All About Eve, Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
20th Century Fox, October 13, 1950 (US)
Screenplay: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, and Celeste Holm
Adam Covetington woke to days with an urgent sense that he would kill someone before his own inevitable death. In Martin Chaser, his boss at Chaser Pulp Corp., a mid-sized paper manufacturer lost between porn studios and nondescript auto body shops in the San Fernando Valley, Adam found a victim.
The two men first met in Martin’s office on the late August afternoon Adam interviewed for a sales rep position. A recent graduate at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, Adam looked great on paper, and no one considered resume stock more closely than management at Chaser. Parchment defined their business. Martin could not be faulted for personally selecting the exquisite 32 lb., 100% cotton, antique ivory and watermarked sheet with Adam’s full name printed at the top from the stack of nine submissions.
When Adam’s enthusiasm ignited the room in person, Martin offered the job on-the-spot. The kid possessed a winning combination of brains and all-American good looks (women at the factory cooed that he should star in a soap opera), guaranteeing to take him places. Moving from Pittsburgh to L.A. marked a start, and, given the right opportunity, Adam’s career path burned with immeasurable potential. He had ambition. He was driven—an achiever. Martin additionally warmed to the charm of a boy, who still toted a weathered cardinal backpack with the name of his alma mater stitched across. The sight flashed Martin back to nearly forgotten personal years of study at Cal, brimming with youthful team spirit, idealism and a never-ending supply of lithesome blondes.
Through the smoke of Adam’s blaze, however, Martin failed to detect the impulsive nature of Adam’s move west or his ulterior motive to break into the film business, utilizing Chaser as a stepping stone. The classified ad to which Adam responded wound up in The Hollywood Reporter, in part, because the company had accounts with the major film studios—all of whom purchased paper from the warehouse to print the scripts that Adam envisioned writing; Adam believed the simplest tie would grant access to the people who mattered. He did not grasp the flimsy nature of the union between Chaser and himself because the link held a greater bond than any intimate relationship he had ever known. Adam placed aspiration before deliberation. Passions clouded sunny Hollywood dreams.
So it was that Adam equated Chaser as a means to an end, until he came to despise himself and the world around for being an inescapable trap.
Entrées slammed shut; the temporary became endless; and whereas Martin started the friend, his face ended that of the enemy. Adam projected every negative aspect of his unsuccessful predicament onto the corporate front man, whom he resented for not opening doors, including those hinged far away from the framework of Chaser. Adam ceased functioning rationally amidst an environment deemed a denier to the distinctions he deserved and also regarded Martin’s aroused mid-life insecurities with disgust, cringing during conversations with the pathetic man in decline, for the moment of the smarter, younger and more giving player had arrived, even though the understudy competed for an immaterial award.
Uncontrollable desires to snuff Martin’s charred remains, an obstacle to any hope Adam had for containment, were an alarm unheard. Around the office, Adam’s infectious grin widened with no indication of its deeper underpinnings. Adam had snapped.
Choosing to use a knife took zero meditation. Adam appreciated the notion of holding onto a blade and feeling it sink into obtrusive, useless flesh. He stowed the weapon in his backpack and entered the office with the greatest purpose of his life.
Martin had no idea the morning of his murder that the end waited at bay. Someone superstitious may have taken the broken seatbelt on his black Mercedes as a bad omen, but Martin trudged forward and even considered the possibility of increasing the responsibilities of his star hire. Random thoughts such as this accompanied the entirety of the drive, which passed with nary a bump.
Sergeant Addison and a team of police arrived to a familiar scene: bloody footprints, trails of red and spatter covering linoleum tiled floors. A lifeless body—Martin—lay facedown slumped on the ground in a pool of crimson with a knife stuck in its back.
Gun drawn, the Sergeant scaled the threateningly empty halls of Chaser for a mid-week morning. Through a glass window looking into one of the back offices, he saw a figure—Adam—slumped over a desk, bloodied hands clasped over the nape of his neck.
“Freeze!” exclaimed Sergeant Addison. “Don’t move! Raise your hands! Now!”
The body was still. Then, slowly two blood soaked hands lifted to the ceiling fluorescent lights.
Sergeant Addison and police backup swarmed the office and cuffed Adam, who stared vacantly off to the corner of the room. Someone started to read Adam his Miranda Rights. Addison took another quick scan of the surroundings and locked on Adam’s frozen gaze, which lead to a cardinal backpack tossed aside. Sergeant Addison slipped on a pair rubber gloves.
“What’s in the bag?” the sergeant inquired.
Adam sat silent.
Sergeant Addison cautiously walked over to the backpack. He found the main compartment open. With a pen, Addison parted the canvas flap and shifted his head to angle a better view.
“Looks like there’s some movie in here, kid. A DVD. All About Eve. This yours?” Sergeant Addison probed.
Adam breathed deep, hollow breaths but did not answer.
“What in the hell happened here?” Sergeant Addison quizzed, almost to himself.
The flash of a camera photographing the butchery in the hallway jolted the stillness. An official investigation was underway, and the 1950’s Bette Davis motion picture classic got booked into evidence.