Joanne Woodward won a Best Actress Oscar, a Best Actress Golden Globe Award, and a Best Actress National Board of Review Award for “Three Faces Of Eve.”
Though Fox's message pictures were more prominently produced during the Forties, the era of CinemaScope gave the genre some new gloss, like Nicholas Ray's drug abuse sudser, "Bigger Than Life." On its own, "The Three Faces of Eve" earned Oscar attention for Joanne Woodward's exceptional performances as Eve White (married, with daughter), Eve Black (loose, abusive, and a tease), and Jane - the latter being the closest personality to the real Eve, which emerged after the other two eventually disappeared.
Adapted from the best-selling book by Eve's doctors, head-shrinkers Corbett Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley, esteemed screenwriter Nunnally Johnson also had access to the session notes and conversations between Eve's doctors and, more astonishingly, film footage of Eve slipping in and out of her personalities. Delivering a rough cut of 121 minutes, director Johnson whittled away redundant scenes and material that wouldn't bristle the censors - namely the Catholic Legion of Decency - and in its brief form, the film remains an efficiently paced drama with Woodward delivering three marvelously nuanced performances.
Film historian Aubrey Solomon returns for a commentary track, and he's less spotty than previous efforts, though silent gaps can run for several minutes. Solomon is more balanced here, offering a lot of background material on Johnson's late-blooming career as director, early casting choices (initially preferring Judy Garland and Orson Welles as Eve and her primary doctor, respectively), deleted scenes, and Woodward's move from TV actress to her first major starring role. Solomon also presents extracts from studio memos to illustrate Johnson's post-Zanuck years, after Fox's main production chief left the studio to become an indie, and the writer-director had to develop his own sense of pacing after relying for years on Zanuck's savvy judgement.
As a director, Johnson's career was pretty uneven, and the first section of "Eve" has some very awkward scenes in the doctor's office. Solomon quotes Johnson's own awareness of his workmanlike direction, and with "Eve," Johnson had a particularly novel problem: though he photographed Orson Welles' "Magnificent Ambersons," cinematographer Stanley Cortez had never shot in CinemaScope before, and the result is a film with a few moody, shadow-layered sequences, offset by static wide shots that recall the first 'scope films, with side objects acting as obvious filler for the unused areas of the wide frame.
Fox's print is very lovely, boasting sharp details and excellent gray levels, and Robert Emmett Dolan's score is well balanced in the original mono mix. (A subtle pseudo-stereo mix is also included).
Solomon closes the film with some good material on the real Eve, and separates the simplified finale of the movie - Eve finds wellness and lives a normal life - with the trauma that recurred throughout her life until 1975. Cured from another wave of personalities, Eve eventually emerged as an author, and wrote several books chronicling her disorder.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan