An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.
Margo Channing: Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!
Margo Channing: Bill's thirty-two. He looks thirty-two. He looked it five years ago, he'll look it twenty years from now. I hate men.
Margo Channing: Funny business, a woman's career - the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you'll need them again when you get back to being a woman. That's one career all females have in common, whether we like it or not: being a woman. Sooner or later, we've got to work at it, no matter how many other careers we've had or wanted. And in the last analysis, nothing's any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed, and there he is. Without that, you're not a woman. You're something with a French provincial office or a book full of clippings, but you're not a woman. Slow curtain, the end.
Addison DeWitt: What do you take me for? Eve Harrington: I don't know that I'd take you for anything. Addison DeWitt: Is it possible, even conceivable, that you've confused me with that gang of backward children you play tricks on, that you have the same contempt for me as you have for them? Eve Harrington: I'm sure you mean something by that, Addison, but I don't know what? Addison DeWitt: Look closely, Eve. It's time you did. I am Addison DeWitt. I am nobody's fool, least of all yours. Eve Harrington: I never intended you to be. Addison DeWitt: Yes you did, and you still do. Eve Harrington: I still don't know what you're getting at, but right now I want to take my nap. It's important... Addison DeWitt: It's important right now that we talk, killer to killer. Eve Harrington: Champion to champion. Addison DeWitt: Not with me, you're no champion. You're stepping way up in class. Eve Harrington: Addison, will you please say what you have to say, plainly and distinctly, and then get out, so I can take my nap? Addison DeWitt: Very well - plainly and distinctly - though I consider it unnecessary because you know as well as I do what I'm going to say: Lloyd may leave Karen, but he will not leave Karen for you. Eve Harrington: What do you mean by that? Addison DeWitt: More plainly and more distinctly: I have not come to New Haven to see the play, discuss your dreams, or pull the ivy from the walls of Yale. I have come here to tell you that you will not marry Lloyd, or anyone else for that matter, because I will not permit it. Eve Harrington: What have you got to do with it? Addison DeWitt: Everything, because after tonight, you will belong to me. Eve Harrington: Belong? To you? I can't believe my ears! Addison DeWitt: What a dull cliché. Eve Harrington: Belong to you - why, that sounds medieval, something out of an old melodrama! Addison DeWitt: So does the history of the world for the past twenty years. I don't enjoy putting it as bluntly as this. Frankly, I'd hoped that somehow you would have known, that you would have taken it for granted that you and I... Eve Harrington: Taken it for granted that you and I... [laughs] Addison DeWitt: [slaps her] Now, remember, as long as you live, never to laugh at me - at anything or anyone else, but never at me. Eve Harrington: [walks to the door and opens it] Get out! Addison DeWitt: You're too short for that gesture. Besides, it went out with Mrs. Fiske.
Margo Channing: So many people know me. I wish I did. I wish someone would tell me about me. Karen Richards: You're Margo, just Margo. Margo Channing: And what is that, besides something spelled out in light bulbs, I mean - besides something called a temperament, which consists mostly of swooping about on a broomstick and screaming at the top of my voice? Infants behave the way I do, you know. They carry on and misbehave - they'd get drunk if they knew how - when they can't have what they want, when they feel unwanted or insecure or unloved.
Lloyd Richards: That bitter cynicism of yours is something you've acquired since you left Radcliffe! Karen Richards: The cynicism you refer to, I acquired the day I discovered I was different from little boys!
Margo Channing: Lloyd, honey, be a playwright with guts. Write me one about a nice normal woman who just shoots her husband.
Lloyd Richards: I shall never understand the weird process by which a body with a voice suddenly fancies itself as a mind. Just when exactly does an actress decide they're HER words she's speaking and HER thoughts she's expressing? Margo Channing: Usually at the point where she has to rewrite and rethink them, to keep the audience from leaving the theatre!
Addison DeWitt: That I should want you at all suddenly strikes me as the height of improbability. But that in itself is probably the reason: You're an improbable person, Eve, and so am I. We have that in common. Also our contempt for humanity and inability to love and be loved, insatiable ambition, and talent. We deserve each other.
