All About Eve (1950)

I am always a little intrigued by films about cinema: the inward-looking eye, the self-criticism (more often than not). From The Artist to Kaagaz ke Phool, there’s something about films like this that I usually find appealing: perhaps because they offer a glimpse, even if unsavoury, into what lies beyond what one is currently viewing.

All About Eve isn’t about cinema; it’s about a related art, theatre (but there are nods here, aplenty, to cinema: there’s a passing reference to Zanuck—who produced All About Eve; and there are instances of people vying for a role, possibly even a career, in Hollywood). It’s about the ambition, the cut-throat competition, the fiercely burning desire to stay in the limelight—or to claw one’s way up there, in the first place.

The story begins at a glittering but exclusive awards night. This is the annual awards ceremony of the fictitious Sarah Siddons Society, and the who’s who of the theatre world is gathered here. While a boring veteran actor gives his speech, we are introduced, through a voiceover, to some of the characters attending this function. Characters, too, who play an important part in the story.

To begin with, there is Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), an influential journalist.

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Island in the Sun (1957)

RIP, Harry Belafonte.

I have an admission to make: Harry Belafonte was the first singer I ever crushed on.

When I was a child, my parents had a large collection of LPs, and among the many singers we heard on those, the ones who stood out for me were Connie Francis, Pat Boone, Jim Reeves—and Harry Belafonte. I still remember a Belafonte album (Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean) we had, which was one of my favourites. This one was also present among the LPs at my maternal grandparents’ home in Kolkata, which we visited sometimes for Christmas. My mother’s father had worked for the Indian music giant HMV, so their home had a massive collection of LPs, with Belafonte front and centre. We didn’t just listen to his carols and hymns at Christmas; we listened to every song he’d made popular, from the soulful Jamaica Farewell (one of the first English language songs I learnt to sing) to hilarious ones like Matilda, Man Smart Woman Smarter, and the classic There’s a Hole in the Bucket (which, by the way, is also a favourite with my daughter: she and I sing it together and always end up having a good laugh).

I loved his voice. I thought the photo of him, smiling and so handsome, on the LP cover, showed that he didn’t just have the most fantastic voice, he was also easily the best-looking of all the singers.

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