Friday, December 15, 2017

Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi

Buying Time
"Everything You Just Said is Wrong."

The eighth episode of the linear Star Wars saga is out, written and directed by Rian Johnson this time, but it is the second of a traditional trilogy in the series. Like The Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones, so it is darker, raising stakes and setting expectations for a third act, which will wrap up its story. 

But, it also has another function—it buys time, changing up some things, filling in some back-story, doing some adjustments, complications, and generally, teasing for a last act, where—if the past is any indication—they will cram in some necessary bit of information to careen to a conclusion that we should have seen coming if the second act didn't do some deflection away from it.

Anyway, it is once again, a dark time for the galaxy. If we were to believe The Force Awakens, a lunatic fringe of Imperial survivors led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) is trying to gain control over the Galaxy from the Resistance, who brought Peace and Order to the Galaxy. A new recruit, Rey (Daisy Ridley) who has an unnaturally strong connection to the Force, spent the previous episode becoming embroiled in Rebel matters and, personally, set out to find the One Man who might bring things to a peaceful conclusion, the legendary Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). When we left the last movie, Rey was imploringly holding out Luke's light-saber to him.

But, wait...(there's going to be a lot of that, so get used to it). It seems things are not going so good after all. The rebellion of General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher, who has a lot to do here and is extraordinarily good doing it) doesn't seem to be quite in the control it once had. They are evacuating their rebel base, just at the point the First Order jumps out of hyper-space to stop them. General Hux (Domhnall Gleason) gives orders to fire on the base...and then gets a bit distracted. He's got the rebels dead to rights and when he has the opportunity to deliver a death blow, he doesn't. The Supreme Leader isn't very pleased with him and literally mops the floor with him. I couldn't blame him. A plot-point will come up later that might explain why they let the Good Guys jump to light-speed, but that might be too charitable. Once the jump is made, we go back to where we left off.

The ocean planet of Ahch-To, with a convenient couple of islands on it. We reprise the scene where Rey gives Luke his light-saber. There's been a lot of internet speculation about what his first words would be. I won't spoil it. But his reaction is perfect. Hamill's Luke Skywalker here is an interesting character, and, bless his heart, every time Hamill is on-screen, he makes the most of his time. I will try to be as spoiler-free here as possible, but Johnson gives you a reason why Luke would have run this particular spot, and why he chooses to remain there at a time when worlds might be crumbling. A lot of echoing of sentiments about the Jedi Knights in the prequels is made and, frankly, I find them legitimate. I have no issues with anything Hamill or his character do in this film...although it will cause a fair amount of hysterically feverish pixels being tossed about on the internet. 

But, back to the rebellion—the optical wipes are done quite well and done in the obvious manner that they should be, given the series' origins in "Buck Rogers" serials. There is much breast-beating done about the escape as Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac, who loves doing this stuff, you can just tell) has used the opportunity to destroy one of the First Order's super-dreadnought ships (using possibly the silliest of the Rebel fleet's ship designs— space. There's a lot of laser fire typically going on in these dog-fights, and no small share of individual ships blowing up. So, why oh why, would you create a ship-design with ready-to-blow-up bombs on it that you have to situate over the other ship (necessitating getting close to them) and then "dropping" them in gravity-less space. Oh, I know. X-wings make turns—one brakes and does a drop-behind maneuver, as well—TIE-fighters growl like baby tigers in soundless space, but...oh man, this is really dumb. Of course, given the fact that they're dumb ships with a dumb plan, they have a lot of casualties, and Poe is demoted by Leia from Commander to Captain. Off to the next convenient rebel base, they travel.

