The Three Faces of Eve
The Three Faces of Eve is a 1957 American mystery drama film presented in CinemaScope, based on the book of the same name about the life of Chris Costner Sizemore, which was written by psychiatrists Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley, who also helped write the screenplay. Sizemore, also known as Eve White, was a woman they suggested might have dissociative identity disorder (then known as multiple personality disorder). Sizemore's identity was concealed in interviews about this film and was not revealed to the public until 1977. The film was directed by Nunnally Johnson.
|The Three Faces of Eve|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Nunnally Johnson|
|Produced by||Nunnally Johnson|
|Written by||Nunnally Johnson|
|Based on||The Three Faces of Eve, a Case of Multiple Personality|
by Corbett H. Thigpen
Hervey M. Cleckley
Lee J. Cobb
|Narrated by||Alistair Cooke|
|Music by||Robert Emmett Dolan|
|Edited by||Marjorie Fowler|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1.4 million (US rentals)|
Joanne Woodward won the Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the first actress to win an Oscar for portraying three personalities (Eve White, Eve Black, and Jane). The Three Faces of Eve also became the first film since 1936 to win the Best Actress award without getting nominated in another category after Bette Davis won for Dangerous (1935).
In 1951, Eve White is a timid, self-effacing wife and mother who has severe and blinding headaches and occasional blackouts. Eventually she is sent to see personality psychiatrist Dr. Luther, and while having a conversation, a "new personality", the wild, fun-loving Eve Black, emerges. Eve Black knows everything about Eve White, but Eve White is unaware of Eve Black. Eve White is sent to a hospital for observation after Eve Black tries to kill Eve White's daughter, Bonnie. When Eve is released, her husband finds a job in another state and leaves her in a boarding house, while Bonnie lives with Eve's parents. When Eve White's husband returns, he tells her that he doesn't believe she has multiple personalities and tries to take her back to Jacksonville, Florida, with him but she feels she isn't well enough to leave and is afraid Eve Black will try to harm Bonnie again and refuses to go. The stress of the situation causes Eve Black to assert and she confronts Eve White's husband at his hotel where he not only realizes Eve Black is real, but also she convinces him to take her to Jacksonville. When Eve Black goes out dancing with another man, Ralph slaps her when she returns to the hotel and ends up divorcing Eve White.
Dr. Luther considers both Eve White and Eve Black to be incomplete and inadequate personalities. Most of the film depicts Luther's attempts to understand and deal with these two faces of Eve. Under hypnosis at one session, a third personality manifests, the relatively stable Jane. He eventually prompts her to remember a traumatic event in Eve's childhood. Her beloved grandmother had died when she was six, and according to family custom relatives were supposed to kiss the dead person at the viewing, making it easier for them to let go. Eve's trauma, grief and terror led to her "splitting off" into two distinctly different personalities.
After discovering the cause of her disorder, Jane is gradually able to remember everything that has ever happened to all three personalities. When Luther asks to speak with Eve White, they discover that Eve White and Eve Black no longer exist. All three personalities have merged again into a single one. She marries a man named Earl whom she met when she was Jane and reunites with her daughter Bonnie.
- Joanne Woodward as Eve White / Eve Black / Jane
- Mimi Gibson as Eve - Age 8
- David Wayne as Ralph White
- Lee J. Cobb as Doctor Curtis Luther
- Edwin Jerome as Doctor Francis Day
- Alena Murray as Secretary
- Nancy Kulp as Mrs. Black
- Douglas Spencer as Mr. Black
- Terry Ann Ross as Bonnie White
- Ken Scott as Earl
- Alistair Cooke as the narrator of the film
- Vince Edwards as the soldier hitting on Eve Black in the club (uncredited)
The book by Thigpen and Cleckley was rushed into publication, and the film rights were immediately sold to director Nunnally Johnson in 1957, apparently to capitalize on public interest in multiple personalities following the publication of Shirley Jackson's 1954 novel The Bird's Nest, which was also made into a film in 1957 titled Lizzie.
The real Eve
Chris Costner Sizemore has written at some length about her experiences as the real "Eve". In her 1958 book The Final Face of Eve, she used the pseudonym Evelyn Lancaster. In her 1977 book I'm Eve, she revealed her true identity. She also wrote a follow-up book, A Mind Of My Own (1989).
Critics uniformly praised Joanne Woodward's performance, but opinions of other aspects of the film were more varied. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times delivered a mixed review, writing that Woodward played her part "with superlative flexibility and emotional power", but that "when you come right down to it, this is simply a melodramatic exercise—an exhibition of psychiatric hocus-pocus, without any indication of how or why. It makes for a fairly fetching mystery, although it is too verbose and too long." Variety wrote that the film was "frequently an intriguing and provocative motion picture" and that Woodward "fulfills her assignment excellently," but believed that the comedy elements "will undoubtedly confuse many viewers who won't quite be sure what emotions are suitable." Harrison's Reports called the film "a fascinating adult drama" and prophetically declared that Woodward's performance was "of Academy Award caliber." John McCarten of The New Yorker wrote that Woodward "does well in a role that is inevitably full of confusion," but the film "seems rather fantastic when it depicts the heroine going through her mental gyrations at top speed." The Monthly Film Bulletin agreed, writing that Woodward "manages the triple role cleverly," but finding that the depiction of psychiatric treatment "all looks a good deal too easy, and in spite of Alistair Cooke's introductory assurances of authenticity one is always conscious of being given the case history in capsule form."
The film holds a score of 93% on the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes based on 15 reviews.
Awards and honors
Woodward – at the time a relative unknown in Hollywood – won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and later went on to play Dr. Cornelia Wilbur in the film Sybil (1976). It was a reversal of roles for Woodward, who played the psychiatrist who diagnosed Sybil Dorsett (played by Sally Field, who subsequently won an Emmy for her portrayal) with multiple personality disorder and subsequently led her through treatment.
- Chris Costner Sizemore – original author and subject, aka Evelyn Lancaster
- List of American films of 1957
- Mental illness in films
- Multiple Personality: Reality and Illusion – Fact-based docu-drama that delves into the lives of four women with multiple personality disorder including the life of Sizemore
- "To Attend 'Eve' Bow". Motion Picture Daily: 3. September 10, 1957. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p251
- "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
- Thigpen, Corbett H.; Cleckley, Hervey M. (1992). The Three Faces of Eve (Revised ed.). New York City: McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 978-0911238518. [Translated into 27 languages]
- Bliss 1986, p. 263.
- Smith 2000, p. 244.
- "The Three Faces of Eve". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved September 5, 2016.
- "Dangerous". Retrieved July 4, 2019 – via www.IMDb.com.
- Jackson, Shirley (1954). The bird's nest. New York: Farrar, Straus and Young. OCLC 757989.
- Crowther, Bosley (September 27, 1957). "Screen: '3 Faces of Eve'". The New York Times: 16.
- "The Three Faces of Eve". Variety: 6. August 21, 1957.
- "'The Three Faces of Eve' with Joanne Woodward, Lee J. Cobb an David Wayne". Harrison's Reports: 135. August 24, 1957.
- McCarten, John (October 5, 1957). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker: 145–146.
- "The Three Faces of Eve". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 24 (286): 137. November 1957.
- "The Three Faces of Eve". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 28, 2018.