The now-iconic “All About Eve” became a sensation, with memorable lines from the script still spoken today, like “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”. Many remarked how the film was undoubtedly the best picture of the year, even better than “Sunset Boulevard.”
The superbly witty script about female friendship and enmity had always been a defining theme of Davis’s career, but it was never so comically showcased as it was in “All About Eve.” Bette, with her talent for sharp dialogue, had been waiting for this role to come along for a long, long time.
Released From Her Contract
It was not simple for an actress as demanding as Better Davis to get a contract with her reputation as strong-headed and stubborn. Her new contract had new terms and conditions set up by Warner Bros. studio executives. This time, they refused Bette's approval for any script she was offered and as a result, she was often cast in roles she despised.
One such example was "Beyond the Forest." Bette begged to be released from the role but her wishes were rebuffed. Once filming was done, she requested to be released from her contract and this time, her request was honored.
The reviews for "Beyond the Forest" were scathing, with many critics remarking what "an unfortunate finale it was to her spectacular career." But Bette knew it wasn't the end of her career and wouldn't let this ruin her prospects so she set out to begin her career as a freelancing actress.
Davis went on to star in "All About Eve", playing a renowned but aging Broadway star. When she first read the screenplay, she was mesmerized, describing the script as the best she had ever read. During production, she befriended her co-star Anne Baxter and the two would remain lifelong friends.
Bette Davis was nominated for an Oscar and won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival Awards. "All About Eve" director Joseph Mankiewicz would later remark on how Bette was letter perfect, saying how prepared she was for her scenes and a "director's dream."
Huh, would you look at that — when you give the woman a role she is passionate about and happy with, she magically becomes easy to work with. Who knew? The critics couldn't get enough of Bette's performance in "All About Eve", describing it as her "all-time best" and commending her honest portrayal of a vain actress with a touch of vulnerability.
Bette's Fourth Marriage
While filming Davis also met Gary Merrill and the two soon fell in love and had a whirlwind affair. Gary was still married to his first wife, and Davis was still married to Grant Sherry but the two soon got divorced, just so they could be together.
The two were smitten with each other and got married approximately three weeks after Davis and Sherry's divorce was finalized. Gary would be Bette's fourth and final husband. Merrill adopted Davis's daughter with Sherry and the next year, Davis and Merrill adopted a newborn baby girl they named Margot, after Bette's character in "All About Eve."