The Three Faces of Eve Blu-ray Review
THE THREE FACES OF EVE opens like very few films. We’re informed—almost warned—that this is indeed a true story about a “sweet, rather baffled young housewife who, in 1951, in her hometown of Georgia, suddenly frightened her husband by behaving very unlike herself…In a literal and terrifying sense, inside this demure young woman, two very vivid and different personalities were battling for the mastery of her character.”
The woman is Eve White (Joanne Woodward, in an early role). The first time we see her, she’s entering the office of psychiatrist Curtis Luther (Lee J. Cobb, ON THE WATERFRONT), following a series of spells. He offers the help she needs and she goes a full year without any incidents. And then things start to seem off again. Eve’s husband, Ralph (David Wayne, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE), comes home one day to find a wardrobe of new clothes spread out on the bed, and neither Ralph nor Eve has any idea who purchased them. Later that afternoon, Ralph finds Eve strangling their daughter, Bonnie (Terry Ann Ross, who had appeared on LASSIE). Eve can only say, “I didn’t do it.”
And maybe she didn’t; at least, not entirely. Eve White has another personality, Eve Black, who has a tendency to go out partying and leaving Eve White with the hangovers. (The third face, Jane, appears eventually, but it’s Eve Black that poses the greatest threat: “One of these days I’m gonna come out and stay out.”) Further observation lands Eve a trip to the local mental institution, where Dr. Luther can examine her condition.
American movies from this time tend to be too melodramatic when tackling mental illness. Take a look at 1948’s THE SNAKE PIT, with Olivia de Havilland as a schizophrenic, or even 1945’s SPELLBOUND, which was directed by master Alfred Hitchcock and still at times feels hokey. A lot of this may have had to do with how little was known about these disorders then compared to now, the writers’ disinterest in research or the studios’ fear in approaching such topics.
THE THREE FACES OF EVE, released in 1957, has a touch of this, but stands out for a few reasons. First, a number of lines of dialogue, the introduction tells us, are lifted from actual reports, which lends to the film’s intended tone. The film is not a piece of entertainment; it is a procedural and very harsh at times, and writer/director/producer Nunnally Johnson (who earned a DGA nomination for 1955’s THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT) handles it all with complete professionalism.
And then there is Joanne Woodward, who rightfully earned the Oscar, edging out the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Deborah Kerr. She would be nominated three more times (RACHEL, RACHEL; SUMMER WISHES, WINTER DREAMS; MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE), but her turn as Eve White/Eve Black/Jane remains the standout in her nearly 60-year career. It would be easy to fudge playing one with a multiple personality disorder (especially in the 1950s), but Woodward has put in a tremendous level of respect for just not her character(s), but the condition as a whole.
THE THREE FACES OF EVE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Fox has done a remarkable job bringing the nearly 60-year-old THE THREE FACES OF EVE to Blu-ray. This high-definition transfer features fine contrast and very nice details in sets (however limited they may be), costumes and facial textures.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0; Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. The movie doesn’t have much to offer in the way of audio to begin with, but this transfer features clean dialogue and no detectable hiccups.
Audio commentary with film historian Aubrey Solomon: Solomon gives a fairly strong commentary that, between bouts of silence, offers a number of tidbits regarding THE THREE FACES OF EVE.
Fox Movietone News: Academy Awards (2:22) features footage from the 30th Academy Awards, where Joanne Woodward won the Oscar.