I first became obsessed with classic movies at the age of thirteen, when I saw Dark Victory (1939) on broadcast TV. Bette Davis caught my eye—and that was it, I was hooked. I soon had a nice collection of classic flicks on VHS—all recorded from TV.
I must have watched them all several times, but the one I remember best is All About Eve (1950). For a while, I think I must have watched that movie once a week. It was irresistible to me. I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what it was about those impeccably dressed theater people that reached me. My best guess is that this was one of the first times that I recognized I was watching a well-made movie. Rather than being drawn to separate elements, like the star or the plot, on some level I realized I was seeing something that was more than the sum of the parts.
And so on lovely summer days, when I was on vacation from school, I watched Eve many times. Sure I’d hang out with my friends, and there were family vacations—but once I had all that free time, I chose to spend a great deal of it with this clever group of martini-sipping New Yorkers.
With the exception of a high school friend who would watch anything, and my dad—who liked to watch classic flicks while ironing his shirts—I didn’t know anyone else who liked these movies. I don’t recall being bothered by that, but on some level I must have wished I knew more people who enjoyed Eve as I did.
Years later, my boyfriend took me to an outdoor screening of All About Eve. I couldn’t believe it. In a series that usually screened Grease, Raiders of the Lost Ark and other crowd pleasers, they were showing this dialogue-driven flick in a parking lot on a warm summer night!
As I watched Eve for the first time with a crowd, I could have recited every line. That was nothing new. The thing that excited me was that I could see there were other people in the crowd who seemed to know the movie as well as I did. And it was a big crowd. The parking lot was full. There had to have been a couple of hundred people there. It was a marvelous night.