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Old January 12 2011, 04:19 AM   #44
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Location: Charlottetown, PEI, Canada
Re: Movies Seen in 2011

1. In the Heat of the Night (A+)
2. The Passion of Joan of Arc (B)
3. The Passion of the Christ (A)
4. Mamma Mia! (B)
5. All About Eve (A-)

I vacillated on the grade for this one, between A- and A+, and eventually I settled on A-; I may revise that later.

I recall seeing part of this on TV once before, but I hadn't watched the whole thing before now. There was one of those random DVD collections on sale for $23, and I figured that was a good price for five Best Picture winners (this, Gentleman's Agreement, How Green Was My Valley, The Sound of Music, The French Connection; no, those really don't have much in common, really; two of them have Celeste Holm, but that's about it).

James Berardinelli, among others, has said that this film has one of the best screenplays ever written, and in terms of dialogue, I'd say there's a good chance that's true. Everybody's consistently witty. Addison DeWitt, in particular, is quite a marvelous creation, and it's fitting that both the writer and the actor won Oscars for him (George Sanders' voice is, of course, familiar to fans of The Jungle Book). This is Bette Davis' iconic role as well, and she's likewise extremely watchable. The aforementioned Celeste Holm (still alive today, in fact) provides probably the most emotionally unpretentious of the major characters. The guys are good, but, apart from DeWitt, much less memorable.

My main reservation at rating the film higher is that, frankly, I don't buy Eve herself at all. Anne Baxter plays her extremely well, and every individual scene works just fine, but I didn't think what her character does in the course of the film was at all plausible. Too many coincidences and too many things that couldn't possibly have been controlled or anticipated (and if she's that talented, why does she even need to?). There's also the Birdie character (Thelma Ritter, playing basically the same character she did in Rear Window), who abruptly vanishes without explanation (did Eve fit her for a pair of cement shoes between acts?).

A very good movie, nonetheless.
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