ALL ABOUT EVE

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( April 30th, 1908 ~ November 12th, 1990 )

Wisecracking. One~liners. Devastating delivery. If you’re cynical, you might say she’s played the same part over and over again. To that I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, because over and over again, a girl’s best friend is EVE ARDEN.

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friends-blogathon-11-18-20-2016Entering Moon In Gemini’s “YOU GOTTA HAVE FRIENDS!” blogathon ( click the banner to read more entries on the nature of friendship in the movies ) Eve Arden’s name comes immediately to mind . She doesn’t have ‘Oomph’ or ‘It’ or play the bombshell. Men consider her a ‘pal.’ But I think she is sexy in her own right if you like the level~headed gal, who could drink her whisky straight and tell you like it is. There’s beauty in that. Besides, I think she IS pretty attractive. If you’re a woman, she’d be a valuable ‘consigliere’ to tell you what you need to hear, not want to hear. And while she’s pinched you if she has to with her tart tongue, she’ll bite the heads off those who try to hurt you. In movies she’s rarely in a relationship though in real life she had a husband and children. eve-arden-husband-kidsHer screen self basically travels alone, a self~sufficient, self~contained, self~aware single woman. She floats through society with the greatest of ease…unencumbered, pollinating quips, wisecracks and bon mots as she rolls along. Eve Arden made 99 movies between 1929 and 1987. Younger audiences might remember her as Principal McGee in Grease. If they were smart like the rest of us, they’d do well to explore Eve Arden in all her younger movie career glory.

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THE ARNELO AFFAIR ( 1947 ) [ Vivian ] 

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Vivian is good friends with Ann ( Frances Gifford ) who used to be an interior decorator and who’s now a wife with a son and husband who is a workaholic. Vivian’s there for moral support and a shoulder to lean on, on her way to her own boutique, with sage advice for Ann when the frances-gifford-arnelo-affairmore attentive and slickly handsome John Hodiak starts making a play for her and feeding her grapes. Eve’s clothes are wonderfully over the top…but it’s that same devastating delivery. And even over~the~top, Eves got the frame and statuesque figure to be a clothes horse like Kay Francis. << Sigh!  >> Has Edith Head ever dressed Arden?

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“You know Ann, just give me a plate of bacon and eggs, a full pocketbook, a chinchilla coat and a man and I’m happy. I’m such a simple girl.”

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THE UNFAITHFUL ( 1947 ) [ PAULA ]

Eve Arden shows who she is from the first. Her character throws a party for herself to announce she’s back on the market:

ARDEN: “The time has come to tell you why I gave this party. Come in closer. Six years ago I committed a crime against society. I married a man. Anyway I’ve taken my punishment and I was pardoned. Or was it paroled?”

Friend: “Divorced.”

ARDEN: “Don’t be crude. Now I want to pay a tribute to the man who made all this possible. Larry Hanniford. Larry take a bow. Am I embarassing you?”

Larry: “You are.”

ARDEN: “I’m so glad.”

Larry: “Besides, I only do the paperwork. The rest I leave to the ladies.”

ARDEN: “Don’t you believe it. This morning he stood in court and made a speech that belongs to History. In twenty minutes I was a free woman. I’m now again on the open market. Do I hear any bidders? My hair is my own. My teeth is my own. Well, practically everything is my own. Speak up Gentlemen.”

Husband ( enters ): “Go on! Tell ‘em! Tell ‘em all about it! Tell ‘em how wonderful you are. Then I’ll tell ‘em a few things.”

ARDEN: “Well the corpse at the post~mortem. What’s the matter, did I forget something when I packed your things? What do YOU want!”

Husband: “I wanna sock you right in the jaw.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is our introduction to the very caustic, newly~minted divorcee Paula in “The Unfaithful.” Arden plays Ann Sheridan’s cousin~in~law. And she’s rather a bitch.

There’s a good scene in the restaurant when Arden  and her harpy side-kicks ( Peggy Knudsen and Jane Harker ) come over to give their “condolences” to Sheridan for the trouble she’s in. All they really want  is to gossip and drop innuendoes. They’re pretty transparent about it.

Friend #1 [ to Sheridan ]: “…I must say you look awfully well considering what you’ve been through.”

ARDEN: “Really Joan.”

Friend #1: “Oh, I could bite my tongue in half.”

ARDEN: “You’d have plenty left.”

She feigns leaving but stays longer to get some more dirt about this scandal. But as the movie goes on, I have to say, when the chips are really down Arden comes through. Yes she chatters on…

ARDEN: “Chris! Darling you weren’t even listing to me.”

Sheridan: “Oh I’m sorry. Would you like some more coffee?”

ARDEN: “Oh Heavens no. I’m going to meet the crowd downtown and I want those cocktails to have plenty of room.”

