Fasten Your Seatbelts

–“All About Eve” is all about excellence.

There are works of art that make an indelible impression. No matter how many times you view them, they never get old, or tired. Instead, they demand your return, a fresh eye — and that returning never disappoints.

The 1950 black and white film, “All About Eve,” is just such a work. A cinematic masterpiece that is, in this viewer’s opinion, as fresh and relevant today, as it was when it first hit the theaters.

It is one of my favorite flicks of all time and I feel obligated to share it with my fellow writers.

Starring the incomparable Bette Davis, the equally excellent Anne Baxter, and a stunning supporting cast, including the great British actor, George Sanders, Gary Merrill, Celeste Holm, and Hugh Marlow, this is a film that demands multiple viewings. See it once, and you’ll understand why. The luminous Marilyn Monroe makes an appearance, as well, in what I believe was her first screen role. It’s a cameo, and she’s hilarious. To watch her here is to understand how her career took off like a comet. She truly was, as Elton John wrote, a “candle in the wind.”

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Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, George Sanders/Flickr.Com

As DeWitt, Sanders’ mastery of a cigarette holder is something to behold. And his crisp enunciation of every line, even the simple, “I am Addison Dewitt,” thrills me. Every single time. Unfortunately, although he seemed to be a man who “had everything,” Sanders came to an untimely end, by his own hand. In his suicide note, Sanders, wrote, in part, ”Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored.”

To me, “All About Eve” is the benchmark for writing excellence, no matter if you’re a screenwriter or a novelist. Not one line…or word, is wasted. Talk about economy of language!

Most people who have a passing knowledge of the film know it for the iconic line, literally growled by Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”From Script To Screen, here is that unforgettable scene:
A scene from the 1950 movie All About Eve, written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and featuring one of the most famous lines…
That said, there are so many more sharp pieces of dialogue that delight and inspire.

Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, at the end of the day, “All About Eve” is about celebrity, and its lure, especially when applause and fandom is mistaken for love.When Margo hosts a birthday party for the director, Bill Sampson, (Merrill), he scoffs at the notion that the stage is mightier than the big screen. This leaves the starry-eyed Harrington to reply:

She fairly breathes this line, both rapt and wrapped up in the moment. And, her audience is suitably entranced.Baxter plays the part of a fanatical fan with an agenda, to perfection. Her character’s arc is amazing to behold as she methodically turns friend against friend…lover against lover.As I write these words, I am eager to see “All About Eve,” yet again, as it both soothes and inspires me.When I started on my screenwriting journey, I read the script, several times. Each time, I learned something new, which is why I’m so happy to be able to share this immaculate piece of movie-making with you.

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Poster: “All About Eve”/Flickr.Com

At the 1951 Academy Awards, “All About Eve” garnered 18 nominations and 23 wins, including the following:

If you haven’t yet seen “All About Eve,” I urge you to beg, borrow, or steal a copy of the DVD. Better yet, purchase it so you can watch and rewatch it, as I have. I promise: You won’t just be entertained, you’ll be enriched.

And, if you’re interested in reading the script, here it is:

All About Eve script by Joseph Mankiewicz

Enjoy. And, thanks for reading.


Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinn is a long-time, Chicago area, advertising/marketing writer, blogger and, for the last fifteen years, screenwriter. A big-time dreamer and proud of it, Sherry has had two short films produced, one in L.A., the other in New York. Both won several awards and screened at festivals but she is still "fighting the good fight," in order to become a full-time, working screenwriter. A passionate straight-shooter who never rests on her laurels, Sherry writes about damn near everything because how do you encapsulate…life? Unflinching in her determination to “just tell the truth,” Sherry strives to educate, engage and inspire others to follow their dreams. A lifelong animal lover and advocate, Sherry resides in a Chicago suburb with her husband and their three fabulous felines.

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