from Phoebe 2002: An Essay in Verse
party . . . a night to go down in history.
(Satan's presence signified as an odor)
"You all put together?"
Birdie zips it up
And on this evening
Margo is gros partout: un grosse buveur;
Head, who designed
exclusively for Davis, is said to have mis-stitched
This story is
highly dubious as Head never made mistakes,
The architect of Hell, or Pandemonium,
a simulation of Heaven.
and is hemmed at the neckline with pure white eyelet.
Head has clearly made a dress the way Medea did:
She will descend
the stairs in this dress, after the little Birdie
she will descend deeper, into the sunken living room, fuming.
Bill has returned
from Hollywood as full of himself as ever.
blind to the irony
that, at this very instant, he continues to "see" incorrectly:
The obvious prototype for the character of Bill Sampson is Broadway/Hollywood
and most successful young director in the theatre":
40 his film
version of Streetcar would be released in 1951, the year after
All About Eve.
then it follows
that Aged in Wood, All About Eve's "play within a
play," is a potshot
depicts the downfall of Blanche DuBois, a neurotic, aging
Margo must play
in Aged in Wood is the inverse
Here Davis's predicament
coincides with Margo's:
the play, a younger version of herself, namely
[Tempestuous belle Julie Marsden insists on wearing
to her right;
and later, the columns of the plantation mansion
60 and Gone
With the Wind) likewise represents an antithesis
(Davis won an
Oscar for Jezebel in 1938, the year before Leigh won
in 1950, the year
before Leigh won for A Streetcar Named Desire,
Margo pauses at
the foot of the stairs, listening in.
She bounds through
the door. The culprits conspire
70 Bill smokes,
one foot on the large square ottoman:
behind the bars
of the handrail (confirmation, in Margo's eyes, of Eve's guilt?);
"Don't let me kill the pointor isn't it a story for grown-ups?"
Margo strikes a majestic pose, looks down on them from the railed landing.
Even before the
other guests arrive, the apartment
that's about to
erupt. It's all closing in:
huge "elephant ear" plant, ornate commode,
dishes, silver cigarette boxes and lighters,
Showcased on the
long marble mantelpiece,
Margo's Sarah Siddons Award.
to tell you about the time I
Eve responds cheerily:
"I'd like to hear it!"
with Birdie about Eve
Yet the scene in the living room is
played for something else:
work with female vanity
100 suddenly on the
same level (prior to this scene, there is no parity
They are dressed
the same, presented as symbolic options
All About Eve is prescient in
its anticipation of rebirth
110 eerily prescient
in its evocation of almost mechanical means
though always tracking
back, to the original template:
In the "darkness visible" of the subterranean
As Margo swoops
down the staircase
& then from
her shadow on the
130 She plummets
or Limbo, to
Their quarrel escalates
the room. She checks
It is Bill who
The air between
from a chalice,
with Eve so young,
in sodden filth
live flesh is standard
teeth sharp enough
"Cut! Print it! What happens in the next reel?"
indecision and ultimate indulgence
Her faith and will suspended;
190 and simultaneously
urges her to lapse further, doubling
as sugary as the "chocolate" Margo chews & chews.
To Eve: "What'll
very dry, please."
Eve's eyes follow
him out of the room.
She greets Karen,
Lloyd & Max at the top of the stairs.
Max wipes his forehead
with a hankie: It's hot in here!
She gave her Baby Jane cackle, then
quieted down, leaned forward, and
230 [end of "Miss D. Smokes"]
The three join Margo,
sinking into the room
Five stairs down
(Fifth Circle: The Wrathful,
as a blaze rages
in the fireplace behind them.
240 "I ain't goink to drop dead. Not with the heet."
conversation is interrupted by Bill's
atmosphere is very Macbethish
It is Lloyd, the
playwright, who says "Macbethish," an amazing statement
The Tartans or
Scottish Play being the preferred euphemisms,
Although the players
are now gathered outside of the theatre,
Margo breaks from
the group and slowly begins to walk away
"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."
please make sure all carry-on luggage is safely stored
unforgettable words, Margo's flight warning, call to mind
trip to the west coast, a literal departure rather than, at this incipiently
Martini that Margo tosses off is 2 oz. skimmed from
Bill "can always get a fresh one" (he meant drink,
fading fragrance of the dying rose" is how Baudelaire
Lifting her dress
with the cigarette-less hand,
like moths to her
fame, only to brush them off
She scoops another
drink from a passing tray,
striking from her
guest list. And what's this? Rising up
a biting remark"Dear Margo, you were
(his venom throbs
through her age-obsessed veins, which long for Never Land).
is "clad in raiment immortal," a radiant white evening gown,
both a "soft, weak creature" and
a "Beautiful, golden goddess"
of Eve, who descends,
one hand sliding along the banister:
her with "two eyes full of poison." At long last,
Miss Caswell in the direction of Max F.,
© 2002 Electronic