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This is one of the finest movies of Joanne Woodward in which she performs the role of a housewife torn between three contrasting personalities; Eve White, Eve Black and Jane. This is a real life story about multiple personality disorder suffered by Chris Costner Sizemore of South Carolina, and diagnosed by Drs. Corbett H. Thigpen, and Hervey M. Cleckley. This story was brilliantly adapted for the screen by the work of Nunnally Johnson, who also wrote for such classics as: How to Marry a Millionaire, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, and We're not Married.
Woodward plays the role of socially repressed Eve White, a housewife and mother of a daughter, Bonnie White (Terry Ann Ross). The second personality is the oversexed Eve Black, clad in sexy bras, and short skirts, drinking, smoking, and always ready for fun at the local bar; and the third person called Jane who is relatively normal. The viewers see a metamorphosis in Eve White who changes from perfect housewife to a downright difficult lady. The real drama unfolds in the offices of Dr. Curtis Luther (Lee Cobb) who methodically investigates the psychological disorder of his patient and comes to the conclusion that Eve suffers from the split personalities of three contrasting women. There is a great deal of drama when the viewers see Eve strangling her only daughter when she "appears" as Eve Black (Eve Black considers that is not her child). The constant fights and domestic problems with her husband Ralph White (David Wayne), and his visits to see her at the psychiatric hospital are very moving. When she is resident of the state facility for mentally disturbed, we find more of the irresponsible and selfish nature of Eve Black who hangs out in the bars, picks men and finally disappoints them, no matter how much it hurts them. In almost all instances we see the appearance of conservative Eve White after Eve black transforms herself; that is, when she sobers of and tries to understand what has happened, and feel embarrassed that she is sitting in the bar in skimpy clothes.
There is an interesting history behind casting. When director Nunnally Johnson's tried to cast actress Jennifer Jones for the leading role; she confessed being terrified of the part. June Allyson simply refused to play, and Judy Garland at first agreed to take part in the movie, but when saw the actual films of Chris Sizemore undergoing psychotherapy, and transformation to split personalities, she got scared. Joanne Woodward read the script on the train from New York to Los Angeles and confessed that she was so afraid of the role she almost returned to New York. Johnson wanted to have Sizemore interviewed for the movie, but her psychiatrists said that she was not ready for the experience. Sizemore continued to manifest new personalities after her supposed cure, up to 22 personalities in all, until 1970s. She did not see the film until 1974, and she found it moving and praised the performance of Joanne Woodward.
There are many situations that are close to the real story. Just as Chris Sizemore had displayed in her therapy, Woodward used a Southern accent for the two Eves and dropped this accent when she became Jane. One change Johnson suggested was making the transformations slowly than Sizemore had actually experienced in the real life. During therapy, Sizemore switched personalities fairly quickly, but the director felt that would not be believable to a movie audience unfamiliar with multiple personality disorder. Each event is chronicled accurately, and as the years in which it all took place pass, viewers see personalities appear and disappear, and transform to one another. One thing that is overlooked over the years in many reviews is the brilliant portrayal of Dr. Luther by Lee Cobb, who has offered brilliant performance and strongly complements the fine work of Woodward.
The Chris Costner Sizemore Papers span the time period 1952-1989, with the bulk of the papers dating between 1956 and 1979. These are currently available at the Duke University library (Duke.edu). The collection consists largely of correspondence; diaries and writings by Sizemore; clippings centered on film and book promotions and speaking engagements. The papers provide an in-depth look into the life of a woman with a rare disorder who later came to clearly articulate her life to the public.Read more ›
The Three Faces of Eve is directed by Nunally Johnson who also adapts the screenplay from a book written by Corbett Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley. It stars Joanne Woodward, Lee J. Cobb, David Wayne and Edwin Jerome. A CinemaScope production, music is by Robert Emmett Dolan and cinematography by Stanley Cortez.
Doctor Curtis Luther (Cobb) treats Eve White (Woodward) for Multiple Personality Disorder...
Christine, Strawberry Girl.
It has become one of those films that is stuck in some sort of Hollywood purgatory. Its impact back on release in 1957, where Hollywood was still struggling to come to terms with putting mental illness on celluloid, should not be understated, and it's that time frame where one might have to transport yourself to get the benefits of the production.
