[Quick Summary: Eve, an ambitious young actress, insinuates herself into an older stage actress' (Margo's) circle in order to become a star.]
This script was nominated for 14 Oscars, the most ever (until "Titanic" tied it in 1997). It held the record for 47 YEARS!
It was also nominated against "Sunset Boulevard", which also was about an aging actress.
Do I agree that the writing in "All About Eve" should've edged out "Sunset Boulevard"?
Yes, but only by millimeters.
Why? I think it's because Eve's "selfless, good intentioned" actions are actually self-serving.
Eve's actions are beyond reproach...but her motives are cloaked. This results in great subtext as Margo comes to realize Eve's true motives.
ex. Around p. 37, Margo gets an unexpected phone call from the operator. Eve had pre-arranged with the operator that Margo should call Bill to wish him a happy birthday.
Margo feels terribly guilty because she forgot Bill's birthday completely, & that Eve has been planning a 'surprise' party with Bill, unbeknownst to Margo.
On the surface, Eve seems like such a thoughtful person. But her actions cause Margo's female intuition to ring off the hook.
On the surface, everyone marvels at efficient, kind Eve. But Margo knows at some level that Eve covets Bill.
Eve is so good at looking innocent that people jump to her defense. This causes Margo to doubt herself because Eve seems to want nothing but Margo's happiness.
But that's the genius of Eve. She is a well thought out character who persuades others to champion her cause...all the while, Eve is undermining Margo.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I'm getting into rarified air with the top 5 scripts.
Margo & Eve are three dimensional characters & this script is a slice of their lives. The plot falls naturally from the character & her flaws, i.e., they are not constructed just for this plot.
[I believe this is what Tom Hooper (see previous post) means when he says characters should not be a function of plot.]
All About Eve (1950)
by Joseph Mankiewicz