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

Thursday, September 9, 2010

ALL ABOUT "ALL ABOUT EVE"


ALL ABOUT "ALL ABOUT EVE:" The Complete Behind the Scenes Story of the Bitchiest Film Ever Made. Sam Staggs. St. Martin's; 2001.

There have been many books that focus on one single movie, but at first I thought it might be difficult to write an entire book on All About Eve, but Sam Staggs has pulled it off. This is a very thorough, well-researched, and well-written film book that will be sure to delight all the fans of the movie. He has interviewed everyone from Mary Orr, who wrote the original story upon which the film was based, to the very woman who claims to have been the inspiration for Eve Harrington, not to mention the sons of director Joseph Mankiewicz and other people actually involved with the production. He not only goes behind the scenes of the movie, but the musical Applause, which was based upon All About Eve. Dealing with the alleged homoerotic aspects of the film, it might be said that Staggs employs a kind of -- for lack of a better word -- old-fashioned gay sensibility [which is not without its charms]. At one point he writes: "In gay San Francisco, where nine out of ten men claim to do the best Bette Davis imitation you've ever heard" -- Frankly, this sort of stuff was a little dated even nine years ago when this book was first published. [The vast majority of gay men probably couldn't care less about Bette Davis and young gay men probably don't even know who she is!] But aside from that this book is obviously a labor of love, which comes through every page. And Stagg's recounting his difficulties with the ever-difficult [if talented] Celeste Holm makes for amusing reading. This book is just as entertaining as the movie.

Verdict: The last word -- one wonders -- on All About Eve. ***1/2.

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