Thursday, January 17, 2008

All About Eve

All About Eve

“Miss Casswell is an actress, a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art.” - George Sanders as Addison Dewitt, a critic, introducing Marilyn Monroe as Claudia Casswell. My favourite line from this movie, which is composed entirely of fantastic lines.

I have wanted to see this movie for ages, and took the opportunity to see it at the Curzon in Mayfair when it came out on re-release just before Christmas. The thought of seeing this remastered old classic (1950) on the silver screen was exciting; slightly disappointing therefore that the Curzon Screen 2 is just about the size of an overgrown domestic plasma screen!

The film richly deserves its classic status, with a wonderful script by Joseph L Mankiewicz and great performances.

I was very struck however by the gender politics on view.

Actresses complain about the lack of good roles for women today; this movie contains 3 totally central female roles. It is the message these roles convey which is odd. The women are the protagonists of the story, with the men virtually oblivious adjuncts to a female cat-fight. In terms of the power structures in the story’s theatre world, however, the men dominate: as playwright; director; producer and critic. The only power available to women in this world is as the star – Bette Davis as Margo Channing is the archetypal diva-bitch.

Margo’s foregoing of a plum role in favour of her relationship with her man is seen as her salvation as a woman. The movie contrasts this with Anne Bancroft’s Eve, whose ruthless ambition is depicted as completely without limits.

No comments: