Saturday, March 22, 2008

19. All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

omgz i wrote something?!!

All About Eve came out in 1950, the same year as Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder’s subversive portayal of Hollywood and its actors. Mankiewicz was equally scathing in his look at the world of Broadway stage, portraying the mythical ruthlessness and petulance of stage actors. Both were big hits, and All About Eve was nominated for a record fourteen Oscars, winning six, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing.

It’s the best film about theatre that I've seen, also happening to say more about the film industry too. Sunset Boulevard might be the film about stars that dwell in the glory days of the past and live in self-delusion, but All About Eve demonstrates how they allowed their egos to get like that.

Like Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve tells its story in the form of a flashback. It all kicks off with the presentation of a prestigious stage-acting award to the eponymous Eve Harrington, accompanied by the commentary of theatre critic Addison DeWitt (George Sanders). He introduces us to the players in the world of Broadway before we go 9 months back in history before Eve was a star.

The film then charts the story Eve and how she has wormed her way into the acting clan. She does so by getting into a circle of theatre friends around an aging (and insecure about it) actress Margo Channing, whom she attempts to be a protégé of, using her a persona of friendliness and self-deprecation to mask a sinister plan of getting to the top.

All About Eve is an absolute treat in terms of acting. The role of the older actress, Margo Channing, was considered for a range of in-form actresses, from Gertrude Lawrence (wanted script changes that the director did not), Susan Hayward (too young), Claudette Colbert (pulled out back injury), Marlene Dietrich (Mankiewicz didn't love her), and Ingrid Bergman (would not leave Italy) before Bette Davis was finally chosen.

It’s the role of her lifetime, playing a character that ran only too true – a brilliant actress, but one who felt her time was running out. Bette Davis knew she was handed a dream role when she was cast as the resolute diva caught up in the throes of mid-life crisis both on- and off-stage, and she’s amazing her in performance. She’s selfish and tough yet at the same time, vulnerable and insecure.

Getting suspicious about her increasingly distrustful follower Eve, Margo lets her friends know that she doesn’t trust her, though they, taken to Eve’s put-on niceness, disagree, mistaking her fear for jealousy and harshness. Not willing to resolve the problem in a dignified way, Margo goes on a rampage and has a go at anyone who comes near her.

Bette Davis was born to play Margo Channing and, in my opinion, is even better than Swanson in Sunset Blvd. She can be a catty cow or a coy pussycat, and Davis loves every scene she gets to tear into. At the same time, however, she evokes real sympathy for Margo. The film may be titled All About Eve, but Margo is and always will be the real star of the movie.

Her supporting cast are to die for. Celeste Holm is excellent as Margo's sensible best friend, who at first is on Eve's side but eventually sees how conniving she can be and how ruthless she is in climbing to the top. When she took on the narration, I just got the feeling that things would turn out alright for Margo. She's the closest character to any of the audience throughout the movie, as, she is pretty much a spectator herself.

Gary Merrill and Hugh Marlowe are a joy in their respective roles as Margo’s boyfriend and playwright. George Sanders plays his trademark role as the cad with such cynicism and unfriendliness that it’s no wonder he bagged the Oscar. As the diabolical theatre critic, he has some of the best lines of the movie.

Thelma Ritter again proves why she is the best supporting player in the biz - as coarse but loyal Birdie Coonan, a member of Margo's "drone". Anne Baxter is pretty good as the sneaky Eve, though obviously my opinion of her performance is tainted by the fact that I despise her character (realistic as it was). There’s even space for a Marylin Monroe cameo, in which she steals the show in the ditzy-blonde trope that she would carry for the rest of her acting life.

All About Eve's screenplay is another one of its assets. Written by director Joseph L. Mankiewicz from the Mary Orr play "The Wisdom of Eve," it features strong characters and great dialogue that is witty, bitching and biting. Despite its running time, at nearly 2 and a half hours, it never drags on. Each of the characters are so perfectly drawn, you could imagine them doing things just like that in the 50s.

