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One of the cool things about retro-watching classic Hollywood films are the secondary screens listing the secondary actors and actresses. For example, take "All About Eve" (1950): And I have to give yet-another shout-out to Edith Head, who has won more Academy Awards (8) than any woman in history (Walt Disney has her beat with 22, which could be a difficult number to surpass): : I know two things about "All About Eve" going into the film: 1) It's one of the most famous movies ever made, and 2) I know nothing else about it. That is a *good* combination - I know it has Bette Davis in it (and also Marilyn Monroe from the above screen - if it's even possible, you might not recognize her at first unless you knew she was in the film (*)), and that it won an Academy Award for Best Picture from 1950, but that's about it - if I were writing a review of the film, you'd be getting a *v-e-r-y* pure critique, but I can hardly call what I do "reviews" so much as "calls for discussion" (because I want to enjoy the movie). I'm on the border of doing a separate thread for Gary Merrill - I've seen him in more than enough things where he deserves one: Likewise George Sanders, who not only plays the entitled critic Addison DeWitt in "All About Eve," but also played the scoundrel Jack Favell ten years before in "Rebecca." I've seen so many of these actors over the past month - Hugh Marlowe (who played Lloyd Richards) was an important character in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," released just a year after this was. And can anyone give a better "eat-shit" look than Bette Davis? *** SPOILER ALERT *** We all "know what happens" at the beginning of the film; it's how we get there that's the mystery. Yet, there are hints and clues throughout the movie (Eve (Anne Baxter) getting caught preening in front of the mirror with Margo's (Bette Davis's) gorgeous dress, for example). Interestingly, the one brash person in the world of Margo - Birdie (Thelma Ritter) - is also the one who plays the fool, and I mean the Fool in King Lear: Pay attention to everything she says in the film so you don't need to watch it twice. (*) This is such a great screen shot - remember my comment above about Marilyn Monroe. You can't really see Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), but it captures the essence of the three females *so well* (remember, Monroe wasn't famous yet, and she has a very minor role, but it still represents her in a picture-perfect way): A very interesting thing I noticed about "All About Eve" is the motif in the theme song, which is repeated in numerous places throughout the film - the first five notes are *exactly* the same as the first five notes in that of "Gone with the Wind." Perhaps my favorite exchange of dialogue in the film, between a furious Margo Channing (Davis, the actress) and an equally furious Lloyd Richards (Marlowe, the playwright). An angry screaming match: Richards: "Just when does an actress decide they're her words she's saying, and her thoughts she's expressing?" Channing: "Usually at the point when she has to rewrite and rethink them, to keep the audience from leaving the theater!" Richards: "It's about time the piano realized it has *not* written the concerto!" One thing about Addison DeWitt, the rogue theater critic: He knows what he's doing. Yes, he's corrupt as hell, but he still knows what he's doing, and only someone so full of self-interest would take the time to do the research that he did, all about Eve. If you understand the symbolism of this final scene, I like you, and want you to be a frequent poster in this forum; if you don't, please keep at it, watch as many great movies as you can, read as much as your time permits, and let's discuss things along the way. Likewise, if you understand why this is a genuinely great motion picture, but possibly a touch overrated, please also be a regular contributor (I don't really know why I'm saying these things, because I want everyone to be regular contributors here). "All About Eve" is a must-see for all serious students of film.
Believe it or not, "The Seven Year Itch" is the first film I've ever seen with Marilyn Monroe in it. I see in the opening credits that they'll be using Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #2 - this could be fun, painful, or anything in-between. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Speaking of painful, there's the beginning, where the "Manhattan Indians" send their wives and children away to escape the summer heat: RIchard Sherman (Tom Ewell), the middle-aged man left in Manhattan while his wife and son go up to Maine to escape the summer heat, plays his role with comic aplomb. He's got "that face" you've seen before, and I remember seeing him in the Emmy Award-winning, first-season episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "The Case of Mr. Pellham" (Season 1, Episode 10) - I guess 1955 was his Ewell's year. Ewell played this role on Broadway also, so he's well-practiced playing the part (and, so far, a perfect choice). Monroe and Ewell start off (I'm writing this as I'm watching) playing their parts with perfect comic ease - Sherman is hilariously smitten with Monroe's character (who has yet to be named), and Monroe is using that "dumb blond" voice which is making Sherman melt. Oh, and the Second Concerto is put to good use here! It's playing itself, not some corny "theme music," and so far it's working out in the best, most respectful way that I could possibly hope for. I'm only thirty minutes into the movie, but up until the point where he's (role-)playing the concerto in a fancy dinner jacket, this movie is just a *great* comedy, and both the acting and the music are delighting me to no end. And it fades into a "dance" that Sherman does with the building janitor, Kruhulik (Robert Strauss) which is so appropriate at this moment - it's like being forced to take a cold shower, and their back-and-forth really adds something to the hilarity of the moment. When I say "hilarious" and "hilarity," and rave about the first 30-40 minutes of this film; I haven't actually laughed at all - I'm just *highly* amused. Seven Year Itch isn't "laugh-out-loud" funny; it's "little giggle" funny, but it's just *so* well-done to this point, and an unexpected joy to watch - I was prepared for something of much lesser quality: Hopefully, it will maintain throughout the film, and if it does, then it must surely be considered one of the great comedy classics - I know it's "famous," but I don't know if it's "lauded" - I haven't looked yet, and am not going to until the film is finished. Goof: When Sherman runs for the refrigerator to get ice for Monroe's visit, he opens a refrigerator, not a freezer (there's a bottle of milk in there); yet, there's a perfectly frozen bowl of ice cubes. I guess this isn't a "goof" so much as a "who cares" - this movie wasn't designed to over-analyze. Aaannnnnnnd ... there's the second roller skate. This is the second film I've recently seen from 1955 that uses the term "tomato" to humorously (and indirectly) refer to a good-looking girl (the first was "Marty," in the scene where Marty's mom is trying to talk him into going to the nightclub - she told him that she heard that it has "lots of tomatoes" (not knowing what the term meant). Another thing I've noticed from TV shows and films from this era is just how popular soda (I'm talking club soda) was as a mixer back then. Seemingly *everyone* has "scotch and soda," "gin and soda," and so-forth. This has nothing whatsoever to do with "The Seven Year Itch," but I've seen it now probably dozens of times. When Monroe runs for the door to get the Champagne, rewind it and look at her shoes: She slides across the floor about a foot while stopping - I'm not sure if this was a mistake or a planned move, but it took some coordination on her part not to fall (not to over-analyze, but I think based on the way she bends her knees, this was a choreographed move; not an accident). Tragically, Marilyn does "The Tongue Thing." But all is forgiven. The look you make upon discovering Marilyn Monroe is in your friend's apartment: This film is much better than I thought it would be: It's genuinely funny, sweet, somewhat innocent, and just good, fun escapism. To state the obvious, Marilyn Monroe was *great* at playing a ditzy blonde, and I don't mean that sarcastically. Incidentally, Alfred Newman (who did the music) is Randy Newman's uncle.