The Three Faces of Eve (Blu-ray)
20th Century Fox / 1957 / 91 mins / NR
When psychiatrists Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley published their novel "The Three Faces of Eve" in 1957, the film rights were immediately scooped up by 20th Century Fox and writer/director Nunnally Johnson. The concept of multiple personalities was a brand new idea and the one-two punch of Shirley Jackson's 1954 novel "The Birds' Nest" (which was made into the film LIZZIE, also in 1957) and Thigpen and Cleckley's real life case firmly put the concept into the public's imagination. While it may have appeared at the time that the film THE THREE FACES OF EVE was just jumping on the multiple personalities bandwagon, time has shown it to be not only an explosive introduction for the then relatively unknown actress Joanne Woodward, but a timeless movie that continues to intrigue decades later.
Writer/Director Johnson (who also produced this film) continually reinforces the real life basis of the story of Eve White (Woodward). Alistair Cooke introduces the movie reassuring us that the events and even major chunks of dialogue are taken straight from Thigpen and Cleckley's case. He also returns as narrator throughout the story, again reinforcing the "this is NOT fiction" aspect. We meet the extremely timid Eve White when her husband Ralph (David Wayne) returns home to find hundreds of dollars of sexy dresses and shoes on their bed. When confronted with the extravagant and inappropriate purchase, Eve says she thought Ralph bought them as an odd present for her. As Ralph boxes the items up to return them, he is interrupted by his young daughter, Bonnie (Terry Ann Ross), screaming. He runs out to the living room to find his meek little wife strangling her. Eve is taken to see Doctor Luther (Lee J. Cobb) where we learn that she has been suffering from headaches and blackouts for years. During their conversation, Eve... changes. No longer the mousy little housewife, she becomes the ribald, flirtatious and boisterous Eve Black, who is not married or a mother but is aware of everything Eve White does. Thus begins Dr. Luther's journey of exploration and trying to find out exactly what is going on with Eve White and Eve Black and later Jane...
Judy Garland originally wanted the role of Eve but Johnson wisely went with Woodward who is stunning, commanding your attention whenever she is on screen (which is pretty much every scene). Woodward was primarily a television actress appearing as a guest star in numerous productions before landing the role of Eve. She would win an Academy Award for THE THREE FACES OF EVE, launching a long and very successful career that continues to this day. Her transformations between the three personalities should be required study material for anyone interested in the acting profession. Without make-up changes, without Jekyll and Hyde special effects, Woodward literally transforms before our eyes into the different personalities just with body language, vocal inflection, facial expression and amazing use of her eyes. Her changes are not over-the-top comedic changes, but subtle and all encompassing. There is no mistaking whether you are talking to Eve White, Eve Black or Jane even though there are scenes when Woodward changes repeatedly within seconds. THE THREE FACES OF EVE may have a few dated references and moments, but Woodward's performance will be just as amazing in 50 years as it was 50 years ago.
20th Century Fox has delivered THE THREE FACES OF EVE in a magnificent looking anamorphic 2.35 transfer. In keeping with the "ripped from the headlines" tone of the movie Johnson keeps the black and white picture on the plain side, but cinematographer Stanley Cortez beautifully lights it with subtle but very effective effects. The source material is in impeccable condition with a fine layer of film grain evident.
The DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack is likewise in excellent condition. This is mostly a quiet and dialogue driven film but Robert Emmett Dolan's score is used very dramatically in key moments, which comes through quite strongly in this mix.
The supplements kick off with a commentary track by film historian Aubrey Solomon. While there is a wealth of interesting information to be found here, be prepared for lengthy stretches of silence as well.
"Fox Movietone News: Academy Awards" highlights Woodward's win and adorable acceptance speech.
The original theatrical trailer rounds out the goodies.
THE THREE FACES OF EVE needs to be one of the first films an acting student studies to learn the craft. 20th Century Fox has brought the film to blu-ray in a magnificent transfer. Highly Recommended!