Femininity, aging, betrayal, manipulation and ambition are just a few of the themes touched upon in All About Eve. It's funny, but it's also a lot cleverer than it looks. It's got melodrama, yet somehow never goes over the top. All About Eve takes the age-old story of a young performer buttering up an old one, with the intention of usurping them, but makes it into something new, something utterly brilliant. Not to be missed.



Anonymous said...

I'll hang myself if they remake this.

Great review. have you seen "The Barefoot Contessa"? It's mankiewicz's film about films, but I reckon it's better as a look at sexual frustration (unintentionally funny in bits too)

Anonymous said...

LOVE this film. Bette Davis is the best

Anonymous said...

Hey Emz, is it snowing where you are?

Emma said...

@ Martin: It was about 15 minutes ago, though it's died down now. I loved it!

@ Sina: I think I have seen it, don't remember much about it though. May give it a re-watch.

@ the pair of you: bung. What day is it today?

Catherine said...

One of my top 5 of all time, definitely. I finally got to see it on the big screen, just after Christmas. There was a showing of it one night at the Irish Film Institute and my sister and I got a bus into town after school. It was a freezing cold, rainy, horrible night and the cinema was packed. It was a sold-out screening and everybody in the audience got SO into the movie; laughing at the appropriate places, hissing, quoting the lines...It was amazing.

Anonymous said...

I ADORE this film and am taken back that it actually is 2 1/2 hours... I almost don't believe it.

Incredible review, and I can only agree with you on nearly every point (I do generally prefer Sunset, even Swanson over Davis... but it's like comparing two of the best chocolates in the world. We win either way :D). The cast though is incredible, this is the only film I actually like Anne Baxter (well, I also like her in Ambersons), but her strange maneurisms only really worked here. Plus George Sanders! What a revelation he is, when he's onscreen I can't look away even when Monroe is there. He not only gets the best lines, he delivers them far better than anyone else. His performance alone raises the film that extra little notch.

RC said...

good All about Eve.

Anonymous said...

evaluate two policies wich the UK government might use to increase the competitiveness of the country's goods? (10)

b)To increase competitiveness you either have to drop prices (i.e. price-competitiveness) or improve the perceived quality of the products.

On the first one, the UK government can grant subsidies to domestic producers so that they could produce at lower cost and lower prices. However, the use of this policy is limited, especially within the European Union, because it is an example of a non-tariff barrier. Also, it promotes inefficiency because it results in misallocation of resources (high cost uncompetitive firms are allowed to produce whilst low cost efficient foreign businesses lose out on revenue and have less incentives to invest etc.)

The government could also play with the exchange rates (as in Marshall-Learner theory); depriciating exchange rate will make domestic goods more price-competitve overseas, raising the demand for them (has a good side-effect on the BofP). However, this will not result in an actual increase in competitiveness (the businesses won't be more efficient, but tthey will use favourable conditions and will be seen as more efficient). Also to the limited use which depends on the type of the exchange rate system. To influence the exchange rates the government would have to sell of some reserves of domestic currency (increasing the supply of pounds >> the S curve shifts to the right).

1)Assess the relationship between the distribution of income in a country and that country’s economic development [20 marks]

2) The path to economic development for the least developed economies is blocked by obstacles which the developed economies have not had to face or which they have already overcome
a) Explain briefly the major obstacles to economic development faced by developing countries. [10 marks]
b) With the aid of examples, discuss whether these obstacles are best overcome by free market forces or government intervention [15 marks]

1) That's what I came up with: Equal distribution of income is not only an aim but also one of the measures of economic development. The relationship works both ways: If the distribution of income improves, then other things being equal fewer people will be living in absolute poverty. However, that depends on how uneven incomes were distributed originally. Also more people would have access to education / healthcare (note that life expectancy and literacy are 2 of the measures of a country's development).
However, poor income distribution could be somewhat beneficial to the population, for example if the government / the elites take responsibility for the poor and provides education / healthcare on demand for free. This is of course a very weak argument because government of developing countries specifically is more prone to corruption (esp. by using large percentage of Aid that's coming in from other countriies for its own interests rather than to improve infrastrcuture etc).
Probably not enough for 20 marks though...

