All About Eve

“It’s all about women—and their men!” runs the tagline for 1950’s All About Eve. No, not really. It’s scarcely about men at all. The two male leads, Gary Merrill as Bill Simpson and Hugh Marlowe as Lloyd Richards—or is it Bill Simpson as Hugh Marlowe and Lloyd Richards as Gary Merrill?—are such blandly handsome nullities it hardly matters. No, this haute-camp backstage melodrama, with an inexhaustibly quotable script by director Joseph Mankiewicz, belongs to the women—and I include George Sanders, as the purring, epicene theahtah critic Addison DeWitt, in that category. Meoww. Anne Baxter, as the titular Eve, brilliantly uses a similar bland handsomeness as a weapon; only gradually do you realize just how icily, pathologically ambitious she is. Brrr. Marilyn Monroe, plenty titular herself, contributes a potent cameo as a vacant starlet; Thelma Ritter out-wisecracks any actress before or since; and even Celeste Holm, as a nice-girl still center amid the swirling bitchery, scores more vividly than the guys. But soaring overhead, of course, is Bette Davis, in an iconic role as Margo Channing, the stage actress fighting to keep Eve’s star from eclipsing hers. Hissss! Fasten your seatbelts: Eve and William Wyler’s The Letter (1940) run as a double-feature through Thurs., April 17. Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935, $5-$8. 6:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT

April 11-17, 6:30 p.m., 2008

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