All About Eve Could Have Accidentally Sparked An International Incident

One doesn't have to think too hard on why the 1950 classic "All About Eve" is still relevant, even celebrated, today. There's a reason it scored 14 nominations at the Academy Awards, four of which went to each of the film's female leads. From its all-too-clever dialogue to its sumptuous costume design, it's kind of a flawless film. But the one thing that keeps "All About Eve" in the conversation today is likely the timelessness of its subject matter. The story of veteran actress Margo Channing (Bette Davis) and her own struggle to stay relevant, especially as her protege Eve (Anne Baxter) endeavors to steal her life, is a tale as old as time. If it feels achingly specific, it's because the short story the film was adapted from was, in turn, based on the experiences of a real-life actress. But it's universal, too.

Writer-director Joseph Mankiewcz used the rivalry between Margo and Eve to address ambition and ego in all its forms. He commented deftly on the strained dynamic between women in disparate generations, and the hunger some can feel to replace another at the ebb of their prime. Eve works so well as a character — as both a foil to Margo and as an antagonist — because we've all crossed paths with an Eve at some point in our lives. As Mankiewcz later told New York Times writer Mel Gussow, "the world is full of Eves."

However insightful Mankiewcz's sentiments were, the universal themes in "All About Eve" didn't always work out in the film's favor. In fact, it very nearly earned the ire of one notable "Eve" in particular — one with close ties to a powerful figure in South America.

All About Evita

In 1951, 20th Century Fox was all set to enter "All About Eve" into the International Film Festival in Montevideo, Uruguay. What Fox didn't know, though, was that the subject matter within "Eve" had paralleled the life and career of Eva Perón, then-first lady of Argentina. Before marrying Argentinian President Juan Perón, Eva (known affectionately as Evita) was an actress herself, and it's that connection that worried particular officials of the State Department in Washington, D.C.

According to the behind-the-scenes tell-all "All About All About Eve," officials from Washington had to warn Fox against screening the film in Montevideo. As Uruguay neighbored Argentina, there was a chance President Perón and his first lady would see the film. And while the story of a "ruthless" young actress who'd do anything for success could have applied to anyone, the parallels between Eve and Eva were too great to take the risk of offending the South American dictator.

Variety later reported on the close call in detail, in a piece titled "All About Little Eva?" — but the potential of causing an international incident didn't stall the momentum of "All About Eve" one bit. People would continue to identify with the film, sometimes for the better, other times for the worse — but maybe that's another testament to its staying power. To this day, it remains a classic, and the issue of offending Evita is rarely mentioned now. Still, it's probably best to have erred on the side of caution.