Directed by Nunnally Johnson in 1957, The Three Faces Of Eve introduces us to a housewife named Eve White (Joanne Woodward) who really and truly wants to be a good wife to her husband, Ralph (David Wayne). While she is faithful to him, he feels insecure and worries that his beautiful wife may have settled. She also suffers from regular migraines and occasionally blacks out for no apparent reason. They have some stress in their life because of this and soon enough wind up in the office of Dr. Luther (Lee J. Cobb) who isn't initially quite sure what may be causing some of the expanding rifts between the two of them. After putting Eve under hypnosis and doing a bit of prodding, he comes to the conclusion that Eve actually suffers from multiple personality disorder and that there are actually two other ‘people' living in side of her.
It turns out that the other personalities are fairly different from the quiet, reserved Eve that Ralph has married. Eve Black is a woman more in tune with her sexuality than Eve White, and she's not afraid to use it, while Jane is a more practical down to Earth type, the kind of woman who will get things done on her terms. Both are more aggressive than the personality Eve White seems to have started off with, and Luther soon discovers the challenges involved in helping his new patient and her husband come to terms with her issues.
While there's no doubt that this picture was a far more shocking film during its initial run than it is by modern standards (given that mental illness is on the news on a regular basis and treatment and acceptance levels are considerably improved over where they were in the fifties), The Three Faces Of Eve remains an impressive picture. The main reason for this would be the performance from Joanne Woodward, whose work here rightfully won her an Oscar. She transitions between the three personalities effortlessly and with such a naturalness that it's actually a little unsettling. She's a beautiful women playing somewhat of a tragic figure here and she really invests everything she has in the part. This is ‘her movie' more so than a lot of other lead actresses can say about some of their best pictures and the performance that she gives in this picture is worth all of the praise that was lauded on her in 1957 and continues to be lauded on her to this day.
The supporting roles are also handled well here. David Wayne is quite good as the somewhat paranoid husband who isn't quite sure enough of his relationship with his wife to really succeed the way he wants to. His character doesn't understand things and you can feel his stress. Lee J. Cobb as the doctor also provides some strong work, using his distinctive screen presence well and crafting a character who is interesting and memorable. The fact that the movie is narrated by none other than Alistair Cooke doesn't hurt things either, his instantly recognizable voice lending credence to the story.
Shot in stark black and white the movie isn't always flashy looking but the cinematography by Stanley Cortez is rock solid and makes good use of shadow and light to portray some mood and occasionally some very intense emotions. Complimenting this well is the score by Robert Emmett Dolan. While time may have dulled its impact a bit, it has not tarnished the quality of the film in the least and The Three Faces Of Eve remains regarded as a classic because it was and still is a very well made picture.
The Three Faces Of Eve is framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. The black and white transfer is quite a strong offering from Fox, offering excellent detail and contrast levels that are pretty much perfect. Black levels are nice and deep but without any crush or obvious compression issues. Shadow detail stays strong and we get nice clean whites and impressive mid-tones. There isn't much in the way of print damage to complain about at all, while texture impresses throughout the movie. There are a few shots here and there that look a little bit softer than others, and this was the case on DVD as well so it likely just stems back to the original photography. All in all, the movie looks excellent on Blu-ray.
The default audio track for the feature is an English language DTS-HD Mono mix, though a Dolby Digital Mono track is offered in Spanish with subtitles provided in English SDH, French and Spanish. The score sounds great here while dialogue is nice and natural sounding. There are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced throughout. Though the mix shows the limitations of the original audio you certainly can't fault it for that, this is a nice mix, it sounds very good.
The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary track from film historian Aubrey Soloman who has written extensively on the history of Fox in his book The Films Of 20th Century Fox. Here the focus is understandably on the feature at hand and the author proves he knows his stuff offering up loads of background information and trivia not only on the cast but on the director and producer as well. All of this is given some interesting context by way of some more facts and figures about where the studio was at this time in their history and how this picture fits in with what they were doing. It's a good track, well-paced and delivered in a very listenable manner.
Aside from that, we get a vintage Fox Movietone News Reel that runs two and a half minutes in length and features Woodward accepting her Oscar statue and a trailer for the film. Both of these are in standard definition. Menus and chapter stops are also included.
The Three Faces Of Eve is just a solid movie through and through. The story is dramatic and interesting, sometimes fairly intense and even a little eerie, while the technical side of the production ensures that it looks and sounds good. The real icing on the cake is the acting, however, with Joanne Woodward really delivering amazing work here. Fox doesn't add much to their Blu-ray in terms of extras, everything looks to have been ported over from the past DVD release, but the audio and video quality is excellent across the board. Highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.