On Snokes' ship, the same thing is going on—the Supreme Commander dresses down Hux and brings in Kylo Ren (Adam Driver, who continues to be terrific in a tough, tough role), who, after being read the riot-act by Snokes ("...and TAKE OFF that ridiculous helmet!" he snarls) is given the task of pursuing the Rebels. This is accomplished by one of the two new wrinkles in "Star Wars" arcana—tracking the fleeing ships through hyper-space (that would take a LOT of signal strength, but wait, it gets better). The rebels are nearly out of fuel (fuel? Has anybody ever mentioned fuel in Star Wars before?) and jump back into real space...they have enough for a short jump, but that's about it. It's a good thing the First Order can't track them through...oh, wait, there they are. And for the second time, the Rebels are sitting ducks. What does the First order do? Kylo takes a bunch of TIE-fighters out and cut down their defenses and ships as much as possible. Then, after having done that...they stop.

Why do they stop? Hux starts to pick off transport ships one by one...whenever the mood strikes him, I guess. This gives a chance for Finn (John Boyega) and a new character, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), a chance to go gallivanting to the planet of Canto Bight to find a particular kind of "cracker" who can disable the tracking device on the lead First Order ship (they only have the one tracker installed, it seems). So, while Finn, Rose, and BB-8 go looking for that, Hux very...slowly...attacks the transports.

Now, with three fields of story going, the film starts to do some very judicious cross-cutting, as, having been stymied by her encounters with Luke, Rey begins to be contacted by Kylo Ren aaaallllllll the way across the Galaxy, enticing her to join the Dark Side of the Force. Just like tracking a ship through hyper-space, this must take a lot of energy, too. But, you've got to bridge the space- and story-gaps somehow, so...go with it. It gets interesting. But, it doesn't necessarily make things better. It does move the plot along—that's basically the first 45 minutes of the movie and it's 152 minutes long, making it the longest film in the series. As you can imagine, things get complicated.
And, at that point, I shut up. To say anything...ANY-thing else in particular will spoil what joys any Star Wars fan (or any nuance any NON-Star Wars fan) will enjoy in watching this movie. It is the second part of a Star Wars trilogy. New characters will appear—particularly Laura Dern's Vice Admiral Holdo and Benicio del Toro's rapscallion DJ (I wish there was more of him in the movie)—and because it is supposed to be a bit darker than the other entries, some characters will not make it through the movie. DJ...will just disappear. On the other hand, there are some interesting call-backs from past films, which will soften some of the blows for the die-hards.

A friend admitted recently that they'd never seen "a Star Wars." Well, this one is no place to jump in. It is, legitimately, it's own story—it has a beginning, middle and end with no cliff-hanger other than the whole thread of how everything gets resolved. But, this one has so much back-story, I can't recommend this as a good starting point. You'd get lost without, at least, seeing VII: The Force Awakens, and then, the first trilogy and the prequels, in that order. But, that's a lot of studying to do for something that's supposed to be entertainment. I've had job training that lasted less than that would take.

The other thing (for die-hard's) is that whatever you're expecting—and more importantly, if you THINK you know what's going on—you're wrong. Enormous things happen in this, and some aspects, questions, origins...will simply be dropped without resolution or a tidy explanation. This will frustrate some. Not me. I took rather a perverse joy in it. Hey..."Sith" happen. As the character DJ says at one point, "Good guys. Bad guys. Made-up words."

I like that. But, I'm still having problems with the villains. I think they're not much of a threat. They're not as vicious as they should be—the whole movie teeters on the fact that they just don't go in blasting everything and bloody end the rebel threat. I don't find them credibly motivated. And Kylo Ren?  Driver pulls it off, but he has to be the most un-readably vague villain that there is. He is constantly in conflict, wanting to be like his grand-pappy Vader, but always spouting about "forgetting the past, destroying it." Dude. Has anybody played back what you're saying to you? What do you want, Kylo? What's the game-plan? Hell, what's the end-game? What are you trying to accomplish? I hope Episode IX tells us that he's suffering from a midi-chlorian overdose and prescribed some Alderaan Adderall. He may be the most pitiable bad-guy since Wile E. Coyote.