2) a)
- Lack of [capital] resources (which means they have to be purchased from elsewhere if the economy is to produce more)
- Corruption of the governmental channels
- Lack of labour, physically suitable for jobs in the economy
- Lack of incentives for MNCs to invest (low FDI - missing out on eco growth)
- Lack of effective government policies
- Strong dependency on exports of a single primary product / commodity
... I'd say pick any three which you can explain best, then you have to get 5 marks on each in part b.

b) Depending on which ones you pick!
- Sometimes it is the fault of the government itself, don't pick these ones!!!
- If it is primary product dependency - gov intervention all the way to redistribute resources by creating incentives for people to shift to secondary / turtiary sector. Secondary in particular is more difficult because it requires large flows of investment in capital, presumably from the government / MNCs. But it creates inefficiency and misallocation of resources. To what extent is it valid? Depends on what is the product, e.g. if it is coffee, prices fall in the ong run, if it's copper, prices fluctuate, which cause economy to underachieve (cobweb model). If this is left to free market forces, the most efficiently produced product will be supplied, but that causes uncertainity and fluctuations in income.

- Need of FDI - it is partly up to the government to ensure that it's policies are FDI-friendly, e.g. lower interest rates (to make it cheaper to borrow money), low taxation (buit at the expence of the natives?), availability of resources / labour. Evaluate on the importance of these factors to a decision to invest in a country.

- Unsuitable labour (sick / unskilled). Market forces normally end up making the distribution of income more uneven, with some benefitting from high profits at the expenct of the others who face discrimination and are charged high prices. So mixed economy is best, with supply of demerit and merit goods (alcohol/ tabacco and education / healthcare) being controlled by the government, but others left to free market forces because incentive of profit is the strongest driving force for an economy and eco growth.

assess the likely implications of a fall in the sterling exchange rate (12)

1st point - current account -increase in price of imported goods

2nd - decrease in foreign currency price of exports : j curve

3rd point inflation

4 - level of unemployment

5- rate of economic growth

Current account, due to a fall in the sterling exchange rate the price of imported goods would increase therefore decreasing the demand for imported goods. Uk consumers may decide to switch to domestic goods as they may be cheaper than the imports (this is due to the price of imports being more expensive)
Exports would also increase due to the price of our goods being cheaper in other countries.

I dont really understand the second point and I dont know what the J curve is, but I have heard of it.

Inflation would increase as the price of imported goods would be higher, so unless consumers switch to different imports or substitutes the inflation would increase.

Unemployment would decrease as their may be an increase in demand for domestic goods hence supply increasing (shifting to the right) causing a decrease in unemployment.

Economic growth I think would increase as the supply of domestic goods would increase.

The J curve effect (I hope this helps)

If the pound falls in value, this makes exports relatively currencies and imports relatively expensive in pounds.

In the short run the demand for imports and demand for exports are likely to be inelastic. This is because consumers and firms have already got their souces of supply and may be reluctant to change. Although the price of exports falls in terms of foreign currency, the total amount spend on them will fall because demand is inelastic. Although the price of imports has risen, the total amount spend on them will rise because demand is inelastic. The overall result is that the balance of payments deficit actually worsens in the short run.

In the long run, consumers and firms find alternative cheaper suppliers in other countries and UK buyers switch to the cheaper foreign imports, i.e. the demand for imports and export is price elastic. With the lower export prices spending on exports rises; with the higher import prices spending on imports rises and the balance of payments improve. In the very long run the balance of payments might worsen again. This is because the higher import prices can cause a cost push inflation and make UK goods and services uncompetitive abroad. Many argue therefore that a devaluation with NOT improve the balance of payments position over the very long term.

assess the likely implications of a fall in the sterling exchange rate (12)

1st point - current account -increase in price of imported goods
2nd - decrease in foreign currency price of exports : j curve

If the Sterling depreciates, then domestic firms and consumers cannot buy as many units of foreign currency per £, therefore the price of foreign imports will have risen relatively. A higher price will reduce the quantity demanded for imports, so M is likely to fall.

