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All About All About Eve: The Complete Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Bitchiest Film Ever Made! Hardcover – March 18, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0312252687 ISBN-10: 0312252684 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (March 18, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312252684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312252687
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,349,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Like the movie it celebrates, Sam Staggs's All About All About Eve is good, gossipy fun. The book is exhaustively researched, from behind-the-scenes anecdotes to a talk with the original, mysterious "Eve" who sparked the dinner party conversation that inspired the magazine story that eventually became one of the best movies ever made. The book spirals outward from the movie as well, chronicling the subsequent careers of the principals (and an ingenue newcomer named Marilyn Monroe), the life of writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and even the ill-fated romance of stars Bette Davis and Gary Merrill. It is, of course, the legendary on-set cattiness that is the focus of the book's first half (Celeste Holm claims that Bette Davis responded to her initial "Good morning" with a tart "Oh shit, good manners," and the two never spoke again; cast members dish about George Sanders's then-wife Zsa Zsa Gabor), but the overall tone of the book is one of affection and a deep fascination for even the smallest aspects of the film. A true fan, Staggs analyzes the position of All About Eve in its own time and in the camp culture of today, notes its influence on innumerable subsequent films, and even chronicles the somewhat manufactured "feud" between Bette Davis and Tallulah Bankhead that developed over Davis's characterization of Margo Channing. To keep it from getting too weighty, Staggs punctuates the book with sidebars, paying tribute to the career of Walter Hampden, the elderly actor who presents the Sarah Siddons award, and even working in a match-the-famous-quote-to-the-French-subtitle quiz. All About All About Eve succeeds best in its main purpose--making you want to watch the movie one more time. --Ali Davis

From Publishers Weekly

"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.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

It is fun to read and although I wanted to put it down, I found I couldn't.
Charles Slovenski
In this kind of book, it seems to me, facts--the author's documented research-- are what are important, not his own opinions.
This is a must read for all fans of the movie and anyone who's interested in classic Hollywood at all.
Wayne M. Malin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Gravener on March 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
ALL ABOUT EVE is one of my most favorite films ever, and when I saw this book on the shelf at work (I won't mention which bookstore I work for), I had to get it! That was 2 days ago, and I have not been able to put the book down! All of the behind the scenes scoops and sidebars of background and tangent items makes this book a must have for not only fans of the film, but of fans of film-making. This not a book of just bitchy quips and over-adoration on the part of the author. Rather, Mr. Staggs presents a book about a film that was about the theater (or Hollywood). I cannot gush about this book enough. Please read it (I am not getting paid to say that).
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Juicy, irresistible reading. A great story about one of the great movies that's also the story of Hollywood in microcosm. It's packed with larger-than-life characters like Bette Davis, George Sanders, Darryl Zanuck, and of course Marilyn Monroe, and plenty of lesser-known but no less fascinating figures, like Elizabeth Bergner, the real-life Margo Channing upon whom the original story was based. It's also an intriguing mystery (was there a real Eve and who was she?)with an intriguing, satisfying wrapup--and with an ironic twist at the end. And the author tells his story in a unique, dramatic way, in the form of a novel, and weaves actual quotes in a way that you'll find hard to believe--but they're all documented. Amazing. All in all, one of the best and most enjoyable Hollywood books I've ever read. It would make a great movie.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
All About Eve is a cult film, a camp classic and an all-around tremendous movie that won six Oscars in 1950. It influenced the making of motion pictures to come and was the inspiration of the play "Applause." Somehow nobody wrote THE book on "All About Eve," its inspiration, its making, its reception and following, and how it lives on today--not until now. Now we have All About "All About Eve" and it's everything a fan could want.
Author Sam Staggs did a huge amount of painstaking research for this book, especially noteworthy because all of this fifty-year-old movie's principal players are dead (with one notable exception: Celeste Holm, who would not grant him an interview). Staggs locates the kernel of the movie in a magazine story, "The Wisdom of Eve," about a conniving young woman who befriends and then betrays an insecure older actress, "Margola Cranston." He goes beyond the magazine story to find the actual, real-life "Eve" figure and interviews her, finding that life and art are not necessarily the same.
All About "All About Eve"'s book jacket calls the film "the bitchiest film ever made." (There is room for disagreement--what about "Stage Door"? "The Women?" "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"?)
But the movie was a solid career-starter for Marilyn Monroe as Miss Caswell, "a graduate of the Copacabana School of Dramatic Arts." Otherwise, Staggs' thesis is controversial, and probably makes Celeste Holm furious: "For others in the cast--Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Gary Merrill, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Thelma Ritter, and for [writer/director Joseph] Mankiewicz himself--All About Eve was the climax. . . .
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Reginald on January 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
One of the most talked about movies from the 1950s, the plot and dialogue from All About Eve is part of American pop culture. Sam Staggs has written an exhaustive account of the making of the movie, from the projects conception to its completion, and beyond. The beyond part is more than one needs to know and it detracts from the overall work. If Staggs had ended the book at the 1950 Academy Awards, I would have found this book to be a more enjoyable read. However, the digression into the making of Applause (a musical based on Eve) seems way out of place and who really cares. Applause, unlike Eve, just doesn't have much relevance today. Staggs writes enthusiastically about the subject, but at some points it's almost scary, like some wacky Star Trek fan. I like the movie and understand it's impact, but it's not as important or relevant to most people on the planet as it is to Mr. Staggs and his friends. Having said all that, there is a lot to enjoy in this book, and for the most part, Staggs is a good story teller. If I were the editor, I would have kept to the facts and dumped the other stuff in the trash, or saved it for another book, which would have been more appropriate. If you're a film buff, there is plenty to like about All About All About Eve in spite of itself.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an almost encyclopedic description of the greatest "backstage" movie ever made (along with "Stage Door"), 1950's Oscar-winner "All About Eve." Believe the title: This is all about the movie, and people who haven't seen the movie or who don't like it will indeed find this stuffed with too much information.
That caveat aside, this is a superb book, taking both a lowbrow and highbrow analysis of the Joseph L. Mankiewicz scripted and directed film starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Gary Merrill, Thelma Ritter, Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Ratoff, and Hugh Marlowe. Author Sam Staggs takes us behind the on- and off-stage scenes, to deliver the subtext of the movie: The various meanings transacted among the text--the film itself--and its audience (including those who made the film). There are brawls, feuds, insults, lawsuits, legal challenges, large egos, and a Rashomon-like recollection of who said what to whom more than 50 years ago.
Staggs tells the real event on which "Eve" is based, and then traces its evolution from short story to film. (We later meet the "real" Eve Harrington, as Staggs turns sleuth). The book is juicy, but the prose is occasionally overripe: Drawing a flimsy parallel between the fire in his brother's film Citizen Kane, and the real fire that (much later) consumed a van filled with many of Joe Mankiewicz's belongings, Staggs writes: That final fire at Xanadu, and the later one that consumed the Mankiewicz moving fan, rhyme like a combustible couplet." Really now! Fortunately, such purple prose is rare.
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