The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

Article 2685 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-3-2008
Posting Date: 12-19-2008
Directed by Nunnally Johnson
Featuring Joanne Woodward, David Wayne, Lee J. Cobb
Country: USA

A doctor discovers that a patient of his suffers from multiple personality disorder.

No, it’s not a genre movie; it’s another case where certain horror elements (both mental illness and hypnotism are here) are used in a non-horror environment, and it’s the existence of those elements that lead certain people to include this as a genre item. I actually have a lot of admiration for the movie; it strives to be as realistic as possible, it is anchored by a standout performance by Joanne Woodward, and it chooses to avoid a sensationalistic view of the topic. I also found the movie very interesting and watchable. Its biggest problem is that it was a product of its time (where certain subjects could not be discussed), and to modern eyes, the movie comes across as naive and rather simplistic. Apparently, the book itself had some of these problems and was, in fact, premature; the woman on whom Eve was based turned out to have something on the order of 27 personalities, of which only three or so would be prominent at a time. Furthermore, the traumatic event that was the movie’s cause of the personality split seems highly unlikely; though the event itself may have occurred, I’m sure that it was just one of many events that caused the split, most of which probably couldn’t even be mentioned in a movie from the time. For a much more sophisticated movie on the subject, I recommend SYBIL, and it’s interesting to note that Joanne Woodward also appears in that movie.


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