Then, there's this one that has been waiting in the wings for awhile, ending with the ninth greatest film dialogue of AFI's 100 Great Movie Quotes. The scene is full of great lines, zingers, bon mots and neat turns of phrase, zestily delivered, but that capper, timed for effect, presentation, and ominous portent has been embraced, borrowed, purloined, and championed by drama queens of both (and all) sexes.
As with the other September "Scenes," nothing much to say about it, other than sit back and enjoy. The movie doldrums appear to be ending. The upcoming season is going to be a busy one. And October at LNTAM is going to have a couple of "events:" one is Holiday-related (it is coming up on October) and one is a significant movie anniversary that gives me a golden opportunity to indulge in one of my favorite series to write about, and revisit.
Stay with us.
The Set-Up: Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is not in a role she wants to play. While beau Bill Simpson (Gary Merrill) has been off to Hollywood to direct a film, Margo has been having issues with problem she's none too acquainted with—self-doubt. She's worried about her relationship with Simpson—that he might have been stepping out with younger women on the West Coast—and her personal assistant Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), who seems to be encroaching on Margo's life. Before Simpson's combination welcome home/birthday party there's a little pre-function friction after Margo happens upon him talking to Eve. Once she leaves, Margo and Bill are reunited (where's that seat belt?).
(Eve)leaves. A short lull. Margo looks into cigarette boxes. Bill eyes her curiosity, crosses to the fire.
Looks like I'm going to have a very fancy party...
MARGO I thought you were going to be late-
BILL When I'm guest of honor?
MARGO I had no idea you were even here.
BILL I ran into Eve on my way upstairs; she told me you were dressing.
That never stopped you before.
Well, we started talking, she wanted to know all about Hollywood, she seemed so interested...
MARGO She's a girl of so many interests.
BILL It's a pretty rare quality these days.
MARGO She's a girl of so many rare qualities.
So she seems.
MARGO (the steel begins to flash) So you've pointed out, so
often. So many qualities, so often. Her loyalty, efficiency, devotion, warmth, affection - and so young. So young and so fair...
Bill catches the drift. Incredulously.
BILL I can't believe you're making this up - it sounds like something out of an old Clyde Fitch play...
Clyde Fitch, though you may not think so, was well before my time!
(laughs) I've always denied the legend that you were in 'Our American Cousin' the night Lincoln was shot...
I don't think that's funny!
Of course it's funny - this is all too laughable to be anything else. You know what I think about this - this age obsession of yours - and now this ridiculous attempt to whip yourself up into a jealous froth because I spent ten minutes with a stage-struck kid-
MARGO Twenty minutes!
BILL Thirty minutes, forty minutes! What of it?
MARGO Stage-struck kid... she's a young lady - of qualities.
MARGO And I'll have you know I'm fed up with both the young lady and her qualities! Studying me as if - as if I were a play or a set of blueprints!
How I walk, talk, think, eat, sleep!
BILL Now how can you take offense at a kid trying in every way to be as much like her ideal as possible!
Stop calling her a kid!
It so happens there are particular aspects of my life to which I would like to maintain sole and exclusive rights and privileges!
For instance what?
For instance - you!
This is my cue to take you in my arms and reassure you - but I'm not going to. I'm too mad-
Darling, there are certain characteristics for which you are famous - on stage and off. I love you for some of them - and in spite of others. I haven't let those become too important to me. They're part of your equipment for getting along in what is laughably called out environment - you've got to keep your teeth sharp. All right. But you will not sharpen them on me - or on Eve...
MARGO What about her teeth? What about her fangs?
BILL She hasn't cut them yet, and you know it! So when you start judging an idealistic dreamy-eyed kid by the barroom, Benzedrine standards of this megalomaniac society - I won't have it!
Eve Harrington has never by word, look, thought or suggestion indicated anything to me but her adoration for you and her happiness at our being in love! And to intimate anything else doesn't spell jealousy to me - it spells a paranoic insecurity that you should be ashamed of!
Cut! Print it! What happens in the next reel? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pit?
EVE'S VOICE (quietly) Miss Channing?
Bill and Margo look off. Eve is in the room. They have no way of knowing how long she's been there.
EVE The hors d'oeuvres are here. Is there anything else I can do?
Thank you, Eve. I'd like a Martini - very dry.
I'll get it.
(he crosses to Eve)
What'll you have?
Eve, involuntarily, looks to Margo.
Eve smiles, turns to Bill.
EVE A Martini. Very dry, please...
Bill smiles back and starts across the landing toward the pantry. As he crosses the stairs, Karen, Lloyd and Max come up from the street level below. General greetings. Bill continues up to pantry. Eve and then Margo come up to add their welcome...
(to Karen) May I have your coat?
KAREN Don't bother, I can take it up myself...
Karen yields with a "thank you, Eve-." Eve goes up with the coat. Lloyd looks after her approvingly.
I like that girl. That quality of quiet graciousness... MARGO ... Among so many quiet qualities.
They start for the living room.
Margo, nothing you've ever done has made me as happy as your taking Eve in...
MARGO I'm so happy you're happy.
MAX Look, you haven't been running a settlement house exactly - the kid's earned her way. You had a pretty mixed-up inventory when she took over - merchandise laying all over the shop...
LLOYD You've got Margo mixed up with a five-and-ten-cent store...
MARGO Make it Bergdorf Goodman... and now everything is on its proper shelf, eh, Max? Done up in little ribbons.
I could die right now and nobody'd be confused. How about you, Max?
How about me what? They've come to a halt near the fireplace.
Supposed you dropped dead. What about your inventory?
I ain't gonna die. Not with a hit.
KAREN This is the most ghoulish conversation...
Bill brings two Martinis. He hands one to Margo.
(it drips ice) Thank you.
BILL Nothing, really...
The kid - junior, that is - will be right down. Unless you'd like to take her drink up to her...
BILL (smiles) I can always get a fresh one. Karen - you're a Gibson girl...
He hands Eve's drink to Karen. Max has wandered off. Other guests are arriving. Margo gulps her drink, hands Bill the empty glass. He puts it on a passing tray. Margo takes a fresh one at the same time.
LLOYD The general atmosphere is very Macbethish. What has or is about to happen?
(to Bill) What is he talking about?
KAREN (to Margo) We know you, we've seen you before like this. Is it over - or just beginning?
Margo surveys them all.
Fasten your seat belts.
It's going to be a bumpy night.
All About Eve
Words By Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Pictures by Milton Krasner and Joseph L. Makiewicz
All About Eve is available on DVD from Fox Home Video.
* We'll feature another one later this week...and next Sunday, one that should have been.