Movie Mirrors Index

The Three Faces of Eve

(1957 b 91')

En: 7 Ed: 7

Adapted from a book by two medical doctors and directed by Nunnally Johnson, a married woman has a hidden personality that comes out and disturbs her husband. They consult a psychiatrist who gradually helps her to find her true self.

            Alistair Cooke (himself) narrates the story of a young woman with more than one personality that is based on the clinical evidence of a case that was documented in 1953. This story based on that case begins in August 1951.

             Ralph White (David Wayne) and Eve White (Joanne Woodward) visit the office of psychiatrist Curtis Luther (Lee J. Cobb). Luther asks about her headaches and “spells.” Ralph thinks it is amnesia, and she says she forgets things. Luther asks if she faints. Eve says as a child she got a splitting headache, and the next thing she could remember it was the next morning. Ralph says he did not see any difference in her.

            Cooke says she was helped by psychiatric treatment at first. Then things changed in the spring of 1952.

            Ralph comes home from work and finds that his daughter Bonnie (Terry Ann Ross) is wearing some high-heel shoes. He asks where she got them, and Bonnie says they are mommy’s. Ralph goes in the bedroom and sees glamorous clothes. Eve asks if he bought them. He says no and sees the bill for $218 with her name on it. They agree that was too much. Eve says it must be a mistake. Ralph calls Miss Effie and says he is bringing them all back. Ralph orders Eve to shut the kitchen door and threatens to slap her face because of the bill. She denies she bought the clothes. He insists on taking them back himself. He finds Eve putting the blinds’ string around the neck of Bonnie and throws Eve on the floor. He threatens to kill her if she gets up.

            Ralph and Eve are trying to explain this incident to Dr. Luther who asks Ralph to step out of the room while he talks with Eve. She says what Ralph said is not true. Luther asks her why Ralph would say things that are not true. She wonders if Ralph is trying to make her lose her mind. Luther says he finds no evidence of that. Eve thinks she is losing her mind. She says she is hearing voices too. He asks about them. She says it is just one voice for months. A woman’s voice tells her to do terrible things like taking Bonnie to run away. Luther says at least she is recognizing that she is hearing this voice. Eve says it sounds like her own voice. He says that makes no difference, but she doubts that and starts crying. She covers her face, and he calls her “Mrs. White.” She looks up and says she feels fine. Her personality is more outgoing, and she says how Eve White is different than her. She asks him to turn around while she removes her stockings. After that, she invites him to go dancing. He asks who she is. This Eve denies she is married to Ralph or that Bonnie is her daughter. She gets up and turns on some hot music on the radio. He turns it down while she dances. He goes out and asks Dr. Francis Day (Edwin Jerome) in his office if he ever saw a case of multiple personality. Luther asks him if he would recognize one, and they go back to see Eve. Dr. Day questions her, and she says she is Eve Black. She claims she knows everything about Eve White. She says she does not care anything about Ralph. Eve says she yelled at Eve White about that. Eve denies that she is married or ever made love with Ralph. Eve says she is going to come out and stay out. Dr. Day asks if she was ever on the stage. She says she likes to sing. Dr. Luther asks if she can come out whenever she wants. She says no, but it is getting easier with Eve White becoming weaker. She says she got drunk and let her have the hangover, laughing. When she straightens up, Eve White is back.

            Cooke says that Eve was admitted to the psychiatric section of the university hospital on May 17, 1952. Luther did not know whether to confront her with the other personality.

            Eve is reading aloud from a book to orderly Lennie and says she does not understand it. Luther comes in and asks about Bonnie. Eve says she is back with her parents. Luther asks if her marriage has been happy as a whole. She says no. He asks if she loves Ralph, and she says yes. She does not know why she irritates him so much. Luther asks if there is someone deep inside her she cannot reach but that she knows is there.

            Later Eve in her pajamas asks Lennie for a cigarette, and he gives her one. She invites him into her room, and she will read him a poem. He says it is against the rules but goes in, saying he cannot stay long. She says it is a limerick. Quickly he comes back out. Lennie calls Dr. Luther and says she is healthier than he thinks.

            Luther asks Eve to let the other one come out. She is smoking and strokes her leg. He says she is wasting her time because he is a doctor. He warns her that if she gets in trouble, she will suffer along with Mrs. White. He says she might be locked in an asylum. She asks what he will do if she does not come out. Luther says he wants to tell Eve White about her. Eve asks if she will go crazy. He says they have to reunite the two personalities. She mocks the idea of getting introduced. He turns back, and Eve covers her legs. She says she had another one. He tells her about multiple personality.

            Ralph is in Luther’s office, and the doctor tells him that Eve is a very unusual case. Mrs. White has multiple personality. Luther explains that when she was a little girl her personality was divided into two that are different. He says the other one bought the clothes in Atlanta. He says Eve Black is trying to get out. Luther says it is a mental condition. She is not pretending or faking, but she is not psychotic. Ralph does not understand. Luther takes Ralph to see Eve. She asks about Bonnie. Luther asks who this man is, and she says he is her husband. Luther asks to speak with Eve Black. She changes and says she has no husband and that Bonnie is “her child.” Luther advises Ralph not to get angry. Luther asks to speak to Mrs. White, and Eve asks if she went out again. Luther has her go back and forth while Ralph watches.

            After two weeks in the hospital the doctors decided that she could be released. Meanwhile Ralph found a better job in Jacksonville, Florida. Eve lived in an apartment for observation. In her room Ralph explains how the doctors do not promise too much. He tells her not to worry about Bonnie. He says she is not crazy according to the doctor. Ralph says she will be all right and kisses her goodbye. He promises to send her some money, and she says she is going to get a job. He goes out.

            Eve has on a sexy dress and goes out dancing. She dances and sings, “Hold Me.” Then she embraces the sergeant. He wants to leave with her, but she wants to stay. He twists her arm, and she says he hurt her. He says he spent eight bucks on her and expects her to leave with him. She changes and puts her head down on the bar, crying. The sergeant leaves alone.

            Eve is sitting on the porch with an old man when Ralph shows up. Eve goes inside with Ralph, and he says he wants to take her back with him. He says she was going out drinking, and she says she did not know about it. He says one of her is fooling. He asked two doctors, and they said someone is kidding someone. She refuses to leave with him. She does not want to be alone with Bonnie until she is well because she tried to hurt her before. She will not leave until Dr. Luther says she can. He asks if she wants to see Bonnie again and says she may never see her again. He says she has to come with him now. She says she can’t help it, and he leaves. She puts her head down and changes.

            Eve goes to the Dixie Motel and goes into Ralph’s room in a pretty dress. He asks where she got that dress. She lays down on the bed and asks him for a drink like he has. He says he never saw her take a drink before. He pours her one and says she is not fooling him. He says she is trying to get him to think he is the other one. She takes off her stockings and invites him to come to her and sit down. He sits on the other bed, and she says he is cute. She says she used to go for him. He moves over to her bed. She asks him to invite her to go to Jacksonville. He is not sure he should. He tries to embrace her, and she gets up. He wants to take her to Jacksonville, and she says she needs a pretty dress. He offers to buy her one and kisses her. She jumps up and says they should get started. She goes out to wait in the car. He grabs his stuff and goes out.

            While he is driving, he asks her to sit close to him. In the house Eve takes her new dress out of the box.

            Eve is dancing with a sailor and singing. At home Ralph is sitting in a rocking chair when she comes in. She says he did not have to wait up for her. He orders her, “Come here” and slaps her. He picks up things and walks out. On the floor she cries and prays.

            Luther is consulting with Dr. Day about Eve who is now divorced. Luther says neither Eve White nor Black is a solution. She has been coming out since she was six. He wonders if she had a shocking experience as a child. Eve Black has come to see him. Dr. Day shakes her hand, and she flirts with him. Dr. Day goes in his office. Luther invites her into his office. Eve lights a cigarette and says Mrs. White tried to kill herself last night. He asks how, and she says with a razor blade. Eve says she had to stop her. She shows him her bandaged wrist and says it was a close call. Eve says she would not go that far, but Mrs. White was going to kill herself. He asks what was wrong. Eve says she is having blackouts now too. Luther asks to speak to Mrs. White, and she changes. He asks her to undergo hypnosis again. He puts her into a hypnotic state by suggesting her eyelids are getting heavy. He tells her to relax, and she nods off. He starts writing, and she looks around. She asks who he is. He notices she is different and asks who she is. She says she does not know. He excuses himself and goes out to get Dr. Day. Luther asks if she remembers Dr. Day, and they shake hands. Now she remembers that he is Dr. Luther. She denies that she is Mrs. White or Eve Black. Luther asks if she knows them, but she does not know who she is. Dr. Day asks how long has she been around. She does not know but does not think it has been long. She asks if her name could be Jane.