Margo Channing: Nice speech, Eve. But I wouldn't worry too much about your heart. You can always put that award where your heart ought to be.
Addison DeWitt: And what's your name? Phoebe: Phoebe. Addison DeWitt: Phoebe? Phoebe: I call myself Phoebe. Addison DeWitt: And why not? Tell me, Phoebe, do you want someday to have an award like that of your own? Phoebe: More than anything else in the world. Addison DeWitt: Then you must ask Miss Harrington how to get one. Miss Harrington knows all about it.
Margo Channing: Birdie, you don't like Eve, do you? Birdie: You looking for an answer or an argument? Margo Channing: An answer. Birdie: No. Margo Channing: Why not? Birdie: Now you want an argument.
Bill Sampson: This is my cue to take you in my arms and reassure you. But I'm not going to - I'm too mad. Margo Channing: Guilty! Bill Sampson: Mad! Darling, there are certain characteristics for which you are famous, on stage and off. I love you for some of them, in spite of others. I haven't let those become too important. They're part of your equipment for getting along in what is laughingly called our environment. You have to keep your teeth sharp - all right - but I will not have you sharpen them on me, or on Eve! Margo Channing: What about her teeth? What about her fangs? Bill Sampson: She hasn't cut them yet, and you know it! So when you start judging an idealistic, dreamy-eyed kid by the barroom Benzedrine standards of this megalomaniac society, I won't have it! Eve Harrington has never, by word, look, thought, or suggestion indicated anything to me but her adoration for you and her happiness at our being in love. And to intimate anything else doesn't spell jealousy to me - it spells a paranoiac insecurity that you should be ashamed of! Margo Channing: Cut! Print it! What happens in the next reel? Do I get dragged off screaming to the snake pits?
Birdie: What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin' at her rear end.
Bill Sampson: Wherever there's magic and make-believe and an audience, there's theatre.
Bill Sampson: You know, there isn't a playwright in the world who could make me believe this would happen between two adult people. Goodbye, Margo. Margo Channing: Bill? Where are you going? To find Eve? Bill Sampson: That suddenly makes the whole thing believable.
Addison DeWitt: [voiceover] Margo Channing is a star of the theater. She made her first stage appearance at the age of four in Midsummer Night's Dream. She played a fairy and entered, quite unexpectedly, stark naked. She has been a star ever since. Margo is a great star, a true star. She never was or will be anything less or anything else.
[a butler passes by] Miss Claudia Caswell: Oh, waiter! Addison DeWitt: That is not a waiter, my dear, that is a butler. Miss Claudia Caswell: Well, I can't yell "Oh butler!" can I? Maybe somebody's name is Butler. Addison DeWitt: You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point. Miss Claudia Caswell: I don't want to make trouble. All I want is a drink. Max Fabian: Leave it to me. I'll get you one. Miss Claudia Caswell: Thank you, Mr. Fabian. Addison DeWitt: Well done! I can see your career rise in the east like the sun.
Miss Claudia Caswell: Tell me this, do they have auditions for television? Addison DeWitt: That's, uh, all television is, my dear, nothing but auditions.
Margo Channing: You bought the new girdles a size smaller, I can feel it. Birdie: Something maybe grew a size larger. Margo Channing: When we get home you're going to get into one of those girdles and act for two and a half hours. Birdie: I couldn't get into the girdle in two and a half hours.
Lloyd Richards: How about calling it a night? Margo Channing: And you pose as a playwright? A situation pregnant with possibilities and all you can think of is everybody go to sleep.
Addison DeWitt: [Voice over intro] Those of you who do not read, attend the theater, listen to unsponsored radio programs, or know anything of the world in which you live, it is perhaps necessary to introduce myself. My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it, I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theater.
Bill Sampson: Have you no human consideration? Margo Channing: Show me a human, and I might have!
Addison DeWitt: We all have abnormalities in common. We're a breed apart from the rest of humanity, we theatre folk. We are the original displaced personalities.
Bill Sampson: We have to go to City Hall for the marriage license and blood test. Margo Channing: I'd marry you if it turned out you had no blood at all.
