L.S. Klepp
March 31, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

All About All About Eve

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Sam Staggs
publisher
St. Martin's Press
genre
Movies, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

”Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night,” says Bette Davis, launching the cocktail party scene in the wittiest movie Hollywood ever made. The cocktail party scene, of course, is where Marilyn Monroe made an auspicious early screen appearance as Miss Casswell, ”a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art,” according to her escort, the venomous critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders). If you’ve savored the perfect dialogue and serpentine plot of All About Eve, which swept six Oscars in 1951, you’ll savor All About All About Eve, which approaches the film from every angle, including the real-life theatrical intrigue that inspired it and all relevant affairs, feuds, catty anecdotes, and career trajectories. Staggs conjures up the cult that quickly arose around the film, and at times his book turns into a hairsplitting and far-fetched theological exegesis of subtexts that preaches only to the converted, but like Joseph Mankiewicz’s cynical script, it’s usually too busy being sharp-tongued to preach. B+

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