Cover image for All about "All about Eve" : the complete behind-the-scenes story of the bitchiest film ever made
All about "All about Eve" : the complete behind-the-scenes story of the bitchiest film ever made
Staggs, Sam.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
x, 388 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1997.A323 S73 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
PN1997.A323 S73 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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To millions of fans, All About Eve represents all that's witty and wonderful in classic Hollywood movies.Its old-fashioned, larger-than-life stars--including Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, and Celeste Holm--foudn their best roles in Eve and its sophisticated dialogue has entered the lexicon.But there's much more to know about All About Eve.Sam Staggs has written the definitive account of the making of this fascinating movie and its enormous incluence on both film and popular culture.Staggs reveals everything about the movie--from the famous European actress Margo Channing was based on to the hot-blooded romance on-set between Bette Davis and costar Gary Merrill, from the jump-start the movie gave Marilyn Monroe's career to the capstone it put on director Joseph L. Mankeiwicz's.All About "All About Eve" is not only full of rich detail about the movie, the director, and the stars, but also about the audience who loved it when it came out and adore it to this day.

Author Notes

Sam Staggs of has written for a number of magazines, including Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, and Art News

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Staggs leaves no nugget of trivia unmined in his examination of the 1950 movie starring Bette Davis as an aging Broadway star threatened professionally and romantically by a young rival. The film won six Oscars and became a classic, thanks to witty dialogue and nimble, knowing performances. Staggs traces the movie's development from the short story that inspired it through a virtual production diary that he fleshes out with interviews of many surviving contributors to the film. His approach strives to balance the scholarly and the fannish but eventually tips toward the latter, bogging down in tedious examinations of the film's cultural influence and homosexual subtexts and in a lengthy account of the story's Broadway musical adaptation, Applause. Many will want to read the book for the dish and won't be disappointed by its bitchy backstage stories, mostly about the torrid on-set romance between Davis and costar Gary Merrill. Probably this is more than all but the most ardent Eve cultist will consume, but the book's ambition, like the character Eve's, elicits reluctant admiration. --Gordon Flagg

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Fans.... They're juvenile delinquents, mental defectives. They never see a play or a movie--they're never indoors long enough!" exclaims Bette Davis's Margo Channing in the camp classic All About Eve. This seems especially ungrateful language given that uber-fan Staggs (MMII) has interviewed all of the surviving members of the cast and crew and compiled every possible fact, factoid and rumor about Joseph Mankiewicz's 1950s Oscar-winning tale of backstage back-stabbing in the Broadway theater. He details the evolution of the story, the filming, the stars' lives and the story's later incarnation as a Broadway musical. His book bears up under the weight of all this trivia not only because he has uncovered so much captivating material, but also because he uses it to illuminate larger themes. Staggs's comparison of similar dialogue from Eve and Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? illustrates the complexities of cultural influence, while his investigation of whether Tallulah Bankhead was the real-life model for Margo Channing becomes a meditation on the role of the bitch-goddess-diva in popular culture. Most startling of all, he has actually tracked down the young actress who was the model for the deviously ambitious Eve Harrington and tells her alarming, lamentable story. Written in a chatty style that can be laugh-out-loud-funny (actor Hugh Marlow is described as "one of those slow-burning, carbohydrate actors who all look like versions of Gregory Peck"), Stagg's engaging study should be the last word on this enduring classic. B&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The 1950 Oscar-winning film All About Eve, a movie about ambition and backbiting in the theater world, has become a critical and a cult classic. In this account of the movie, journalist and "filmlorist" Staggs (MM II) colors his treatment of the origins, influences, and spin-offs of the Bette Davis vehicle with fact, rumor, and all shades in between. The result is a truly comprehensive filmography (as in "biography")--with limited readership appeal. Most readers will lap up the off-screen anecdotes about the movie's stars and makers, but only diehard fans will appreciate Staggs's analysis of the film's homoerotic overtones, his itemization of production-related expenses, and his unconvincing comparisons to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Most compelling is Staggs's quest to track down the "real" Eve, the scheming ingenue who flatters, ingratiates, and eventually connives her way to the top. Superbly referenced, this is recommended for collections that emphasize popular culture.--Jayne Plymale, Aiken, SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Author's Notep. ix
1. Fire and Musicp. 1
2. When Was It? How Long?p. 15
3. Minor Awards Are for Such as the Writerp. 29
4. Zanuck, Zanuck, Zanuckp. 43
5. Miss Channing Is Agelessp. 58
6. The End of an Old Road, the Beginning of a New Onep. 65
7. San Francisco, An Oasis of Civilization in the California Desertp. 73
8. How Could I Miss Her? Every Night, Every Matineep. 82
9. To Margo. To My Bride-to-Bep. 88
10. A Graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Artp. 91
11. Killer to Killerp. 101
12. A New Word for Happinessp. 110
13. A Little Taking In Here and Letting Out Therep. 116
14. A Career All Females Have in Commonp. 121
15. The General Atmosphere Is Very Macbethishp. 136
16. I Call Myself Phoebep. 142
17. The Time I Looked Through the Wrong End of the Camera Finderp. 154
18. And You, I Take It, Are the Paderewski Who Plays His Concerto on Me, the Piano?p. 174
19. Wherever There's Magic and Make-Believe and an Audience, There's Theatrep. 181
20. I'll Marry You If It Turns Out You Have No Blood At Allp. 191
21. You'll Give the Performance of Your Lifep. 197
22. Those Awards Presented Annually by That Film Societyp. 206
23. Waiting for Me to Crack That Little Gnome on the Noggin With a Bottlep. 217
24. I Could Watch You Play That Scene a Thousand Timesp. 232
25. Tell That to Dr. Freud Along With the Rest of Itp. 247
26. Real Diamonds in a Wigp. 257
27. Why, If There's Nothing Else, There's Applausep. 282
Postscript: Tell Us About It, Evep. 319
Brief Lives, Etc.p. 336
Acknowledgmentsp. 344
Selected Bibliographyp. 348
Notesp. 354
Indexp. 371