December 22, 2008
138 Minutes — October 13, 1950
Joseph L. Mankiewicz [The Philadelphia Story; The Barefoot Contessa; Guys And Dolls]
#72 They Shoot Pictures Don’t They Top 1000 Films Of All Time
“Solo Filmschool” movies are those on the big list of the 1000 best films of all time, which the crew over at TSPDT keeps track of and updates from time to time. The version of the list I used is from January 2010. My plan is to work my way down the list, watching all of them on DVD (if available), regardless of how slow-moving, or out of date they might appear at first. If a highly-regarded and serious film class is not available where you live, you could do a lot worse than using this list as a jumping off point.
It’s all about women — and their men!
An aging Broadway star suffers from the hidden menace of a self-effacing but secretly ruthless and ambitious young actress.
Sure, it’s dated and melodramatic. But Davis is so great as a woman who has passed the unheard of milestone of being 40 years old and still trying to get the juicy parts on Broadway. Baxter is a star-struck fan when we meet her. But is she too good to be true? All the characters speak to each other in that “theater is the only true art form” way. There are awards and fur coats and drinks at fancy Manhattan clubs.
It’s a bit long and has several too many voiceovers from several too many characters. But I wasn’t bored. And Davis is so angry and so lacking in social skills when off stage that you really can’t look away. This film has the “fasten your seatbelts…” line. It also has a ditzy Marilyn Monroe in a small part as a new girl in town who takes any opportunity she can for her break. A slimy columnist points her in the right direction, towards the hot producer in town. Watch Monroe’s face light up as she switches into flirt mode. It is a sight to see.
OW: Picture, Director Mankiewicz, Screenplay Mankiewicz, Supporting Actor George Sanders
ON: Actress Baxter, Actress Davis, Supporting Actress Celeste Holm, Supporting Actress Thelma Ritter, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction
“A basically unconvincing story with thin characters is transformed by a screenplay scintillating with savage wit and a couple of waspish performances into a movie experience to treasure.” — Halliwell’s Film Guide 2008
“The dialogue and atmosphere are so peculiarly remote from life that they have sometimes been mistaken for art.” — Pauline Kael
“Brilliantly sophisticated (and cynical) look at life in and around the theater, with a heaven-sent script by director Mankiewicz. Davis is absolutely perfect as an aging star who takes in an adoring fan and soon discovers that the young woman is taking over her life.” — Leonard Maltin’s 2007 Movie Guide
8.4 IMDB All Time #75
ALL ABOUT EVETags: 8.4, Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, Drama, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Oscars, Top 1000