""Fans.... They're juvenile delinquents, mental defectives. They never see a play or a movie--they're never indoors long enough!"" exclaims Bette Davis's Margo Channing in the camp classic All About Eve. This seems especially ungrateful language given that uber-fan Staggs (MMII) has interviewed all of the surviving members of the cast and crew and compiled every possible fact, factoid and rumor about Joseph Mankiewicz's 1950s Oscar-winning tale of backstage back-stabbing in the Broadway theater. He details the evolution of the story, the filming, the stars' lives and the story's later incarnation as a Broadway musical. His book bears up under the weight of all this trivia not only because he has uncovered so much captivating material, but also because he uses it to illuminate larger themes. Staggs's comparison of similar dialogue from Eve and Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? illustrates the complexities of cultural influence, while his investigation of whether Tallulah Bankhead was the real-life model for Margo Channing becomes a meditation on the role of the bitch-goddess-diva in popular culture. Most startling of all, he has actually tracked down the young actress who was the model for the deviously ambitious Eve Harrington and tells her alarming, lamentable story. Written in a chatty style that can be laugh-out-loud-funny (actor Hugh Marlow is described as ""one of those slow-burning, carbohydrate actors who all look like versions of Gregory Peck""), Stagg's engaging study should be the last word on this enduring classic. B&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2000 Release date: 03/01/2000 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.