; the first is with the director’s son Christopher Mankiewicz, actress Celeste Holm, and Mankiewicz biographer Kenneth Geist, while the second features author Sam Staggs, who wrote All About All About Eve. Both commentaries are very interesting and cover the production of the film and personalities involved in detail. However, on the first track, Holm is heard from very little and this particular commentary might have been a bit more cohesive if all three parties had been recorded together. Another supplemental highlight is the AMC Backstory: All About Eve, a twenty-four minute program that offers another look back on the making of this Academy Award winning classic. Two short promotional clips with Bette Davis and Ann Baxter are also provided on the DVD, as are various MovieTone News clips pertaining to ALL ABOUT EVE and a theatrical trailer. Closing out the supplements is a restoration demonstration that compares the current DVD release of ALL ABOUT EVE to previous video incarnations.
ALL ABOUT EVE remains one of the sharpest, most intelligent and entertaining films ever made; after all it does still hold the record for the most Academy Award nominations- 14, a feat that has only been equaled by TITANIC. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has done an impressive job with the DVD, making ALL ABOUT EVE look far better than it has in quite some time. Additionally, the DVD offers some very nice supplemental features, making the disc (with internet discounting) a genuine bargain. If you are a movie buff or a Bette Davis fan, you must own this edition of ALL ABOUT EVE.
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