The Three Faces of Eve
|The Three Faces of Eve|
|Directed by||Nunnally Johnson|
|Produced by||Nunnally Johnson|
|Written by||Nunnally Johnson|
Lee J. Cobb
|Music by||Robert Emmett Dolan|
|Edited by||Marjorie Fowler|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1.4 million (US rentals)|
The Three Faces of Eve is a 1957 American film adaptation based on a book by psychiatrists Corbett H. Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley, who also helped write the screenplay. It was based on their case of Chris Costner Sizemore, also known as Eve White, a woman they suggested might suffer from dissociative identity disorder. Sizemore's identity was concealed in interviews and this film, and was not revealed to the public until 1975.
Joanne Woodward won the Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the first actress to win an Oscar for portraying three different personalities (Eve White, Eve Black and Jane). The Three Faces of Eve also became the first film to win the Best Actress award without getting nominated in another category since Bette Davis won for Dangerous in 1935, and the last for nearly 31 years until Jodie Foster won the award for The Accused, the film's sole nomination.
Eve White is a timid, self-effacing wife and mother who is subject to severe and blinding headaches and occasional blackouts. Eventually she is sent to see a 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. When Eve Black becomes the dominant personality, Eve White's husband leaves her and abandons their daughter, Bonnie. Eve White is sent to an asylum after Eve Black tries to kill Eve White's daughter.
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. 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 grief and terror led to her "splitting off" into two distinctly different personalities.
Under hypnosis at one session, a third personality manifests, the relatively stable Jane. 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.
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 has also written a follow-up book, A Mind Of My Own (1989).
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. It was a reversal of roles for Ms. 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.
- 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 Chris Costner-Sizemore
- 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. (1957). The Three Faces of Eve. ISBN 0-685-48779-2.
- Jackson, Shirley (1954). The bird's nest. New York: Farrar, Straus and Young. OCLC 757989.