ALL ABOUT EVE CRITERION COLLECTION BLU RAY REVIEW

‘Fasten your seatbelts, your in for a bumpy ride’.

ALL ABOUT EVE. The film is legendary. Its spread is deep and rich. I know it for a multitude of things, having written at least two essays on it. Others in the film universe know it for many other taglines. Those ‘Greatest lines in cinema’ debate. Its pivotal position as the end of the old and beginning of the new. Delightful production history. Tied as most Oscar nominated film. All star cast and so much more to offer you as incentive to watch. Gosh you already have seen this film, if you are a fan of cinema, artistry, Davis, Mankiewicz, Hollywood cinema and of course golden age films.

Margo Channing (BETTE DAVIS) was on top of the theatre world. Now Eve Harrington (ANNE BAXTER) is on top. She even has an award being handed to her in honour of her. She was once a small country no one standing outside of a dressing-room. An adoring fan. Rain soaked and spending all her money on watching Margo’s play. This draws interest. Draws her into the world of show.  However as she enters that door to the business, to Margo’s world, gone is the naïve country girl. Eve has become something else. She is pivotal in Margo’s life now. But then Margo senses something. So do others like GEORGE SANDERS (Rebecca), who was a critic and now is in admiration of Eve, for her many vices.

ALL ABOUT EVE is such a good film that it hurts. A snarling, venomous take down of the artist community, American values and its manifestation in the world of theatre. I could speak for hours about its feminist values, its eloquent screenplay or its direction. However, you look anywhere in the world of the web or academic texts, you can read all about this. Ad nausea. I will sum up like this. ALL ABOUT EVE defines how the great Hollywood films of the classic studio era, transferred to the era of the director via the incorporation of theatrics. This is not to stay that theatre was not a part of the screen but it was removed from it. Now instead we have a return. Staging, craft, performance and aesthetics merge again. You cant unpick the film from Joseph L Mankiewicz lexicon of works but you also cant separate the film from the various  independents of the later age.

DISC

A 4K transfer can be many things to many people indeed. In truth, I have seen this 4K transfer before, screened at the BFI vaults. I was lucky enough to see it thanks to my former college lecturers knowing my obsession with the film. Does it change the film. No. Does it upgrade the standard DVD version. Yes. The 1080p Blu release. Just about. Its biggest win is in depth of field. That lovely cinematography of smoke filled rooms and drink fumed people.  You can see the depth of greys finally. Black, white and those GREYS! This means the background is tonal. You can decipher an end point. It rarely helps with narrative but it has never looked that good at all.

EXTRAS

I didnt care for the older commentaries. Not that they aren’t great, more that they have been on older versions for an age. All About Mankiewicz which I have seen before, is dynamite. Mankiewicz is a marvel. Mysterious. Magnetic. Its quality should have been improved but it is an unpicking of a behemoth. Hollywood Backstories: is a bog standard covering but one that is, in itself really really sufficient for an over view. That word is not a good word. It is a word.

Special Features:

  • 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Two audio commentaries from 2010, one featuring actor Celeste Holm, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s son Christopher Mankiewicz, and author Kenneth L. Geist; the other featuring author Sam Staggs
  • All About Mankiewicz, a feature-length documentary from 1983 about the director
  • Episodes of The Dick Cavett Show from 1969 and 1980 featuring actors Bette Davis and Gary Merrill New interview with costume historian Larry McQueen
  • Hollywood Backstories: “All About Eve,” a 2001 documentary featuring interviews with Davis and others about the making of the film
  • Documentaries from 2010 about Mankiewicz’s life and career, the short story on which the film is based and its real-world inspiration, and a real-life “Sarah Siddons Society” based on the film’s fictional society
  • Radio adaptation of the film from 1951
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Terrence Rafferty and the 1946 short story on which the film is based

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