(1950)5Rebecca Flint MarxA skewering satire of the theatre world, All About Eve entertains while it eviscerates. This is a film that really does have it all: Joseph L. Mankiewicz's sure-handed direction and gloriously poisonous screenplay, celluloid diva Bette Davis at her disdainful best, uniformly excellent performances from the supporting cast, and costumes that further demonstrate that designer Edith Head did indeed give good wardrobe. The fact that All About Eve swept the 1950 Academy Awards speaks to all of these qualities, but a great deal of the film's historical and cinematic importance lies in its content. For years, Broadway had taken aim at Hollywood, and now the tables were turned with considerable venom. Mankiewicz's script summoned into existence a whole array of painfully recognizable theatre types, from the aging, egomaniacal grand dame to the outwardly docile, inwardly scheming ingenue to the powerful critic who reeks of malignant charm. The fact that the film succeeds in delivering such a wallop without descending into bitchy tirade makes it an enduring testament to the powers of elegant satire, further proof that there is no more dangerous combination than wit and a typewriter.