Celeste Holm passed away on Sunday, and if the name doesn’t ring a bell, then watch All About Eve immediately. In a film ridiculously full of amazing performances, Celeste Holm radiates warmth and intelligence as Bette Davis’ friend Karen. Holm is always observing, listening, subtly reacting to those around her. Karen’s transition from affection to skepticism in regards to Eve Harrington is especially compelling because Karen is Eve’s first mark, the one who initially brings Eve into their circle. Holm conveys Karen’s initial reluctance to distrust Eve, the sense of betrayal, and finally, a sort of detached amusement at Eve’s machinations. Especially poignant is Karen’s almost indulgent awareness of her husband’s infidelity with Eve. She sees it coming, but she doesn’t try to stop it. While we may not agree with Karen’s decision, Holm manages to portray it as the mature, confident choice, the choice of a woman who’s smarter than her husband and knows he’ll come back to her once he realizes his mistake. Only Celeste Holm could pull off that combination of superiority and pragmatism with such grace and humor.
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