Happy Gay Pride Week Everyone!
The best screenplay I’ve ever come across is from Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (1950). It tells a deceptively simple story in a straightforward manner, but does it in such a gloriously telling, bitchy manner that it remains to this day, one of the only ﬁlms I can’t stop watching once it’s started.
Its most iconic moment is when its leading lady, Margo Channing (played by ours, Bette Davis) literally ascends the stairs in her New York apartment. A party is about to take place that changes the direction of the narrative and the relationships between its characters; a climax that comes only halfway through the picture, which manages to sustain its level of suspense and biting humor thereafter.
Margo, putting on the facade of genteel, warm host is instead preparing her plan for the evening; to oust the titular Eve Harrington (a wonderful turn from Anne Baxter), and reveal her deceptions to their friends. This is, of course, a plan that goes awry once Davis becomes intoxicated and spends the rest of the party moping about, making her pianist play Liebestraume by Franz Litze and eﬀectively dampening the mood of the entire occasion. But for one brief moment, as her partner and closest friends inquire whether or not the storm has passed or if it’s just about to begin, she gives a beautiful telling look, sashays over to the steps in a way that would make Tyra Banks weep with envy, and like a betrayed Cassandra, intones that classic line:
Fasten your seatbelts.
It's going to be a bumpy night.
Her prediction holds true.
All About Eve is a hallmark in gay cinema, not just because of the sexual ambiguities of Eve Harrington or the eﬀervescent, snakelike charm of Addison DeWitt, but because of its diva, Margo Channing. A light that shines from a tower Joe Mankiewicz built that, like any great architect of the cinema, is at once inimitable and forever desired.
We all want that entrance, and we all want such an exit.