On The Oscar Winner, “All About Eve”

Cover of "All About Eve (Two-Disc Special...

Cover via Amazon

First it was a short story and a radio play, then it became a Hollywood classic with direction and script by Joseph Mankiewicz.  All About Eve (1950) is an appealing picture about two faulty women, especially Anne Baxter‘s Eve Harrington.

The themes are self-seeking ambition, hypocrisy (when humility is a mask for treachery), love versus cold striving, and aging.  Bette Davis is extraordinary in the film, Baxter is solid.  Marilyn Monroe has a small part but is unimpressive.

Eve is not a great explorer of character, but few movies are.  At least it’s distinctly interesting.  And, in fact, anyone enamored of the theatre ought to see it because it, too, is enamored of the theatre.

Ms. Coppola Going Places: “Somewhere”

With the 2010 Somewhere, Sofia Coppola wrote and directed a film that has more in common with the films of Olmi and Antonioni than with today’s serious pictures, which is to the good.

It has to do with a popular, recently divorced movie actor (Stephen Dorff) and his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning), the latter of whom fears she is losing her intimate connection with her mom and dad.  This rattles Dorff.  Fanning’s departure from him, and from the frivolous, vacuous film-industry world in which he lives, leaves the man sobbing over being a self-identified “nothing.”  Somewhere eventually becomes a bit dull and would probably be better as a short.  But it’s an astute film from an artist whose clear talent makes me regret that I declined to see The Bling Ring, her follow-up to Somewhere (albeit I did see, and enjoyed, Marie Antoniette).

On The 2011 Novel Of A Christian Writer: “To Die For”

Once again, in 2011, we had Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn, this time from the perspective of Anne’s close friend Meg Wyatt.  Sandra Byrd‘s novel, To Die For, is about both Anne and Meg, with the latter as narrator—and, I might add, nonsupporter of Katherine of Aragon.

Meg accepts Anne’s marriage to Henry but has vexing difficulties regarding marriage for herself.  The man she loves joins the priesthood and Meg blames God, implacably rebelling against Him.  She is also a mistreated woman, but as Anne Boleyn tells her, “You blame God for the deeds of men, I blame the men themselves.”  In the middle of the novel, Meg repents and becomes a genuine Christian.  She starts giving more attention to Anne, who needs it, and less to herself.

Now, in the 1530s, Protestantism lives, and Byrd does a good job of depicting an England where, as Byrd herself puts it, “God was now on His way to being at home in both the cathedral and the croft” (although I happen to believe it was actually that way before the Reformation).  Byrd is more of a craftsman than an artist.  Although her prose is not quite perfect, she does know how to write.  Hers is a Christian vision, and she can make both Young Adult novels and period novels engaging.  She has done so with To Die For. 


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