I wish I could recommend this Criterion Collection release of All About Eve but even though the video and audio transfers and features were great, the cheap packaging and shoddy work holding discs using rubber hubs makes this a no-go in my book.
All About Eve
Criterion Collection | NR – 138 min. – $39.95 | November 26, 2019
Date Published: 11/20/2019 | Author: The Movieman
The Criterion Collection provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE — 4.0/5
Plot Synopsis: One night, Margo Channing (BETTE DAVIS) entertains a surprise dressing-room visitor: her most adoring fan, the shy, wide-eyed Eve Harrington (ANNE BAXTER). But as Eve becomes a fixture in Margo’s life, the Broadway legend soon realizes that her supposed admirer intends to use her and everyone in her circle, including stage director — and Margo’s long-time boyfriend — Bill Simpson (GARY MERRILL) and playwright Lloyd Richards (HUGH MARLOWE) and his wife, Karen (CELESTE HOLM), as stepping stones to stardom.
Quick Hit Review: All About Eve is a movie I knew of but never got around to watching for one reason or another. So with a new Blu-ray release, took the opportunity to check out this widely considered classic a shot. My initial thoughts were it was a masterpiece in both acting, led way by the wonderful Bette Davis, and writing by Joseph L. Mankiewicz from a story entitled “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr. The dialogue is sensational and combined with not only with Bette Davis’ scene-stealing moments, makes for an entertaining little tale. But that’s really the extent, I was entertained but never really fixated.
Along with Bette Davis, who did receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, the film also features a few great performances. Gary Merrill performed fantastically alongside Davis, to the point th two apparently fell in love and married (only to divorce 10 years later); Hugh Marlowe as the playwright and Celeste Holm as his wife (and Margo’s best friend) had their share of good scenes.
And this isn’t to forget Anne Baxter as the titular Eve, while I don’t think she quite held her own opposite Davis, she did a fine job changing from the innocent fangirl to full-fledged, backstabbing you-know-what by film’s end. Ironically, from what I read, she lobbied the studio to get an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress category instead of Supporting Actress, and doing so, when she did the nod, likely cost Davis the award…
Directed by the prolific Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve has some amazing pieces of dialogue along with some incredible performances from Bette Davis, who should have taken home the Academy Award, if not for co-star Anne Baxter’s campaigning to be nominated in the same category. In any case, while I wasn’t fully enamored, it is easy to see why this is placed on many people’s top films list.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
|It’s confounding that this two-disc release is housed in a cardboard foldout (digipak), held in with sticky rubber hubs and there is a 44-page booklet. I have no idea why a company as reputable as Criterion would go this cheap route. To boot, because the inside foldout is flimsy, and even though the slip cover isn’t too bad of quality, it’s still easy to squeeze too hard, and my new copy already has pretty good indentations (not to mention the top of the case has a crease.
I normally don’t go this much into a case, but it’s a good reason why I will not recommend picking this up until Criterion re-releases with their normal clear case. Really a shame.
All About Mankiewicz (1:46:45) — This is a feature-length documentary from 1983 with film scholar Michel Ciment interviews Joseph L. Mankiewicz about his career.
The Secret of Sarah Siddons (7:02) — This 2008 documentary chronicles the formation, after the film’s release, of an actual Sarah Siddons Society (previously made up by Mankiewicz) in Chicago.
Radio Adaptation (59:55) — This is the “Lux Radio Theatre” adaptation of All About Eve from 1951 featuring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, and Gary Merrill in their original roles, with Reginald Gardiner playing Addison DeWitt.
Bette Davis Promotion (1:16) is a short promotional film featuring Davis on the set.
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (26:02) — 2010 documentary with Mankiewicz’s sons and biographer, and others, discussing the director’s career.
The Dick Cavett Show feature one full episode (28:42) from 1980 with Gary Merrill and an excerpt (19:56) of another with Bette Davis from 1969.
Hollywood Backstories: All About Eve (24:21) — This documentary is from 2001 about the making of the film and features interviews with Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, and Celeste Holm, as well as Joseph L. Mankiewicz, his son Thomas Mankiewicz, film historian Rudy Behlmer, and Bette Davis biographer Roy Moseley.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz: A Personal Journey (25:59) — From 2010, director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sons Christopher Mankiewicz and Thomas Mankiewicz, as well as Joseph’s biographer Kenneth L. Geist, discuss the director’s life.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
|Criterion releases All About Eve onto Blu-ray with a restoration, undertaken by Twentieth Century Fox, from the original 35mm non composite fine-grain and was scanned in 4K resolution and restored. I don’t know if this is a new transfer, however and I’m wondering if it’s the old one as it doesn’t say a 2019 transfer. Whatever the case, however, this does look great. The black and white picture appears pristine with neither appearing crushed or blown out, and detail was sharp and the original film grain seems to have been retained.|
AUDIO – 4.5/5
|The disc comes with an uncompressed monaural track which does produce clear dialogue with some fine balance with the music and ambient noises. I did detect some minor hissing in some spots, but overwhelmingly some of the other quiet scenes were clean. As noted in the booklet, this was restored from the same 35mm non composite fine-grain with the main and end title sequences utilizing a quarter-inch magnetic recording while the rest was restored in Burbank.|
OVERALL – 2.5/5 (w/ packaging), 4.5/5 (disc itself)
I wish I could recommend this Criterion Collection release of All About Eve but even though the video and audio transfers were great and it does have a good selection of bonus features, the cheap packaging and shoddy work holding discs using rubber hubs makes this a no-go in my book to the point I’d rather just watch this film again with the original Fox release. I don’t know what the Criterion Collection was thinking but I can only hope they either offer a replacement option to future pressings will be made with some actual quality and care. Skip. This. Release.
Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.