But I do love her heartfelt change of heart when she deeply apologizes for her behavior…in her own ‘Eve Arden-ish’ way:

“Chris. I know you won’t believe this. I’m awfully sorry about all this. Too bad we were never friends. ‘Course I know you don’t approve of me. But I don’t approve of me either.”

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Arden has a good strong scene with Zachary Scott when she has to tell him some hard truths about himself. No irony, no snide~ness. Just straight talk. Eve Arden is wonderful in this scene and director Vincent Sherman lets her have all of it:

This film deals with adultery and its extenuating circumstances; It doesnt treat the wife like she’s at the Salem witch trials. I like this movie for many reasons. Eve Arden is one of them.

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MY DREAM IS YOURS” ( 1948 )  [ VIVIAN ]

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Eve co~stars with the new girl on the Warner Brothers lot: DORIS DAY in her second motion picture. Eve is on the behind~the~scene end of show biz when talent scout Doug Blake ( the affable Jack Carson ) brings this blonde bundle of energy to the West Coast to break in to that biz called show. He bulldozes Arden to take in Day as a roomie, and puts the bite on her to also take in Day’s little boy and overgrown dog:

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Doug: “Vi, isn’t he wonderful?”

ARDEN: “Yeah, cutest little lease-breaker I ever saw. Where’s his mother?

Doug: “She’s downstairs, she wasn’t sure how you’d take this.”

ARDEN: “Yeah I’ll bet.”

He even convinces her to pawn her favorite ( and only ) mink coat to loan him the cash to put Day over. Arden’s a pal alright. Or is she a patsy? She’s a good sport about it all, ultimately looking out for Doris like a big sister… with one eyebrow raised. Arden also plays Day’s friend in “Tea For Two” in this re~working of 1920’s No No Nanette.” It’s fun watching Arden spar with Billy De Wolfe.

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MY REPUTATION ( 1946 ) [ GINNA ] 

Barbara Stanwyck is a strong woman in the movies, right? Well not in this 1946 woman’s picture. And I use strong quotes not to put the movie down in that category the way it’s usually used. But for a story specific to women who may need to give themselves permission to live again…or be responsible only to herself. Or at least Her Self FIRST. Stanwyck suffers from “DMS” = the Domineering Mother Syndrome of “Now, Voyager.” This time Mother is played by Lucile Watson, as usually played by women who look like conjugal duties clearly were a duty. Now Stanwyck doesn’t quite have the breakdown our neurotic Charlotte Vale does, but she does melt down a bit.  Stany’s a widow, feeling some built up pressure from a nice steady vanilla friend of her husband’s, two growing boys and what her social set ( and Mother ) expect of her. She can’t take it. And who does she lean on? You guessed it…her best friend Ginna played by the object of my affection: Eve Arden. And you and I and Eve Arden knows exactly ‘what~she~needs.’ 

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Jessica [crying]: “I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I seem to be going to pieces!”

ARDEN: “It isn’t only the body that breaks down, Jess. The mind can go too, you know.”

Again Arden is the urbane friend, fancy apartment. Shoulder to lean on. But this time the script actually has her as married…to the ubiquitous John Ridgely. And she’s not the domineering wife either. He good~naturedly tolerates her but keeps her in check. Arden is quieter in this movie. She invites Stanwyck out to their ski lodge to spend a weekend. Fresh air and downhill skiing will take the ‘edge’ off of what ails you. ‘Meeting cute’ will take care of the rest.

It’s a cinch that Stanwyck can’t talk to the dames in her tony set. Arden is outside the she~wolf pack.

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ANATOMY OF A MURDER” ( 1958 ) [ MAIDA ]

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This is a great courtroom drama from Otto Preminger, starring James Stewart, George C. Scott, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara and Arthur O’Connell. Good cast, good story. Eve Arden plays Maida the office Secretary for James Stewart’s Paul Biegler. You can see she’s the chief cook and bottle washer for Stewart’s law office. She’s his quiet supportive cheerleader sitting in the courtroom. And quietly, good~naturedly admonishes him.

“If this refrigerator gets any more ish in it, it will swim upstream and spawn all by itself.”

~  OR ~

Paul:  “You’re fired.”

ARDEN: “You can’t fire me until you pay me.”

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Click here –> Anatomy of a Murder (1959) from Aitor Garcia on Vimeo.

She’s not harsh or brash. She downplays the brightness of her delivery.  She’s quieter. She doesnt have to punch these lines because we already know who she is. In my mind, I like to think of her Maida, and Jimmy Stewart’s Paul Biegler having a quiet drink in their office or at the local inn listening to jazz after a trying day in court.

…And then having some quiet comfort together back in her apartment. She’s a pal. She’s a woman. She’s in your corner. She’s a friend.