So...good? Bad? I dunno, is there an "ambivalent" side to the Force? The Last Jedi is clearly better than The Force Awakens. It takes chances. It takes chances that will upset people (ya know, like the prequels). It goes places people won't a purpose I don't think the producers have figured out yet. But, I hope the philosophy is in the same vein as this film, not going the safe route despite the lapses it took to get there. One must keep in mind that Star Wars was made to be a "gee-whiz" "Buck Rogers" adventure story with grit and texture. One mustn't take it too seriously.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

For "The Greater Good"

So, the new Disney film opens tomorrow, and the thought brought to mind an old post I did in a more civilized age "before the dark times." I was reading a lot of film blogs then—not so much now—and there were these things called "blogathons" (although "memes" was already a viable internet term) in which resources would be pooled to create a skein of similarly themed posts. I did them if there was something to contribute, but this one intrigued me and I had an answer instantly (and I still think it's the right one, despite how painful it might be). 

Set the "Way-Back" Machine for 2011, Sherman... 

  The proposition was simple: Univarn (creator of the excellent site "A Life in Equinox," —sadly shuttered since his last post in 2014, but, still, check it out) proposed a blog-a-thon whose theme was so compelling I couldn't resist.  Called "The Greater Good Blogathon," its intention was simple...and devious:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to forever alter the course of cinema as we know it. You have the opportunity to wipe one film from the history books entirely. Our unique time-blending technology has created a wormhole through which you can simply delete the existence of any film ever made. However, you should not underestimate the sheer power that comes along with such a decision. Even the tiniest of ripples could mutate our understanding of cinema as we know it. So, what will you do? What careers will you make or break in the process? The time for your decision is at hand.


WHERE: YOUR BLOG (and mine)

1.The Movie You Destroyed
2.Your Intended Outcome
3.The Actual Result

Wow.The Power.Heady. Intoxicating.There are any number of films I wish never existed (and that I never experienced—I have a rating category called "Waste of Time" that I use too frequently). But this is for The Greater Good. Sacrifices must be made. I could choose a Bad Film, an Unnecessary Remake or Sequel, but what good would that do? This isn't about selfishness and my needs, the idea is to help Cinema and maybe Society At Large.* My choice came immediately to mind, and only solidified there (like a tumor) after two weeks.

And here's the perverse part: it's a move I like, even love. "Why would you DO that?" asked an acquaintance. Because a lot of people love it, too. Probably too much. And its influence has so pervaded our culture that it has practically become a religion—I guarantee there is a place in San Diego (a wretched hive of scum and villainy) this weekend where the devotees are speaking in tongues, poor, poor devils. The elimination of this one film will take out an entire film series and the constant griping of the sub-set of humanity.

For the greater good, it must go. Executioner, bring out the film cans:

Star Wars or Episode IV: A New Hope. Whatever it's called, it has to go.  

Look, I really do love this film as I've written about ("Star Wars and Me"). And my choice to eliminate it has nothing to do with the prequels that everyone is so upset about.** No, I'm eliminating Star Wars, despite my love for it. Think of all the changes eliminating this one film might engender. Movies (their economics and the way they are marketed), as we know them now would be completely different.

Think of it a moment. Take away Star Wars and its enormous success and it would completely alter the movie landscape of today, for there would be none of those things that the first movie caused that we accept as commonplace today.  No guaranteed sequels (and, more importantly, no three-quels). No prequels.  No Holiday special. No knock-offs, animated or otherwise. No merchandising.  No toys for every major release and tie-in 7-11 cups. No (sadly) symphonic film score renaissance. No Battle Beyond the Stars. No The Last Starfighter. No Special Editions. No 3-D conversions. 

