One of our friends used to say that there was a line in the film All About Eve to cover every situation one might encounter in life.
A bit of a stretch, but it IS one of the most literate scripts ever filmed. Although it concerns the competitive world of theatre and theatrical types, the story resonates with people of ALL professions.
We rarely devote our Monday Quiz to a single movie. A big star we like? Of course. A director or two that we like? Perhaps. But a single movie? Almost never.
We are making an exception today not only because we have long cherished 1950’s All About Eve.
We also received a jolt of inspiration from a belated reading of author Sam Staggs most informative 2000 tome, All About ‘All About Eve’, which is indeed all about Eve, and convincingly makes the case that while the movie is about the Broadway stage and not Hollywood, it nonetheless amounted to exploratory surgery on the dysphoric underbelly of show business.
You probably are aware that the movie was directed and written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and that its superb cast includes Bette Davis (seen above left being eyed by Gary Merrill) as Broadway diva Margo Channing, Anne Baxter (an actress we especially like, seen above right) as the deviously driven Eve Harrington, George Sanders (seen above far right) as dyspeptic theater critic Addison DeWitt and Marilyn Monroe in the small but effective role of Miss Casswell, Sander’s date for the night and “a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art.”
How much else do you know about All About Eve? Let’s find out by taking our Monday Quiz. As usual, questions today, answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Which one of the following actresses was first choice for the role of Margo Channing, which eventually went to Bette Davis? a) Tallulah Bankhead; b) Claudette Colbert; c) Barbara Stanwyck; or d) Marlene Dietrich.
2) Question: Who was the real inspiration for the tempestuous character of Margo Channing? a) Bette Davis; b) Joan Crawford; c) Tallulah Bankhead or d) Rosa Stradner.
3) Question: When 20th Century Fox mogul Darryl Zanuck first approached Bette Davis about taking the Margo Channing role, Davis pretty much blew him off as an imposter. a) True; b) False?
4) Question: Which of the following competed with George Sanders for the role of theater critic Addison DeWitt? a) Jose Ferrer; b) Clifton Webb; c) Claude Rains or d) Vincent Price.
5) Question: What explains the throaty, raspy quality we hear when Bette Davis speaks her lines as Margo Channing? Did the actress deliberately lower her voice to achieve this effect? a) Yes; b) No.
6) Question: All About Eve had several incarnations prior to the Mankiewicz movie version. Which of the following did NOT precede the film? a) The Wisdom of Eve short story; b) The Wisdom of Eve radio play; c) All About Eve radio version; or d) Applause stage musical.
7) Question: Which All About Eve cast member received the biggest career boost from appearing in the picture? a) Marilyn Monroe; b) Thelma Ritter; c) Gary Merrill; or d) Celeste Holm.
8) Question: Ronald and Nancy Reagan had a connection to the casting of All About Eve that even they didn’t know about. Can you guess what it is? (Hint: They were not married at the time the movie was made.)
9) Question: The cast of All About Eve boasts the inclusion of one of America’s foremost Shakespearean stage actors. Who was he? a) Gregory Ratoff; b) Hugh Marlowe; c) Walter Hampden; or d) George Sanders.
10) Question: How did Anne Baxter manage to play BOTH Eve Harrington and Margo Channing?