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STAGEDOOR ( 1937 ) [ EVE ]

In a sea of beautiful girls with quick quips and wisecracks, Eve Arden stands out with her cat, her champagne voice and the effortlessness of skill.

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A pleasant little foursome. I predict a hatchet murder before the night’s over.

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And of course…

MILDRED PIERCE”  ( 1945 ) [ IDA ] 

eve-arden-xxviiiThis is the creme de la creme of friendship with this film. ( Arden works again with Crawford in 1950Goodbye My Fancy” ). Eve plays Ida, the first person to give Joan Crawford’s Mildred Pierce a job as a waitress. She shows her the ropes and guides her. When Mildred branches out with her own franchises, who’s right there helping manage her businesses? And who’s there to advocate for the waitresses when she has to tell Mildred Veda is borrowing money from them? Ida sees Monty Beragon for the  heel he is before Mildred…is ready to admit it. Ida drops some lovely words of contempt on Monty for good measure. And she has a wonderful retort for Wally’s admiring ogle. I present IDA:

  • “Leave something on me. I might catch cold.”
  • “When men get around me, they get allergic to wedding rings.”

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  • Monty: “Oh I wish I could get that interested in work.”
    ARDEN: “You were probably frightened by a callus at an early age.”
  • “Oh men. I never yet met one of them that didn’t have the instincts of a heel. Sometimes I wish I could get along without them.”
  • ARDEN: “Laughing boy seems slightly burned at the edges. What’s eating him?”
    Mildred: “A small green~eyed monster.”
    ARDEN: “Jealous? That doesn’t sound like Wally. No profit in it ~ and there’s a boy who loves a dollar.”
  • “Personally Veda’s convinced me that alligators have the right idea. They eat their young.”

       

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G
ee…a great collection of the 1940’s right here in “THE DOUGHGIRLS.”

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She floats above the fray of everyday heartache. She’s smart. She’s a business woman. She’s wise. In most of her appearances she’s not the bombshell who gets home and hearth. It’s not that she doesn’t want it. What does Ida say in “Mildred Pierce” that when men get around her they see her as a pal. Well I for one would be glad to have her as a pal. I’ve said it before and I say it, Eve Arden is the best friend a girl could have.
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D’ya want to read about some other great friendships in classic film? Well just click on Bob & Bing and read many more entries. And if you want to read a more in~depth view of Arden’s performance as Ida in “Mildred Pierce” read the blog post at Once Upon A Screen. Thank you Debra for hosting and sharing this great idea for a blogathon. Hmmmm…think I’d better call my best friend now.

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16 thoughts on “ALL ABOUT EVE

  1. Eve is thought of as an unattractive nuisance to men in Mildred pierce. What?? What a mentality male writers had in those days. A tall sexy voluptuous and clever gal like her ignored? Please.
    Great article, Tex.

    Rob

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya Rob!! I don’t know what comes first…the chicken or the egg. Do writers give the stamp of approval on what is attractive, and the public follows or does the public annoint beauty and Hollywood follows. I’m with you in thinking that Eve Arden is attractive and sexy…and smart. ( Guess that makes me smart too. ) As always, I appreciate you stopping by. 🙂

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    • Hey there MovieBlogx2…I’m with you (and Rob ) in the Eve Arden~sexy camp. I find her confidence and air very empowering. And I think the men who appreciate her way cuts above the Average Joe. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  2. Pingback: You Gotta Have Friends Blogathon – Day 1 Recap – MOON IN GEMINI

  3. You’ve touched on one of my favorite movies here: My Dream Is Yours. Eve Arden adds quite a bit to this film that already has a lot going for it. She’s smart and sassy, quick with a quip but with a lot of heart. Add to that the gorgeous technicolor, the soft beauty of Doris Day, gorgeous set design and costumes, and the teddy bear charm of Jack Carson and you’ve got quite an entertaining movie. Don’t even get me started on the songs 🙂
    Eve gets her man at the end too, a nice touch, even if it is only Adolphe Menjou!

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  4. Pingback: Announcing the “You Gotta Have Friends” Blogathon! – MOON IN GEMINI

  5. Great and entertaining article! I agree with everything you said, and I also think there’s something attractive about Eve Arden! I actually saw more of her movies than I would have thought I didn’t remember she was in Grease and My Reputation!
    I also love her in Tea for Two, another one with Doris Day.

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  6. Thank you so much for this terrific overview of Eve Arden’s career as the best friend in so many great movies! There are a few here that I haven’t seen yet and now I want to as soon as possible.

    Hands down, my favorite quote by an Eve Arden character is the one about alligators eating their young. 🙂

    Thanks again for contributing to the blogathon!