Lloyd Richards: A Hollywood movie star just arrived. Margo Channing: Shucks, and I sent my autograph book to the cleaner.
Bill Sampson: You have every reason for happiness. Margo Channing: Except happiness!
Addison DeWitt: There never was, and there never will be, another like you.
Birdie: The bed looks like a dead animal act.
Margo Channing: Don't get up. And please stop acting as if I were the queen mother. Eve Harrington: I'm sorry, I...
Margo Channing: I distinctly remember, Addison, crossing you off of my guest list. What are you doing here? Addison DeWitt: Dear Margo, you were an unforgettable Peter Pan. You must play it again soon. You remember Miss Caswell. Margo Channing: I do not. How do you do? Claudia Caswell: We've never met. Maybe that's why? Addison DeWitt: Miss Casswell is an actress, a graduate of the Copacabana School of the Dramatic Arts. [Eve enters] Addison DeWitt: Ah Eve. Eve Harrington: Good evening Mr. DeWitt. Margo Channing: I'd no idea you two knew each other. Addison DeWitt: This must be at long last our formal introduction. Until now we've only met in passing. Claudia Caswell: That's how you met me... in passing. Margo Channing: Eve, this is an old friend of Mr. DeWitt's mother. Miss Caswell, Miss Harrington. Eve Harrington: Miss Caswell. Claudia Caswell: How do you do? Margo Channing: Addison, I've been waiting for you to meet Eve for the longest time. Addison DeWitt: It could only have been your natural timidity that kept you from mentioning it. Margo Channing: You've heard of her great interest in the theater. Addison DeWitt: We have that in common. Margo Channing: Then you two must have a long talk. Eve Harrington: I'm afraid Mr. DeWitt would find me boring. Claudia Caswell: You won't bore him long, you won't get a chance to talk. Addison DeWitt: Claudia, come here [takes her aside] Addison DeWitt: . You see that man, that's Max Fabian, the producer. Now go do yourself some good. Claudia Caswell: Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits? Addison DeWitt: Because that's what they are [taking her coat] Addison DeWitt: , now go and make him happy. [Goes back to Margo and drapes the coat over her arm] Addison DeWitt: Now don't worry about your little charge, she'll be in safe hands. [Walks off with Eve] Margo Channing: [Watches them go, then lifts her martini] Ah-men.
Eve Harrington: If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights.
Bill Sampson: Looks like I'm going to have a very fancy party... Margo Channing: I thought you were going to be late. Bill Sampson: When I'm guest of honor? Margo Channing: I had no idea you were even here. Bill Sampson: I ran into Eve on my way upstairs; she told me you were dressing. Margo Channing: That never stopped you before. Bill Sampson: Well, we started talking, she wanted to know all about Hollywood, she seemed so interested... Margo Channing: She's a girl of so many interests. Bill Sampson: It's a pretty rare quality these days. Margo Channing: She's a girl of so many rare qualities. Bill Sampson: So she seems. Margo Channing: So you've pointed out, so often. So many qualities, so often. Her loyalty, efficiency, devotion, warmth, affection - and so young. So young and so fair...
Margo Channing: Thank you, Eve. I'd like a martini, very dry. Bill Sampson: I'll get it. [to Eve] Bill Sampson: What'll you have? Margo Channing: A milkshake? Eve Harrington: A martini, very dry, please.
Addison DeWitt: While you wait you can read my column. It'll make minutes fly like hours.
Margo Channing: She thinks only of me, doesn't she? Birdie: Well, let's say she thinks only about you, anyway. Margo Channing: How do you mean that? Birdie: I'll tell you how: like... like she's studying you, like you was a play or a book or a set of blueprints - how you walk, talk, eat, think, sleep... Margo Channing: I'm sure that's very flattering, Birdie. I'm sure there's nothing wrong with it.
Addison DeWitt: [voiceover] The minor awards, as you can see, have already been presented. Minor awards are for such as the writer and director, since their function is merely to construct a tower so that the world can applaud a light which flashes on top of it. And no brighter light has ever dazzled the eye than Eve Harrington.
Margo Channing: I'll admit I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut.