A fall in value in Sterling also means that foreigners can buy more £'s per unit of their currency, therefore the price of UK exports will have fallen relatively. A lower price will increase the quantity demanded for exports, so X is likely to rise.

However, the J-curve effect would suggest otherwise in the short run, during which it is arguable that demand for X and M are both inelastic, as consumers are unlikely to switch from existing suppliers of goods, i.e. there is consumer inertia. If demand for X is inelastic in the SR, a fall in price will actually result in a LOWER level of X; and if demand for M is also inelastic in the SR, a rise in price will actually result in a HIGHER level of M. This means that in the SR, a fall in the exchange rate will actually result in a fall in net exports and a worsening of the B of P Current Account position in the SR.

But, in the long run, both domestic and foreign consumers will realise and adapt to the price changes, so the quantity demanded for X will rise while that for M will fall. This means that in the LR, the depreciation will lead to a rise in net exports and a movement in the B of P CA towards a surplus position.

(Illustrate these points with a J-Curve, B of P CA on the y-axis, Time on the x-axis)

On the other hand, in the even longer run, the B of P CA may worsen again, due to the higher-priced imports causing imported inflation. Cost-push inflation will be imported if the price of imported raw materials and commodities rise (draw AS/AD to illustrate cost-push inflation, AS shifted inwards/upwards); and higher-priced imports of finished goods will contribute to overall inflation. If inflation in the UK rises relative to abroad, then the relative price of X will rise again, resulting in a fall in net exports in the long run.

The effects on X and M also depend upon the type of exchange rate system in use. If it is a free-floating ER system, then its self-adjusting nature is likely to offset the depreciation of the £. If X rises, foreigners will exchange more of their currency for more £'s in order to buy UK exports; and if M falls, UK firms and consumers will exchange less £'s for foreign currency in order to buy foreign imports. This means that the demand for £'s will shift outwards while the supply will shift inwards, resulting in an appreciation of the £ (draw D/S diagram for £'s, illustrating shifts and ER change). This self-regulating effect always tends towards the equilibrium exchange rate of the £, offsetting any changes in the rate. If it is a fixed ER system, a devaluation will be permanent, so the effects on X and M will be lasting.

3rd point inflation

4 - level of unemployment

5- rate of economic growth

can sum1 please just extend these points a lil further, and if possible evaluate the only asking for one or two sentences on each

thanks in advance!

3. If (X-M) rises, then so will AD, as net exports is a component of it. This creates inflationary pressure, and increasingly so as the economy tends towards its productive capacity, but if in a slump, there may be no such pressures, and non-inflationary recovery will occur (AS/AD diagram, showing varying inflationary pressure from depression to full employment). However, the J-curve effect suggests that this is only in the LR, and that in the SR, (X-M) falls, so this may actually lower AD and short-term inflation. Still, the even longer run may experience higher inflation yet again, due to higher-priced imports causing imported inflation and cost-push inflation.

4. If (X-M) and AD rise, then output/national income/business confidence are likely to rise, so demand for labour should rise and unemployment fall; unless the economy is at full capacity, where such an effect would be purely inflationary. Mention J-Curve contradiction as above.

5. If AD rises, business confidence is likely to rise, resulting in an outward shift in the MEC and a rise in Investment (draw diagram). The accelerator effect may magnify the increase in Investment. Higher investment leads to higher levels of physical and human capital, and better technology, resulting in higher efficiency and labour productivity in the LR, so the productive capacity of the economy will increase, shifting the LRAS/PPC outwards and leading to higher economic growth (AS/AD + PPF (i.e. PPC) diagram

National minimum wage is on the increase. From October 1st, the National Minimum wage went up to £4.20 and hour for workers aged 22 or over. The rate for workers aged 18 to 21 increase to £3.60 an hour.

1. Assess the view that the national minimum wage for 18-21 year olds should be raised to the same level as that of workers aged 22 and over. (6 marks)

The Government has asked for the views of the public on the proposals to reduce traffic congestion between the towns of Shrewsbury and Chester. The scheme involves building a dual carriage way through an agriculture area.

