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Bette Davis is Margo Channing, a huge Broadway star.  When she meets the young, starstruck Eve, Margo takes her under her wing, and gives Eve a home and a job.  But it’s not long before Eve shows her true colours when she starts scheming in an attempt to undermine Margo – attempting to steal Margo’s current stage role, her lover, and the adulation of the theatre world.

I had never seen this film before (older black and white movies were never something I thought to watch, until I saw Roman Holiday, which opened up a whole new era of classic films to me).  However, I would certainly watch it again – I thought it was excellent.  Bette Davis is simply mesmerising as Margo – she is charismatic and sexy, but insecure and can be exasperating to her partner and friends.  It’s no surprise that she was Oscar nominated for her role, but something of a shock that she didn’t win, because she is really superb, switching from witty to sarcastic to genuinely kind to insecure and tense.  Great support is provided by Celeste Holm as Margo’s best friend Karen, George Sanders as theatre critic Addison de Witt, Gary Merrill as Margo’s partner Bill, and Hugh Marlowe as playwright Lloyd Richards.  Anne Baxter plays the eponymous anti-heroine, and also received an Oscar nomination for the role – she was certainly great in this, but this film really belongs to Bette Davis.  (Davis was not the first choice for the film – Claudette Colbert was originally due to play Margo, but suffered a ruptured disc and was unable to do so.)

No spoilers about the ending here, but I did think the way the film finished was just about perfect.  This movie received fourteen Oscar nominations in total, and won six of the categories.  It’s easy to see why – some classics do stand the test of time and this is one of them.  I’m surprised that this is the first film starring Bette Davis that I have ever watched – but it certainly won’t be the last.  Marilyn Monroe also plays a small role in the film – and she certainly made the most of her screen time, with some excellent comedy timing.

Definitely a film worth watching – and rewatching.

Year of release: 1950

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Writers: Mary Orr (original short story), Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Main cast: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe

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