No fan-boy culture (things would be a lot quieter). No comic book movies (the success of Star Wars inspired the Salkinds to make the first Superman film). No Star Trek films, maybe (Star Wars convinced Paramount to abandon the "Star Trek: Phase II" series and make films instead). There would be no mega-blockbusters, unless they were going for Oscar recognition. There would be a general leveling of the playing field, and more films will have a literary basis (rather than be movie pastiches). Lucas' career without Star Wars more closely resembles Steven Spielberg's, not dependent on maintaining the successful Star Wars franchise—he makes Apocalypse Now (with John Milius' original, more interesting ending) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (although this time starring Tom Selleck, the outline having already been written by Lucas and Philip Kaufman) as well as some interesting collaborative efforts, some still with Spielberg, some with his mentor, Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola, not making Apocalypse, does not go so heavily into debt and makes a more divergent group of films, including his Tucker: the Man and His Dream

No ILM, although the digital revolution and CGI will probably happen anyway, but the film industry's obsession with effects-laden science-fiction and fantasy films will depend on some other success. James Cameron will still get into films (inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey), but his career-model will not be based on Lucas.' Captain Eo is never made, but E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial might be. Ray Harryhausen has a longer career. Lawrence Kasdan still works. Pixar does not exist without Lucas' establishment of it, but one suspects that John Lasseter would still be in the film industry. 

More importantly, the studios would have more of a stranglehold over their movie product and the distribution of it, and the ones who have control over the industry are the producers, not the production companies of entrepreneurial directors. 

As far as The Big Picture, though, the situation that screenwriter William Goldman described in "Adventures in the Screen Trade" would still exist: "Nobody Knows Anything." Funding what the public wants would be only a little less predictable without the Star Wars success to show them the way.

* Man, you can tell I'm being pretentious—even if facetiously—when I use too many Capital Letters.

** Roger Ebert has an interesting thing to say about Episode I: The Phantom Menace.  He opines that if Episode 1 was actually the first one released, he wrote when the film was released "The Phantom Menace" would be hailed as a visionary breakthrough. But this is the fourth movie of the famous series, and we think we know the territory."  True, I think.  How many fan-boys have shown the films in Episode order to their children (if...uh...they have children), only to have them say that "A New Hope sucks, Dad.  I hate these kids with the dumb hair!"  So many things drive a wedge between parent and child.  Star Wars probably isn't any different.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Rising of the Moon

The Rising of the Moon (John Ford, 1957) Interesting, charming anthology film from Ford, featuring three short stories (of approximately thirty minutes each) from the Emerald Isle.

Ford was able to parlay his success with The Quiet Man—made on a shoe-string (and with a Western in the bargain for Republic Pictures) and reaping a pot of gold—to make this labor of love to promote the Irish film industry, with a cast of actors from the country's Abbey Theater (which figures prominently in the film's third sequence). As a carrot for American audiences, Ford uses Tyrone Power as a presenter for each of the stories, each different in tone and style, but bearing Ford's ability to bring out the best in his cast, while also keeping a reign on several threads of character arc interlacing throughout each tale, to make a verdant pattern full of blarney. Each one also has a distinct style of shooting, one landscaped, one close-quartered, one urban and chiaroscuro, that slyly reflect themes and moods of the story, even if the whimsy is a constant factor.

The three stories are thus: 

"The Majesty of the Law"—A police inspector (Cyril Cusack) ventures to the country-side, wind-blasted and rough-hewn to arrest a man for assault.  He attracts the interest of some locals, briefly toys with a rapscallion (Jack McGowran) who is trying to avoid him, then visits an old friend to shoot the breeze. Things are not what they seem, and the segment ends on a complicated note.

"A Minute's Wait"—A busy, typical day at Dunfail station.  A brief stop-over opens the bar and the train empties of passengers. Then things get complicated involving a match-making minister, a honeymooning British couple, young lovers, a goat, and a ghost story-in-passing. Just when things get resolved, more complications ensue, and the train is delayed another "minute's wait." The train empties again...and again...and again, as places change, stories get crossed, and get schedules get thrown out the window, while everyone gets increasingly drunk. Man schedules, God laughs, and life gets in the way...and nothing is stationary.

