The Three Faces of Eve (1957)


*. This was one of my father’s favourite movies. I think he might have had a secret crush on Joanne Woodward. Anyway, I feel like I grew up watching it every time it came on TV.
*. It’s often mentioned as trivia that this was the first film to win the Best Actress Academy Award without being nominated in any other category until Jodie Foster won for The Accused (1988). Which isn’t surprising, because aside from Woodward’s performance this movie has nothing much going for it. I mean, Cortez was a great cinematographer, but he hasn’t much to do here and working in CinemaScope doesn’t suit the material very well. And aside from that . . .
*. Interesting that so many big names turned the part of Eve down, as you would have thought this was a prime star vehicle. Orson Welles, who was approached to play Dr. Luther, said that whoever played Eve would surely win an Oscar.
*. Some of the candidates might have produced bizarre results, however. Marilyn Monroe? Judy Garland (who thought from the script that the film was a domestic comedy)? The mind boggles.
*. Garland’s response strikes me as odd, but even contemporary reviewers were upset at the comic elements. Personally, I have a hard time seeing anything particularly funny aside from the odd scene with Eve’s dopey husband.


*. Watching it, it’s hard not to get the feeling that it must be based on a play. But apparently not. The book was optioned and turned into a screenplay even before publication, and directed by the screenwriter (Nunnally Johnson, a self-confessed “run-of-the-mill director”).
*. What a horrendous intro and narration from Alistair Cooke, heralded in the credits as a “distinguished journalist and commentator” (I wonder if he wrote that himself?). And it’s totally unnecessary. Even at the time they had to protest a little too much the truthfulness of the story.
*. I’m not a big believer in multiple personalities (or DID, as they’re now known). I doubt very much that they play out the way Eve’s did. But apparently the personality changes were just as fast in real life as they are depicted in the movie.
*. It was the ’50s. So was good ol’ Ralph’s first response to slap his woman around seen as an overreaction? Wrong?


*. David Wayne’s Ralph is actually a very poorly realized, mysterious character. At times he is threatening, at others a comic figure (the cuckold and rube), and at others sympathetic. Finally he just disappears entirely, to be replaced by the total cipher “Earl” (and how the psycho case Eve got custody of Bonnie is anyone’s guess). It’s like the movie doesn’t have room for anyone else but Eve.
*. Total recall. I can’t remember the name of a single one of my grade school, or for that matter high school, teachers. How does “Jane” remember all of hers?


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