Review: ‘The Three Faces of Eve’

Three Faces of Eve is based on a true-life case history recorded by two psychiatrists - Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley - and which was a popular-selling book. It is frequently an intriguing, provocative motion picture, but director Nunnally Johnson's treatment of the subject matter makes the film neither fish nor foul. Johnson shifts back and forth - striving for comedy at one point and presenting a documentary case history at another.

Three Faces of Eve is based on a true-life case history recorded by two psychiatrists – Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley – and which was a popular-selling book. It is frequently an intriguing, provocative motion picture, but director Nunnally Johnson’s treatment of the subject matter makes the film neither fish nor foul. Johnson shifts back and forth – striving for comedy at one point and presenting a documentary case history at another.

However, it is notable for the performance of Joanne Woodward as the woman with the triple personality. The three personalities Woodward is called on to play are (1) a drab, colorless Georgia housewife, (2) a mischievous, irresponsible sexy dish, and (3) a sensible, intelligent and balanced woman.

The psychiatric sessions, while possibly authentic, could readily confuse the layman. The manner in which the doctor (Lee J. Cobb) can hypnotize and alter his patient’s personality seems so easy and pat as to appear hard to believe.

That Johnson had no intention of treating the film entirely seriously is tipped off in an opening tongue-in-cheek narration by the urbane and erudite Alistair Cooke.

1957: Best Actress (Joanne Woodward)

The Three Faces of Eve

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Nunnally Johnson; Producer Nunnally Johnson; Screenplay Nunnally Johnson; Camera Stanley Cortez; Editor Marjorie Fowler; Music Robert Emmett Dolan; Art Director Lyle R. Wheeler, Herman A. Blumethal

Crew

(B&W) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1957. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Joanne Woodward David Wayne Lee J. Cobb Edwin Jerome Alena Murray Nancy Kulp

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