Margo Channing: I detest cheap sentiment.
Bill Sampson: Outside of a bee hive Margo, your beahvior would not be considered either Queenly or Motherly. Margo Channing: You are in a beehive, pal. Didn't you know? We are all busy little bees, full of stings, making honey day and night. Aren't we honey?
Lloyd Richards: There comes a time that a piano realizes that it has not written a concerto. Margo Channing: And you, I take it, are the Paderewski who plays his concerto on me, the piano?
Margo Channing: Peace and quiet is for libraries!
Lloyd Richards: What makes you think either Miller or Sherwood would stand for the nonsense I take from you? You'd better stick to Beaumont and Fletcher! They've been dead for three hundred years! Margo Channing: ALL playwrights should be dead for three hundred years!
Bill Sampson: The Theatuh, the Theatuh - what book of rules says the Theater exists only within some ugly buildings crowded into one square mile of New York City? Or London, Paris or Vienna? Listen, junior. And learn. Want to know what the Theater is? A flea circus. Also opera. Also rodeos, carnivals, ballets, Indian tribal dances, Punch and Judy, a one-man band - all Theater. Wherever there's magic and make-believe and an audience - there's Theater. Donald Duck, Ibsen, and The Lone Ranger, Sarah Bernhardt, Poodles Hanneford, Lunt and Fontanne, Betty Grable, Rex and Wild, and Eleanora Duse. You don't understand them all, you don't like them all, why should you? The Theater's for everybody - you included, but not exclusively - so don't approve or disapprove. It may not be your Theater, but it's Theater of somebody, somewhere.
Margo Channing: Where is Princess... fire and music?
Margo Channing: As it happens, there are particular aspects of my life to which I would like to maintain sole and exclusive rights and privileges. Bill Sampson: For instance what? Margo Channing: For instance: you!
Addison DeWitt: You're maudlin and full of self-pity. You're magnificent!
Addison DeWitt: Too bad, we're gonna miss the third act. They're gonna play it offstage.
Margo Channing: Margo Channing is ageless - spoken like a press agent. Lloyd Richards: I know what I'm talking about. After all, they're my plays. Margo Channing: Spoken like an author. Lloyd, I'm not twenty-ish, I'm not thirty-ish. Three months ago I was forty years old. Forty. Four O. That slipped out. I hadn't quite made up my mind to admit it. Now I suddenly feel as if I've taken all my clothes off.
Margo Channing: Heartburn? It's that Miss Caswell. I don't see why she hasn't given Addison heartburn. Bill Sampson: No heart to burn! Margo Channing: Everybody has a heart - except some people.
Eve Harrington: I will regard this great honor not so much as an award for what I have achieved, but a standard to hold against what I have yet to accomplish.
[Bill is saying goodbye to Birdie as he departs for Hollywood] Bill Sampson: What should I tell Tyrone Power for you? Birdie: Just give him my phone number; I'll tell him myself.
Karen Richards: I'm sorry, Margo. Margo Channing: What for? It isn't as though you personally drained the gas tank yourself.
Eve Harrington: When you're a secretary in a brewery, it's pretty hard to make-believe you're anything else. Everything is beer.
Llyod Richards: You knew when you came in that the audition was over, that Eve was your understudy, playing that childish little game of cat and mouse. Margo Channing: Not mouse, never mouse. If anything *rat*!
Lloyd Richards: The atmosphere is very MacBeth-ish... what has, or is about to, happen?
Bill Sampson: Real diamonds in a wig, the world we live in.
Karen Richards: This beats all records for running, standing or jumping gall.
[on theatrical producers] Claudia Caswell: Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits?
Margo Channing: I'll admit I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail like a salted peanut.
Margo Channing: [to Bill] You be the host. It's your party. Happy birthday, welcome home, and we who are about to die salute you.
Bill Sampson: Don't cry. Just score it as an incomplete forward pass.
Bill Sampson: I don't agree, Addison. Addison DeWitt: That happens to be your particular abnormality.
Eve Harrington: It's not modesty. I just don't try to kid myself. Addison DeWitt: A revolutionary approach to the Theater.
