In 1950, Margo Channing was constantly criticized in the press for being too old for the roles she played. In 2015, 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal was deemed "too old" to play love interest to a 55-year-old man (source). My, how far we haven't come since 1950. One reason All About Eve still resonates today is its sharp commentary on age, especially in showbiz, where a 37-year-old woman is about 77 in Hollywood years. If our culture in general is youth-obsessed, then we demand eternal youth from our idols, particular the female variety. Of course there are exceptions like Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, but they're the…exceptions.
Questions About Youth
Is Margo "too old" to play the roles Lloyd writes for her? What's the solution? Should they find a younger actress or should Lloyd write roles for older actors?
Why is Margo insecure about the eight-year age difference between herself and Bill? What if the ages were reversed? How would their relationship differ?
How has age discrimination in the entertainment business changed in the years since All About Eve premiered? Has it changed at all?
Chew on This
All About Eve is a paradox. It's a film about how there are no roles for aging actresses, yet it stars an older actress in one of her most iconic roles. Art imitated life for Bette Davis.
The older men in the movie—Max Fabian, Addison— have success and clout and are hardly concerned about their ages. It's the women who have the cause to worry. Bill never worries about being taken seriously in the biz just because he's only 32.