The Three Faces of Eve is a 1957 American mystery drama film presented in CinemaScope, 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 (multiple personality disorder). Sizemore's identity was concealed in interviews and this film, and was not revealed to the public until 1975. The film is directed by Nunnally Johnson.
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 since 1936 to win the Best Actress award without getting nominated in another category after Bette Davis won for Dangerous.
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. Eve White is sent to a hospital for observation after Eve Black tries to kill Eve White's daughter, Bonnie. When Eve is released, her husband finds a job in another state and leaves her in a boarding house, while Bonnie lives with Eve's parents. When Eve White's husband returns, he tells her that he doesn't believe she has multiple personalities and tries to take her back to Jacksonville, Florida with him but she feels she isn't well enough to leave and is afraid Eve Black will try to harm Bonnie again and refuses to go. The stress of the situation causes Eve Black to assert and she confronts Eve White's husband at his hotel where he not only realizes Eve Black is real, but also she convinces him to take her to Jacksonville. When Eve Black goes out dancing with another man, Ralph slaps her when she returns to the hotel and ends up divorcing Eve White.
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. Under hypnosis at one session, a third personality manifests, the relatively stable Jane. 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.
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.Joanne Woodward as Eve White / Eve Black / Jane
Mimi Gibson as Eve - Age 8
David Wayne as Ralph White
Lee J. Cobb as Doctor Curtis Luther
Edwin Jerome as Doctor Francis Day
Alena Murray as Secretary
Nancy Kulp as Mrs. Black
Douglas Spencer as Mr. Black
Terry Ann Ross as Bonnie White
Ken Scott as Earl
Vince Edwards (uncredited) soldier hitting on Eve Black in club
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.
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 also wrote a follow-up book, A Mind Of My Own (1989).
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.