"1921"—The entire world seems to be a little off-kilter and threatening to fall into the abyss in this story set during the Black and Tan Wars, and the height of the British/Irish conflict. Sean Curran (Donal Donnelly) is set to be hung for treason. A snaking queue of townspeople parades in protest in front of the prison as the scaffold is prepared ("That step is loose. Fix it or he'll break his neck before he falls" says the Irish prison functionary in a display of gallows humor) Curran is set to hang and the Brit overseers are feeling the pressure keeping the lid on a situation that could quickly get out of hand.  A visitation by nuns, one of them Curran's sister inflames events and the intrigue moves to the streets as the Army presence builds up and loyalties are tested. "There's a little treason in all of us," says a local bobby working for the Brits, summing up the situation and the tale.

It's great story-telling all the way through, with nothing familiar in the Ford crowd-pleasing arsenal: no John Wayne hook, no western fallback, no Ford stock company dependence, just the Old Master weaving his magic, with an artist's eye and a director's sense of pace, detail, and theatricality, each episode given its own look and feel, everything fresh, but rooted in the man's  presentation and gifts, unfamiliar, yet unmistakably Ford country.

Psycho is not my favorite Hitchcock film, but I revere it as a display of the director at the top of his story-telling gifts and mastery of the form. In the same way, The Rising of the Moon shows Ford's abilities to play with the arts of tale and film, and is the purest example of the director's gifts..and his craft.  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Now, I've Seen Everything Department: Alfred Hitchcock Part II (Addendum)

It's been awhile since I've done "Now I've Seen Everything" post (but I've been working on them...oh, I have been working on them), but once in awhile one comes across something new. Rather than re-post the whole bloody series again, I'll just attach this addendum and incorporate it into the longer series later.

Bon Voyage (1944) Hitchcock was too old to serve during World War II, obviously, but he asked David O. Selznick for a leave of absence to go back to London to make propaganda films for the British Ministry of Information. Selznick initially refused, but released Hitchcock from his contract for one month (as long as he continued work on the script for Spellbound). At the beginning of 1944, Hitchcock began work on two french-language films, using displaced French actors—with the exception of this film's John Blythe—to be distributed in Europe to encourage Nazi resistance.

The first, Bon Voyage, is the shorter of the two but the most complex. Rather than making a flag-waving propaganda piece, Hitchcock tells the story of a young RAF pilot (Blythe) who has made it it back from a POW camp and tells his story to a couple of intelligence officers. The story tells how he and a fellow escapee crossed Nazi-occupied France with the help of the French Resistance. He now carries a personal letter from his companion to a loved one. When he finishes his story, the officers ask to see the letter, but the young pilot refuses out of duty to his friend. The officers then go through the story again, this time telling him the true story—that his companion was actually a Gestapo agent, charged with finding out who worked in the Resistance and eliminating them...and the letter?

Moral ambiguity does not make for good propaganda in government circles and so Bon Voyage received limited distribution in Europe.

Aventure Malgache (1944) Hitchcock's second thirty minute propaganda film is even further removed from the first. Actor Paul Clarus (real name Claude Dauphin) tells other actors, preparing for a play, of his activities in 1940 for the French Resistance in Madagascar, planning evacuations and running an underground radio station while, in his role as a lawyer, running afoul of the Chef de la Sûreté, Michel (Paul Bonifas), leading to his capture and imprisonment, until the day of liberation when he is set free to broadcast to the entire island not resist the British invasion. In a scene reminiscent of Casablanca, after Michel listens to his broadcasts, he replaces his bottle of Vichy water with scotch and soda and his portrait of Phillipe Petain with one of Queen Victoria. Hitchcock's production is even less elaborate than Bon Voyage with minimal sets spruced up with impressive lighting and hard edits even for the flashback sequences. 

