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J Mankiewicz Trivia
Joseph
Mankiewicz

5. All About Eve
Screenplay by Joseph Mankiewicz
Based on “The Wisdom of Eve,” a short story and radio play by Mary Orr

Some facts about the writing of the film:

Joseph Mankiewicz was the younger brother of Herman Mankiewicz (#4, Citizen Kane).

• His brother Herman, already a screenwriter, got him a job in Berlin in 1929 writing intertitles for silent films. He then became a “dialoguist” and then a screenwriter.

• The original short story “The Wisdom of Eve,” by Mary Orr, appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine in May 1946, and was produced as a radio drama for NBC. –IMDB

• The short story was based on a true incident Austrian actress Elisabeth Bergner (often called the “Garbo of the stage”) told Orr about the 1943 Broadway production of The Two Mrs. Carrolls. A young actress who named herself Martina Lawrence (after a character played on stage by Bergner) stood outside the stage door for months wearing a red coat. Orr: “The girl lied to her, deceived her, did things behind her back–even went after her husband…” –The New York Times, 10/1/2000, Vanity Fair, April 1999

• Joseph L. Mankiewicz: “They brought the girl inside, and she became the secretary. The play had closed down and they were recasting. When it came time to do a reading, she did the reading and even Bergner's husband, Paul Czinner, said she was remarkable. In her memoirs, Bergner says, 'Three weeks later [after talking to Orr], I was at the hairdresser and someone gave me a copy of this Hearst magazine, and there was the whole story I told Mary Orr.'” –The New York Times, 10/1/2000

All About Eve Prod • “After Orr dramatized the story as a radio play, it came to the attention of Mankiewicz, and he and [producer Darryl F.] Zanuck agreed it would be his next movie. The title was changed from The Wisdom of Eve to, briefly, Eve Harrington, then Best Performance, and, finally, All About Eve.”–The New York Times, 10/1/2000

• Fox bought the story rights for $3,500 with no credit stipulations. Joseph L. Mankiewicz combined “The Wisdom of Eve” with a story he had been developing about an actress who recalls her life when receiving an award. –IMDB

• Mankiewicz invented the “Sarah Siddens Award” for the film. In 1952, two years after the film came out, an actual Sarah Siddens Award was created, physically modeled on the one in the film. The 1967-68 Actor of the Year award was given to Celeste Holm, who played Karen Richards in the film; in 1973, Bette Davis (Margo Channing) was given an honorary Sarah Siddens Award. –Los Angeles Times, 7/25/1999

• Star Bette Davis credited screenwriter Joseph Mankiewicz with saving her career by writing such a great character. Davis: “Mankiewicz is a genius–the man responsible for the greatest role of my career. He resurrected me from the dead.” –moviediva.com

• Mankiewicz had been forewarned that Davis sometimes changed dialogue, but, he said later, “…not one syllable is different on the screen than in the screenplay.”

• Years later, Davis recalled Mankiewicz's description of Margo Channing: “He said she was the kind of dame who would treat her mink coat like a poncho!” –Vanity Fair, April 1999

• Mankiewicz: “Male behavior is so elementary. All About Adam could be done as a short.” –moviediva.com

Read a page from the screenplay of All About Eve.