Friday, November 04, 2005

All About Eve

There is only one dress that most people associate with "All About Eve": The off-the-shoulder cocktail dress that Bette Davis wore.
Edith Head discusses how it came about in her Edith Head's Hollywood (with Paddy Calistro; E.P. Dutton, Inc.; New York; 1983; page 93):
Bette Davis is a perfectionist when it comes to costumes. So am I. That's why we work together so well. She tests her clothes, she takes time with the fittings to make sure everything works well for the requirements of the script, and she discusses any problems long before she goes on camera. But there was a major exception in All About Eve. The off-the-shoulder dress for the big party scene was an accident. My original sketch had a square neckline and a tight bodice. I had extremely high hopes for this dress because the fabric, a brown gros de Londres (a heavy silk), photographs magnificently in black and white, and it was trimmed in rich brown sable.
(Left to right: Anne Baxter, Bette Davis,
Marilyn Monroe, and Georrge Sanders)
Because we were working on such a tight deadline, the dress was made up the night before Bette was scheduled to wear it. i went in early the day of the filming to make sure the dress was pressed and camera-ready. There was Bette, already in the dress, looking quizzically at her own reflection in the mirror. I was horrified. The dress didn't fit at all. The to of the tree-quarter-length sleeves had a fullness created by pleats, but someone had miscalculated and the entire bodice and neckline were too big. There was no time to save anything, and a change would delay the shooting. I told Bette not to worry, that I would personally tell Joe Mankiewicz what happenened.
(A very young Marilyn Monroe
from "All About Eve")
I had just about reached the door, my knees feeling as if they were going to give out, when Bette told me to turn around and look. She pulled the neckline off her shoulders, shook one shoulder sexily, and said, "Don't you like it better like this, anyway?" It looked wonderful and I could have hugged her. In fact, I think I did. With a few simple stitches I secured the neckline in place so she could move comfortably, and she left for the set. Above all, I did not want to delay the shooting.
How come nothing like that ever happens to Miss Maven when SHE gets dresses. . . . (Sob!)
For a sure thing, try


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