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The Three Faces of Eve: Fox Studio Classics

These days, given her relative lack of time spent in front of a camera, it's easy to think of Joanne Woodward as "just" Mrs. Paul Newman. But back in the late '50s, she was a fresh-faced ingénue whose career was made when Judy Garland had to pass on playing a demure Georgia housewife with a major identity crisis. Based on a medical case study about a real woman with multiple personality disorder, The Three Faces of Eve (1957) follows Eve White (Woodward) as she seeks psychiatric help from Dr. Luther (Lee J. Cobb), is diagnosed, and works as hard as she can to get better. The most fascinating part of the film is watching Eve shift between her different identities — initially, shy, biddable wife and mother Eve White and brash, flirtatious party girl Eve Black (a third personality, the composed, gentle Jane, emerges much later). As the movie opens, Eve White is concerned about a spate of headaches and blackouts she's been having; when her husband Ralph (David Wayne) catches her trying to hurt their daughter, Bonnie, the true nature of her affliction begins to reveal itself. Woodward's acting during the scenes in which she shifts between Eves White and Black is amazing; not only does she behave differently depending on which Eve she's playing, but somehow she manages to look different, too. A flip of the hair, a change in posture, a louder laugh; Woodward (who won an Academy Award for her performance) morphs from one woman into the other gracefully and smoothly. Many of these scenes take place in Luther's office, since Eve's relationship with him is the one at the movie's core (Ralph turns out to be less than understanding), and it's Luther who ultimately helps Eve discover the root of her problems. Yes, that climactic scene — along with several others — is a bit melodramatic and over the top, but that has more to do with the filmmaking style of the '50s than anything else. Thanks to Woodward, The Three Faces of Eve remains a compelling, well-acted character study. Fox, which brings the movie to DVD as part of its "Studio Classics" series, presents the film in a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby 2.0 stereo audio (English and Spanish mono tracks are also available, as are English and Spanish subtitles). Features include a fact-filled commentary by film historian Aubrey Solomon (find out who else besides Garland was initially considered for the role of Eve), vintage newsreel footage of Woodward winning her Oscar, and the trailer. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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