            Cooke says the three women lived their separate lives. Mrs. White works on a telephone switchboard and then changes to Eve Black. Jane is a pleasant woman with no memory. Earl (Ken Scott) brings Jane home in a car and asks if she loves him. She says she does but cannot marry him. He will not give her up without knowing what is the matter. She asks if he read a newspaper article about a woman with three personalities. He says she seems fine, but she says the other two are the problem. He says he still loves her and that they can handle it together. She says she is too mentally sick to marry anyone.

            Cooke says that on September 17, 1953 Mrs. White came to Luther’s office and died there. Luther says she looks tired. He asks her what she thinks of Jane. Eve says she hopes that Jane will be the one to live. He asks if the other two will disappear, and she thinks that will happen. She hopes it will be Jane. He asks if she visited Bonnie and asks if she had fun. Eve says Bonnie told her not to come back that other way. Bonnie asked her to come back the way she is now. Eve says that must have been Jane who is sweet. She got a feeling that she would never see her again. She asks how she could explain it to a little girl. Luther asks why Eve thinks she will be one who goes. Eve says she is not fit for her now. She says a little girl needs love and understanding, and she hopes that Jane will do that. Luther asks to speak to Jane. She says good morning and that she came out with Bonnie.

            She says that Bonnie and her mother were playing ball in the backyard. Bonnie says the ball went under the house. Eve says she will get it and crawls under the house. She says a strange thing happened under there. She felt she was a little girl there.

            Luther asks if she can remember anything about her childhood. Jane says no. Luther asks to speak to Mrs. White. He tells her what Jane told him and asks her about being under the house when she was a child. She shakes her head. He asks about when she was about six. He hypnotizes her again. She goes under, and he asks her to think back when she was five playing under the house. He says now she is six and asks if she remembers going under the house when something happened. She gets upset and demands her blue, china cup. She says she does not want to and screams for her momma not to make her. She wakes up as Eve Black and asks what he was doing to her. Luther says if she remembered what happened under the house. He asks why she came out now. Eve says she is not having much fun anymore. She asks if Jane is doing that to her. She wants to know more about Jane. Eve liked it the way it was before when she knew about Eve White who did not know about her. Eve asks if he likes Jane. Luther says yes. Eve asks if he would go out with her. He says it is against the rules for a doctor to go out with a patient. Eve does not like Jane telling him about what she does. She asks if he remembers the low-cut dress and says she wants him to have it if anything happens. Eve says something is the matter. She asks if they will ever get well. She thinks they are all going to die. She cries, and he says it is the first time. She says he was the first one ever to know her. She wants him to have the dress. He says he cares about her and asks to speak to Jane. Eve says goodbye. He talks to Jane and asks what Eve meant. He asks if she remembers the blue, china cup. She says no. He says Mrs. White, and she starts crying hysterically. He talks to Jane, and she says she made her kiss her.

            Little Evie is under the house with a friend when her mother calls her to go in and kiss her grandmother goodbye. She carries her into the house. Evie pleads not to make her do it and cries. The mother makes her kiss the corpse.

            Eve says she did not mean anything wrong by it. Luther asks if she thinks about death now. Eve quotes a poem about life and death. He asks where she learned it, and she says her English teacher. He asks who was her first teacher. Eve remembers her teachers in the first four grades and when they moved and where they lived. She happily remembers their neighbors and her cousin Florence. Luther asks to speak to Mrs. White. She asks if he has to, and she says she is gone. He calls Eve Black, and she says they both are gone. She says there is no one else there but her, and she can remember everything.

            Cooke says that was in the fall of 1953. Two years later Dr. Luther received an airmail letter. She is in a car with Earl and Bonnie going home together.

            This psychological drama explores the complexity of human personality when it becomes dissociated. A patient and understanding doctor is able to assist her in coming to know the two contrasting parts of herself, and she comes to realize her deeper self that is healthy.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index