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    • Ahhhhh the hostess with the mostess. Thank you so much Debbie. Oh I love Eve Arden so much, and her moments in “Mildred Pierce” add a touch of levity in a sea of noir. This really is a great idea for a blogathon. Hell, half the battle of doing a blogathon is having a good idea people want to jump on. You have it with this. Thanxx!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Isn’t she great in Mildred Pierce? She is the BFF every woman needs!
    Now, I must watch The Unfaithful! Her opening speech is wonderful, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the film develops.
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! 🙂
    Kisses!
    Le

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    • Le, Eve was certainly great in “Mildred Pierce.” She was a pistol from her first moment on screen in “The Unfaithful.” I hope you see the whole movie. It really does make an adult statement on war~time marriages. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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  8. OOOOOOO I LOVE Eve Arden so much!!!!! And yay I seen all the films of hers you’re looking at! The best friend a star actress ever had she was wonderfully clear-eyed about her proper place in the film hierarchy responding when she learned she had been nominated for Mildred Pierce “Oh that will spoil everything!”

    The Arnelo Affair is middling but those outfits of hers are certainly a boost to it. It is probably the most representative of the majority of her films despite being a highly esteemed performer. Mediocre stuff that she was cast in especially to add her special brand of zip to perk them up. But then that was the studio system and if there was higher quality material available she got first dibs at it in the supporting actress arena.

    I like The Unfaithful but it’s a weak sister compared to its origin source The Letter. Ann Sheridan does well in the softened Davis role and it’s interesting to see Zachary Scott as the good guy for a change but the sense of intrigue and dread is gone from the material. But Eve rocks it as Paula, a flighty budinski but good deep down. The snippets you highlight are terrific but the bit of dialogue that stuck with me was when she was talking about one of her equally bitchy friends “Isn’t that Joan stupid? Poor dear, she’s just not smart enough to be an idiot. Don’t bother to show me out. I know the way. I always look for the exits in case of a raid.”

    My Dream is Yours is one of my comfort movies, along with Woman’s World. I can slip them in anytime I’m blue and it’s like wrapping myself in a warm fuzzy blanket I feel better instantly. Eve looks amazing in Technicolor and is sharp as a tack. The Day/Carson/Bugs Bunny dream number is like some sort of fever dream! I find it so funny that this was the film that inspired Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

    My Reputation is somewhat of a break for everyone from their usual roles which makes it a bit of a standout. It was Stanwyck’s favorite of all her films, probably because of just that difference. It not one that I LOVE but I do like it a great deal. If I remember correctly, it’s been a while, Eve and Ridgley have quite an extended scene in bed, they were only having a conversation but even that for the time was unusual.

    Anatomy of a Murder is a wonderful film where all the pieces fit together so well and Eve’s playing is modulated down to match the groove of all the characters she interacts with. And the judge is priceless!

    All the actresses in Stage Door are interesting but watching now those with that special something that lasts pop out. Andrea Leeds was the big hit of the film at the time beside Hepburn and Rogers and while she does well she doesn’t linger after the film ends the way Eve, Lucy and Ann Miller do.

    What more is there to say about Mildred Pierce? She’s brilliant and has great chemistry with everyone she interacts with. Glad you made note of Goodbye, My Fancy. I adore that film, such an anomaly in Crawford’s latter filmography-she stepped in at the last minute when Rosalind Russell who it had been tailored for had to bow out, she manages rather well and Eve is a priceless assist along with my beloved Lureen Tuttle.

    And The Doughgirls!!!! Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith and Jane Wyman are working at top speed (I particularly enjoy Wyman who makes the borderline idiot Vivian, sweet and endearing rather than annoying or irritating as a less talented actress might). I love that no matter what time it is in the movie day or night or their economic situation (and from the way they talk they’re all up against it) they are dressed to the nines and dripping in eye popping jewelry as befits stars of the period. As enjoyable as they all are they don’t stand a chance when Eve swoops in as a Russian commando and steals her scenes without breaking a sweat. I think it’s one of her best performances, totally uninhibited and manic while perfectly controlled.

    She was never considered a glamour girl which is its own thing but she was almost always beautifully dressed, well put together and the hats! In her autobiography I found out that she made a great many of those, her mother was a milliner who taught her the trade and she put it to use.

    She’s one of the actress whose entire filmographies I’m endeavoring to see but she worked everywhere so she tough. I still have about 15 left to hunt down (Curtain Call at Cactus Creek is my #1 most wanted) but one of the more obscure that I did manage to track down is Song of Scheherazade which is a ripe piece of twaddle while still being shamefully entertaining. Eve plays Yvonne de Carlo’s mother (!!) and both are swaddled in filmy multi colored scarves and outlandish outfits.

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    • I didn’t think “The Arnelo Affair” was middling and the slant to the story of “The Unfaithful” is different than what Bette’s film is about, but movie as comfort food is my total deal, Joel. I enjoyed your comments. You write well. Do you have your own blog? If you don’t…you ought to. Thanks again.

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