Looking at it today, it is rife with simplistic ideals, where it often feels like Hollywood believes there is this magical cure for mental illness, a world where some amiable doctor can chat the chat, snap his fingers and bang! What joy, it's all good really, and sorry we played some of the film for laughs...
The reason why it is in Hollywood no man's land is because in spite of the near crassness of the piece, it still stands up as a film of importance, a picture that brought out the topic at hand into the mainstream. As an interim movie in the trajectory of big screen forays into matters of the mind, it advanced awareness and built a bridge that the likes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Girl Interrupted would later traverse with some distinction.
It also boasts a brilliant Oscar winning performance from Woodward, a real tour de force that engages the viewer emotionally to the point where sadness, anger, hope and understanding merge into one blurry cinematic achievement. Though away from "Eve's" interactions with Doctor Luther (Cobb perfectly restrained for a change), the rest of the film kind of feels like filler, Johnson not quite comfortable enough as a director to expand the dramatic thematics out of the Doc's office.
Based on the real life case of Chris Costner Sizemore, the story only scratches the surface of what the poor lady went through. The psychiatric resolution here on film is very disappointing, this even if there's undoubtedly some exhilaration to be had as cinema Eve comes through the dark tunnel to find daylight. So in that respect, it's another blot on Nunally Johnson's landscape. But again, it put the case in the public conscious, where even today it should at least make people consider reading up on the real "Eve's" story.
Uneven for sure, where rewards and annoyances await, but Woodward and the film's mark in subject matter history lift it way above average. 7.5/10Read more ›
The Three Faces of Eve [Blu-ray]  [US Import] Joanne Woodward brought home a Best Actress OSCAR ® for her unforgettable portrayal of a woman with multiple personality disorder. Woodward plays Eve White, a troubled housewife who begins seeing a psychiatrist. Under hypnosis, Eve's two additional personalities are revealed: a vamp and an independent sophisticate - but curing her will require a probe into her disturbing past.
FILM FACT: The film is based on the real-life story of a South Caroline woman who ultimately manifested 22 different personalities over here lifetime.
Cast: Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, Lee J. Cobb, Nancy Kulp, Douglas Spencer, Ken Scott and Mimi Gibson
Director: Nunnally Johnson
Producer: Nunnally Johnson
Writer: Nunnally Johnson
Composer: Robert Emmett Dolan
Cinematography: Stanley Cortez
Resolution: 1080p Black and White
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English: 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono and Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Running Time: 92 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Andrew's Blu-ray Review - Eve White is a quiet, mousy, unassuming wife and mother who keeps suffering from headaches and occasional black outs. Eventually she is sent to see psychiatrist Dr. Luther, and, while under hypnosis, a whole new personality emerges: the racy, wild, fun-loving Eve Black. Under continued therapy, yet a third personality appears, the relatively stable Jane. This film, based on the true-life case of a multiple personality, chronicles Dr. Luther's attempts to reconcile the three faces of Eve.
It was in 1957 that The Three Faces of Eve first offered a fascinating glimpse into a trifurcated mind that some audience members at the time probably thought was pure hogwash. Eve's story was in fact based in reality, and the film tries to take an almost clinical approach to the subject matter, replete with a patrician narrator [Alistair Cooke] and dialogue which is at least partially culled from the actual case files of the real life Eve. That said, The Three Faces of Eve was still met with a certain amount of critical scepticism when it was first released, though Joanne Woodward's career defining performance met with almost universal acclaim, and Joanne Woodward, who was then a largely unknown starlet, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, beating icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner and Deborah Kerr in the process. Nunnally Johnson, the journeyman writer-producer-director who was responsible in one way or another for some very fine dramatic films but who had at that point become perhaps more associated with such Fox films as How to Marry a Millionaire re-established his dramatic mettle with this film, at least with regard to Joanne Woodward's still viscerally compelling performance.
Nunnally Johnson invests The Three Faces of Eve with the imprimatur of authenticity right off the bat by having Alistair Cooke appear in a brief prologue where he assures the viewer that everything that's about to be depicted is true. Alistair Cooke returns throughout the film as a narrator, subtly reinforcing the idea that this is in its own way a documentary. Nunnally Johnson also stages the film with a minimum of fuss and bother, furthering the ambience of a "ripped from the headlines" affair (something that may even have been implied by Johnson's decision to film in black and white, in those days still the preferred technique for gritty realism, as opposed to splashy Technicolor fantasies).
