The Three Faces of Eve

Joanne Woodward changes from virgin to slut, literally in the blink of an eye. Oh, yeah, Oscar LOVES this stuff!
Our Rating

Genre(s): Drama

Director: Nunnally Johnson

Actors: Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, Lee J. Cobb

Year: 1957

MPAA Rating: NR

Country: USA

You know those days that you blow a bunch of money shopping for fancy clothes, then get busted trying to strangle your own kid? Well, neither does Eve White (Joanne Woodward), who is brought to a psychiatrist by her husband. Eve White is a painfully shy, polite Southern lady, and her kind of dumb-bunny husband (David Wayne) is at wit’s end about her strange blackouts. Turns out Eve has been slipping into a completely different personality, one bolder, brasher, and a whole lot sexier. This other face of Eve is named Eve Black. Eve White is completely confused about what is going on, but Eve Black totally has her number…

The psychiatrist (Lee J. Cobb) is absolutely fascinated with Eve’s rare multiple personality disorder (Eve’s case is actually based on a true story). He soon learns to summon Eve Black simply by asking, and there is no doubt that Joanne Woodward won her Oscar for making us believe that she is two (and later three) completely different women. In a way, it is kind of like a cornball Actor’s Studio… Look innocent and confused! Now, slutty and vampy! Now innocent! Slutty! Innocent! But it sure must be great fun for an actor.

The tone of The Three Faces of Eve is very careful, almost clinical in a Very Special Episode kind of way. The film (which plays a bit like a re-enactment of mostly interviews) is solemnly introduced by a very young Alistair Cooke (!), with occasional narration slipping in to let us know what is going on. There is nothing subtle about Good Eve vs. Bad Eve (and later Perfectly Nice Jane) in the way that she is portrayed by Woodward. Eve Black goes out on the town to a bar, seduces a soldier with an awkward sexy dance routine (complete with enthusiastic hand claps) only to face plant on the bar in confusion. Eve White, on the other hand, looks like a frightened woodland creature, and clutches her the neckline of her hospital robe modestly. Jane, the third personality, is almost a relief, as she is most subtle (and most smart). Team Jane, all the way! If only it were so easy…


An audio commentary by film historian Aubrey Solomon explains that much of what comes across as abrupt in Eve’s personality transitions is actually true to the case (as there was film of the original sessions). Also, the director originally wanted Judy Garland for the role, but settled on Woodward, known at the time mainly for TV. Too bad for Eve, her case didn’t wrap up as easily as in the film. Extras also include footage of Woodward winning the Best Actress Oscar, and a very serious behind-the-scenes original trailer for the film.


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