Although Bon Voyage did see some relative exposure in Europe, but Aventure Malgache, with its political cynicism, never made it out of the Ministry of Information and was not seen until the BFI restored it in 1993.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Don't Make a Scene: All About Eve

The Story: I've done previous "Don't Make a Scene" features with All About Eve: "Eve's Story," and one featuring Marilyn Monroe and my favorite exchange from it. I could probably do one for just about every section of the film, as it crackles (and cackles) with good dialogue, good ideas, great performances, and is wickedly good fun.

Then, there's this one that has been waiting in the wings for awhile, ending with the ninth greatest film dialogue of AFI's 100 Great Movie Quotes. The scene is full of great lines, zingers, bon mots and neat turns of phrase, zestily delivered, but that capper, timed for effect, presentation, and ominous portent has been embraced, borrowed, purloined, and championed by drama queens of both (and all) sexes.

The Set-Up: Margo Channing (Bette Davis) is not in a role she wants to play. While beau Bill Simpson* (Gary Merrill) has been off to Hollywood to direct a film, Margo has been having issues with problem she's none too acquainted with—self-doubt. She's worried about her relationship with Simpson—that he might have been stepping out with younger women on the West Coast—and her personal assistant Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter), who seems to be encroaching on Margo's life. Before Simpson's combination welcome home/birthday party there's a little pre-function friction after Margo happens upon him talking to Eve. Once she leaves, Margo and Bill are reunited (where's that seat belt?).


(Eve)leaves. A short lull. Margo looks into cigarette boxes. Bill eyes her curiosity, crosses to the fire. 

BILL Looks like I'm going to have a very fancy party... 
MARGO I thought you were going to be late- 
BILL When I'm guest of honor? 
MARGO I had no idea you were even here. 
BILL I ran into Eve on my way upstairs; she told me you were dressing. 
MARGO That never stopped you before. 
BILL Well, we started talking, she wanted to know all about Hollywood, she seemed so interested... 
MARGO She's a girl of so many interests. 
BILL It's a pretty rare quality these days. 
MARGO She's a girl of so many rare qualities. 
BILL So she seems. 
MARGO (the steel begins to flash) So you've pointed out, so
often. So many qualities, so often. Her loyalty, efficiency, devotion, warmth, affection - and so young. So young and so fair... 
Bill catches the drift. Incredulously. 

BILL I can't believe you're making this up - it sounds like something out of an old Clyde Fitch play... 
MARGO Clyde Fitch, though you may not think so, was well before my time! 
BILL (laughs) I've always denied the legend that you were in 'Our American Cousin' the night Lincoln was shot... 
MARGO I don't think that's funny! 
BILL Of course it's funny - this is all too laughable to be anything else. You know what I think about this - this age obsession of yours - and now this ridiculous attempt to whip yourself up into a jealous froth because I spent ten minutes with a stage-struck kid- 
MARGO Twenty minutes! 
BILL Thirty minutes, forty minutes! What of it? 
MARGO Stage-struck kid... she's a young lady - of qualities. 
MARGO And I'll have you know I'm fed up with both the young lady and her qualities! Studying me as if - as if I were a play or a set of blueprints! 
MARGO How I walk, talk, think, eat, sleep! 
BILL Now how can you take offense at a kid trying in every way to be as much like her ideal as possible! 
MARGO Stop calling her a kid! 
MARGO It so happens there are particular aspects of my life to which I would like to maintain sole and exclusive rights and privileges! 
BILL For instance what? 
MARGO For instance - you! 
BILL This is my cue to take you in my arms and reassure you - but I'm not going to. I'm too mad- 
MARGO - guilty. 
BILL Mad! 
BILL Darling, there are certain characteristics for which you are famous - on stage and off. I love you for some of them - and in spite of others. I haven't let those become too important to me. They're part of your equipment for getting along in what is laughably called out environment - you've got to keep your teeth sharp. All right. But you will not sharpen them on me - or on Eve... 
MARGO What about her teeth? What about her fangs? 
BILL She hasn't cut them yet, and you know it! So when you start judging an idealistic dreamy-eyed kid by the barroom, Benzedrine standards of this megalomaniac society - I won't have it! 
BILL Eve Harrington has never by word, look, thought or suggestion indicated anything to me but her adoration for you and her happiness at our being in love! And to intimate anything else doesn't spell jealousy to me - it spells a paranoic insecurity that you should be ashamed of! 
MARGO Cut! Print it! What happens in the next reel? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pit? 
EVE'S VOICE (quietly) Miss Channing? 
Bill and Margo look off. Eve is in the room. They have no way of knowing how long she's been there. 
EVE The hors d'oeuvres are here. Is there anything else I can do? 
MARGO Thank you, Eve. I'd like a Martini - very dry.
BILL I'll get it. 
(he crosses to Eve) 
BILL What'll you have? 

Eve, involuntarily, looks to Margo. 
MARGO A milkshake? 
Eve smiles, turns to Bill. 

EVE  A Martini. Very dry, please... 
Bill smiles back and starts across the landing toward the pantry. As he crosses the stairs, Karen, Lloyd and Max come up from the street level below. General greetings. Bill continues up to pantry. Eve and then Margo come up to add their welcome...
EVE (to Karen) May I have your coat? 
KAREN Don't bother, I can take it up myself... 
EVE Please... 

Karen yields with a "thank you, Eve-." Eve goes up with the coat. Lloyd looks after her approvingly. 
LLOYD I like that girl. That quality of quiet graciousness...  MARGO  ... Among so many quiet qualities. 

They start for the living room. 
KAREN Margo, nothing you've ever done has made me as happy as your taking Eve in... 
MARGO I'm so happy you're happy. 
MAX Look, you haven't been running a settlement house exactly - the kid's earned her way. You had a pretty mixed-up inventory when she took over - merchandise laying all over the shop... 
LLOYD You've got Margo mixed up with a five-and-ten-cent store...
MARGO Make it Bergdorf Goodman... and now everything is on its proper shelf, eh, Max? Done up in little ribbons. 
MARGO I could die right now and nobody'd be confused. How about you, Max? 
MAX How about me what? 

They've come to a halt near the fireplace. 
MARGO Supposed you dropped dead. What about your inventory? 
MAX I ain't gonna die. Not with a hit. 
KAREN This is the most ghoulish conversation... 

Bill brings two Martinis. He hands one to Margo. 
MARGO (it drips ice) Thank you. 
BILL Nothing, really... 
MARGO The kid - junior, that is - will be right down. Unless you'd like to take her drink up to her... 
BILL (smiles) I can always get a fresh one. Karen - you're a Gibson girl... 

He hands Eve's drink to Karen. Max has wandered off. Other guests are arriving. Margo gulps her drink, hands Bill the empty glass. He puts it on a passing tray. Margo takes a fresh one at the same time. 
LLOYD The general atmosphere is very Macbethish. What has or is about to happen? 
MARGO (to Bill) What is he talking about? 
BILL Macbeth. 
KAREN (to Margo) We know you, we've seen you before like this. Is it over - or just beginning? 
Margo surveys them all.

MARGO Fasten your seat belts. 
MARGO It's going to be a bumpy night.

All About Eve

Words by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Pictures by Milton Krasner and Joseph L. Makiewicz

All About Eve is available on DVD from Fox Home Video.

* When I published this on another site it provoked a bit of a reaction. I had Gary Merrill's character's name as "Bill Simpson." Someone wrote in saying "Gary Merrill's name is Bill SAMPSON. It's hard to take you seriously when you make mistakes like that." Two things struck me about that: 1) anyone would take me seriously and 2) Although I recall the name being SAMPSON in the film, in IMDB it's SIMPSON (so I put it that way), Wikipedia has it as SAMPSON. TCM has it as Simpson [Sampson]. And in the film?  Take a look.
Anyway, I'll stick with Simpson, even though it SOUNDS like Sampson in the film. SOME-body got it wrong...and I still take All About Eve seriously.