We meet Eve White [Joanne Woodward] and her husband Ralph (David Wayne) as they consult Doctor Luther [Lee J. Cobb] about some troubling symptoms Eve has been suffering. Not only is Eve experiencing debilitating headaches, she's also been indulging in peculiar behaviours, including spending hundreds of dollars on clothes that Ralph deems inappropriate for his frankly dowdy wife. In one of the film's most startling scenes (which Johnson stages almost completely out of the frame) Eve attempts to strangle her daughter Bonnie with the cord from a Venetian blind. It's a chilling moment, and the sign that something is desperately wrong with this seemingly meek little woman.
The film has been faulted for the sheer theatricality of Woodward's performance at times, but as commentator Aubrey Solomon makes clear, most of Woodward's lightning fast transitions were culled from her viewings of actual films of the real life Eve, who underwent similarly seamless transitions from personality to personality. While the film is really not overly dramatic in an in your face kind of way, Joanne Woodward's amazing performance elevates The Three Faces of Eve to a unique place in the annals of films about mental illness. Sometimes with barely a change in her expression or posture she is able to make completely clear which character is in control of Eve. All three faces are undeniably compelling and are brought to life in a brilliant way that only Joanne Woodward was ideal for this unique tour-de-force performance and deserved the Best Actress OSCAR ® Award.
Video Quality - The Three Faces of Eve is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with an encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. This is another stellar looking transfer of a Fox catalogue CinemaScope feature, sourced from elements that were either pristine to begin with or have been immaculately restored, especially with Stanley Cortez's beautifully shaded cinematography gives the film an unusually lustrous look, something that comes through quite clearly on this Blu-ray disc and Stanley Cortez lights scenes carefully, sometimes leaving Woodward's face left in just partial shadows. Blacks are solid and consistent and grey scale is very accurately reproduced. While early CinemaScope offerings tended to be pretty grainy looking at times, by 1957 things had considerably changed. The Three Faces of Eve has a very fine layer of grain which floats quite naturally throughout the frame -- it isn't overwhelming, but it's quite noticeable, especially when backgrounds are lighter. A couple of passing shots are just minimally softer than the bulk of the film (two of them are the establishing shots of the hospital where Eve is kept, probably done by a second unit), but otherwise this is a really gorgeous looking high definition presentation.
Audio Quality - The Three Faces of Eve features a 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix which suffices perfectly well for this dialogue driven film. The film actually has some nice musical elements courtesy of Robert Emmett Dolan, and those are reproduced accurately as well. The film doesn't have much in the way of dynamic range, but the track is damage free and reproduces the modest ambitions of the film's original sound design quite well.
Special Features and Extras:
Commentary by Film Historian Aubrey Solomon: Solomon wrote The Films of 20th Century Fox and provides a really nicely detailed commentary, albeit in somewhat sporadic style (there are long moments of silence scattered throughout the film). He gets into some of the interesting background (Judy Garland wanted the lead role) as well as salient information about the source material.
Fox Movietone News: Academy Awards (2:22) shows Woodward picking up her statuette.
Theatrical Trailer (2:44) features a rare on camera appearance by Nunnally Johnson.
Finally, The Three Faces of Eve is one of the quieter films about mental illness, but due to Woodward's commanding performance(s), it's an often fascinating experience. Some of the film seems slightly dated by modern day standards, but when Woodward's on the screen (which is most of the time), minor qualms drift away into nothingness, like a neurosis disappearing after years of analysis. This is another great looking and sounding Fox catalogue release, and it comes Highly Recommended. As a sort of Post Script to my above review, is that I have longed to own this brilliant classic film and I am glad I never owned it on a NTSC [inferior quality] DVD and so pleased I waited until it was finally brought out on this superior Blu-ray format, because as I say above [sic] this is a really gorgeous looking high definition presentation and a total honour to add this to my ever increasing brilliant Blu-ray Collection. Enjoy.
Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan Le Cinema Paradiso WARE, United KingdomRead more ›