This movie was based on a short story which itself was based on a true event. It’s also one of Bette Davis’ most memorable films.
Davis plays Margo Channing, a well-loved but aging Broadway star. She is surrounded by a coterie that includes her good friend Karen Richards (played by Celeste Holm), her husband and playwright Lloyd Richards (played by Hugh Marlowe), and Margo’s paramour Bill Sampson (played by Gary Merrill). There is also Margo’s no-nonsense assistant Birdie (played with devilish delight by the awesome Thelma Ritter).
And then there’s Eve Harrington (played by Anne Baxter). Poor little Eve, who seems to attend Margo’s performances almost obsessively. One rainy night, when Margo’s friends spot Eve
moping around loitering outside the theater, they invite her in and make the introductions.
Eve, who initially comes off as a naïve, starstruck girl, ingratiates her way into Margo’s confidence. Only Birdie (who ends up losing her job to Eve) sees right through her act from the start. Well, other than the audience, that is. 🙂
However, as Eve increasingly
dominates assists Margo, the star suspects the protege isn’t the innocent she first thought.
The film is notable for the outstanding performances and the excellent script, in which conflict builds between all the main characters. In my opinion, Bette Davis does her best work in this one. Margo may be a brassy Broadway veteran, but she reveals a vulnerable side. Further, the part of Eve, which could be played with nary a human emotion, is softened a bit when she meets her match in acid-tongued theatre critic Addison DeWitt (played to the hilt by George Sanders).
Of course, the most memorable line goes to Bette Davis: “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
Without revealing the ending, I’ll only say that the movie ends on a note that contrasts the old guard (Broadway) with the new (Hollywood). And suggests that, despite the transition, nothing ever really changes.
The film also has a small speaking part for the young and still unknown Marilyn Monroe.