2. Discuss the likely economic costs and benefits of building the dual carriage way. (6 marks)

NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE OF £5 WOULD THREATEN JOBS. Labour to fight election on promise of £5 an hour.


3.Discuss, with the aid of the data above, whether a £5 national minimum wage in 2005 would "threaten jobs" (6 marks)

1) Think about how this will affect young people's decision to enter higher education: there is more incentive to work. How will that affect labour market? In the Short Run, an increase in demand for jobs (represented by the increase in supply of workers on the diagram). That would make natural equillibrium even lower than before, and obviously lower than the minimum wage set (the "floor" wage), creating excess supply. Secondly, a decrease in demand for workers as it is more expensive to hire them. Equillibrium drops lower, again. Good for people in work but what about those out of the jobs? In the long Run, all those people who droped out of education at 18 and didn't utilise their full potential contribute to the economy less than they would have done, had they received higher education. Theoretically, a larger tax revenue for the government as more people are in work. Of course in practice more people seek work but fewer people are employed, so tax revenue is the same/lower. Also, the 18-21 who aren't in full time education can claim unemployment-related benefits (as far as I know) dipping into government's funds.

Ultimately, there are benefits to setting 18-21 minimum wage at 4.20 - young people who have to support their parents and siblings, or who perhaps start their own families will benefit from such legislation. It will stop employees from exploiting young people who do start working, because the skills of a 21 year old are pretty much the same as those of a 22 year old (uless he/she received Higher Education, but then he/she wouldn't be after a minimum wage job anyway). Those who do start work earlier than they would have normally done will bring in tax revenue and will not get into debts before they are even starting to work, thus contributing to the economy and even contributing to the economic growth indirectly.

Discuss 4 factors apart from national minimum wage which might explain wage differentials in the UK (20 marks)
you've probably done it by now but:
efficiency wages
differences in productivity/skills
discrimination (various - age/race/gender)
trade union protection
regional variation in unemployment (compare north/south UK)
compensating differential (e.g. London wages higher due to higher cost of living) - also risk differential for different jobs

define game theory.
(Study of) the strategic interaction of economic agents seeking to maximise their utility

1.Discuss whether it is impossible to measure economic growth?
2. What is the most effective way of increasing productivity?

Hard to define economic growth, and is it really some quntitative rather than qualitative? Should we use GDP, SoL, HDI... or isn't really economics growth a proxy for happiness, and how the heck do you measure that! While many theories argues that increase in FoPs (land, labour and capital) is normaly considered growth (shifts PPF outwards), what if income and living standards decreases? Have growth been acheived?

Also, even if we decided that for example SoL was the standard measure, we are faced with the classical data gathering issues such as non-stochiastic samples or just pure admin issues. There might be incentives to make growth look higher than it really is.

However, while we I would argue that we cannot exactly pinpoint economic growht, all the important factors such as GDP, litteracy and high purchasing power all indicate economic growth. You could say they are correlated, but not causative (if that word exists )

Then you can discuss loads of advanced models, if you feel like going beyond the call of duty, and extend simple IS/LM and AD/AS models to theories such as the AK model (Krugman, I think), the Lewis model of growth, or even discuss Kondratief waves (if you are feeling controverisal!).

On your second question, think about what affects productivity. Key words here are technology, FoPs, cost of capital and uhm... more technology!

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Unknown said...

The classical movie "All About Eve" is a heart throbe movie, very nicely performance, thanks for the review.......


Tony said...

Great review, thanks - haven't seen it but will put on my wish list as I'm a Bette Davies fan.

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Juliette said...

Great movie review - I'm a big fan of Bette, so thanks.

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Thanks for review - I have this movie recorded but never watched - will now, as sounds interesting.

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Walkydog said...

Nice review - Margo sounds a character that Bette was well matched for - will watch. Nice to see someone quite young reviewing movies of this era, as they shouldn't be forgotten.

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