Eve (Anne Baxter) is waiting backstage to meet her idol, aging Broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis). It seems innocent enough as Eve explains that she has seen Margo in EVERY performance of her current play. Only playwright/critic DeWitt (George Sanders) sees through Eve's evil plan, which is to take her parts and her fiancé, Bill Simpson (Gary Merrill). When the fiancé shows no interest, she tries for playwright Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), but DeWitt stops her. After she accepts her award, she decides to skip the after-party and goes to her room, where a young woman named Phoebe has sneaked into her room and fallen asleep. This is where the "Circle of Life" now comes to fruition as Eve will get played like she played Margo.
Here's perfect writing if ever a movie ever had it-where did Joseph L. Mankiewicz come up with these people? Who would have thought he could not only revive Bette Davis' career with her greatest-ever role, but actually make her even more fascinating than she ever was before? Davis plays famous and established actress Margo Channing, a self-centred and tough but vulnerable woman who is purused relentlessly by Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), a seemingly innocent woman who worships Channing-she even becomes her personal assistant. However, her devotion soon becomes sinister, and Margo lets her friends know, though they just think she's being selfish and unfair. Celeste Holm is excellent as Margo's best friend, who at first is on Eve's side but eventually sees how conniving Eve can be and how ruthless she is in climbing to the top. The party scene early on in the film features some of the film's best lines (`Fasten your seat belts it's going to be a bumpy night!'), though my personal favourite is when Davis tells Baxter to put her award `where you heart should be'; Margo Channing is just about the best female character of the fifties. Features Marilyn Monroe in an early role.
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