Study Guide

All About Eve Production Studio

Production Studio

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When you think of 20th Century Fox today, you might think of other aspects of the now 21st Century Fox corporation, like The Simpsons, the X-Files, and a certain polarizing news channel.

However, in the 1950s, Fox hadn't yet stooped to the cesspool of television. (At least that's how Addison DeWitt, theater-snob extraordinaire, would describe TV.) It produced serious grownup movies and contracted with megawatt stars like Betty Grable, Jayne Mansfield, Henry Fonda, and a screen legend whose tenth movie was All About Eve: Marilyn Monroe. Heard of her? In the 1950s, the studio made a bundle producing films of hit Broadway musicals like Carousel and The King and I.

Under studio head Darryl F. Zanuck (yep, the same one mentioned in All About Eve), Fox introduced the first widely used widescreen format, CinemaScope. It revolutionized movie production and boosted a movie audience that had begun to dwindle in the 50s as people started turning to television for entertainment.

Shot in black and white, All About Eve was one of the studio's hugest successes. The same year, Fox also released the original version of Cheaper by the Dozen, and the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie starring Kirk Douglas, but it was Eve that racked up a record-setting fourteen Oscar nominations (a feat not matched until Titanic in 1997) and brought the studio its first Academy Award win for Best Picture.

Studio executive and legendary producer Darryl F. Zanuck trimmed Mankiewicz's script from three hours to approximately two, and eliminated many flashbacks, some of which portrayed the same scene from different points of view. We think this might be one of the few cases when producers' meddling made a stronger film (source).

When Zanuck decided to cast Bette Davis in the film after Claudette Colbert (his first choice) injured her back, the two hadn't spoken in nine years. The last words he spoke to her were that she'd never work in Hollywood again. When he phoned her, she was convinced it was a prank call and vamped it up in true Bette Davis style. He couldn't convince her it was really him until he mentioned that Mankiewicz wrote the script. That got her attention. Zanuck was totally committed to the script and took on the film as one of his personal projects (source).

The rest, as they say, is cinematic history.