Llyod Richards: I understand that your understudy, Miss Harrington, has given her notice. Margo Channing: Too bad. Bill Sampson: I'm broken up about it.
Eve Harrington: I'll never forget this night as long as I live, and I'll never forget you for making it possible.
Margo Channing: Heaven help me. I love a psychotic!
Birdie: There's a message from the bartender. Does Miss Channing know she ordered domestic gin by mistake? Margo Channing: The only thing I ordered by mistake is the guests. They're domestic, too, and they don't care what they drink as long as it burns!
[Margo is getting drunk at the party] Bill Sampson: Many of your guests have been wondering when they may be permitted to view the body. Where has it been laid out? Margo Channing: It hasn't been laid out, we haven't finished with the embalming. As a matter of fact, you're looking at it - the remains of Margo Channing, sitting up. It is my last wish to be buried sitting up.
Birdie: We now got everything a dressing room needs except a basketball hoop.
Addison DeWitt: Well, Max has gone to a great deal of trouble. This is going to be an elaborate party, and it's for you. Eve Harrington: No it isn't. [raises the award statuette] Eve Harrington: It's for this. Addison DeWitt: It's the same thing, isn't it? Eve Harrington: Exactly. Here, take it to the party instead of me [hands it to him] Eve Harrington: .
Eve Harrington: I won't play tonight. I couldn't, not possibly. I couldn't go on. Addison DeWitt: Couldn't go on? You'll give the performance of your life.
Bill Sampson: [to Eve] "Don't let it worry you", said the camera man, "Even De Mille couldn't see anything looking through the wrong end!" So that was the first and last... Margo Channing: [entering] Don't let me kill the point. Or isn't it a story for grownups? Bill Sampson: You've heard it - about the time I looked into the wrong end of the camera finder. Margo Channing: Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke. Eve Harrington: I'd like to hear it. Margo Channing: Some snowy night, in front of the fire.
Addison DeWitt: We all come into this world with our little egos equipped with individual horns. If we don't blow them, who else will?
Margo Channing: You're not much of a bargain, you know. You're conceited and thoughtless and messy.
Margo Channing: Why so remote Addison? I should think you'd be at your protégé's side lending her moral support. Addison DeWitt: Miss Caswell at the moment is where I can lend no support, moral or otherwise. Margo Channing: In the lady's, shall we say, lounge? Addison DeWitt: ...being violently ill to her tummy.
Max Fabian: Let the rest of the world beat their brains out for a buck. It's friends that count. And I got friends.
Bill Sampson: I start shooting a week from Monday. Zanuck is impatient. He wants me, he needs me. Margo Channing: Zanuck, Zanuck, Zanuck. What are you two, lovers?
Karen Richards: Nothing is forever in the Theatre. Whatever it is, it's here, it flares up, burns hot and then its gone.
Margo Channing: Bill's welcome home birthday party might go down in history. Even before the party started, I could smell disaster in the air. I knew it, I sensed it, even as I finished dressing for the blasted party.
Margo Channing: [in front of her boyfriend, Bill] I love you, Max. I really mean it. I love you. Come to the pantry. [She leaves] Max Fabian: [to Bill] She loves me like a father. Also, she's loaded.
Lloyd Richards: You've been talking to that venomous fishwife Addison DeWitt! Margo Channing: In this case, apparently as trustworthy as the World Almanac!
Addison DeWitt: You could sleep now, couldn't you? Eve Harrington: Why not? Addison DeWitt: The mark of a true killer: Sleep tight, rest easy, and come out fighting.
Karen Richards: A part in a play. You'd do all that just for a part in a play? Eve Harrington: I'd do much more for a part that good.
Margo Channing: I'm a junkyard.
Lloyd Richards: There are very few moments in life as good as this. Let's remember it. To each of us and all of us, never have we been more close, may we never be farther apart.
Birdie: I haven't got a union. I'm slave labor. Margo Channing: Well? Birdie: But the wardrobe women have got one, and next to a tenor, a wardrobe woman is the touchiest thing in show business.
Karen Richards: Where were we going that night, Lloyd and I? Funny, the things you remember and the things you don't.