Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

THE THREE FACES OF EVE

Joanne Woodward and Ken Scott
THE THREE FACES OF EVE (1957). Director: Nunnally Johnson.

Timid Eve White (Joanne Woodward of A Kiss Before Dying) acts strangely at times, so her husband, Ralph (David Wayne), takes her to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Luthor (Lee J. Cobb of Boomerang). During their interview, a different, sexier personality named Eve Black emerges. While Luthor and a colleague at first suspect that Mrs. White is faking, they come to the conclusion that she has multiple personality disorder. Her husband can't quite buy this, and her already troubled marriage begins to disintegrate. Then a third personality, "Jane," makes its presence known ... The Three Faces of Eve is based on a non-fiction book by a psychiatrist, so it's introduced and narrated by Alistair Cooke (who is himself "introduced" in this picture) to let the audience know this is real and serious. Whatever the reality of Eve and multiple personalities, this is an absorbing picture thanks primarily to the performance of Woodward, who won the best actress Oscar. [The part was originally to go to Judy Garland, who would have been interesting.] Woodward is subtle in her effects, never once over-acting, and is moving at times as well. Cobb is also excellent, but David Wayne is ludicrously miscast as the ignorant, stumbling husband, and his attempts to portray him are "Hollywood" acting at its worst. Ken Scott [Desire in the Dust] makes more of an impression as a man who falls in love with "Jane." Nancy Kulp [Strange Bedfellows] is cast as Eve's mother in a brief flashback. One suspects that the reasons for Eve's trauma and her developing this disorder have been cleaned up for the screen. The best sequence has Eve White talking to the doctor and realizing that she -- that is, her personality -- doesn't have much longer to live, and doesn't care. Which begs the question: when a personality disappears does it also, in essence, die? This is much better than the knock-off Lizzie which came out later the same year. Unlike that movie Eve doesn't equate sexuality with evil.

Verdict: Intelligent look at a weird and troubling problem. ***. 


1 comment:

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