"Christ, I still have nightmares about it."~Joan Crawford on
"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"
"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" 1962
Cast: Bette Davis~Joan Crawford~Victor Buono~Marjorie Bennett~Maidie Norman~Anna Lee~Julie Allred~Barbara Merrill~Dave
Willock~Gina Gillespie~Ann Barton.
Director & Producer: Robert Aldrich
Costumes by Norma Koch
Box Office Figures for "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?":
Top Grossing Film Position: Ranked #12!!
Gross Rentals: $15,000,000!!!
If you have seen this movie, please write a review below. Once your review is submitted, I will post the review below.
Thank you for your review on this film.
Review: The notorious rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis came to a cinematic head in this 1962 thriller directed
by Robert Aldrich. Aldrich had previously worked with Crawford in 1956's "Autumn Leaves" and would go on to work
with Bette Davis again in 1964's "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte." If not for the clash of titans alone, the film
is regarded as a classic and still enjoys a cult following over 45 years after its release.
Baby Jane Hudson was a phenomenon. As a young girl, her singing and dancing captivated audiences and made her an instant
star. She demanded attention from everyone and blatantly expressed her displeasure when the smallest whim went unfulfilled.
Her sister Blanche was forced to watch, all the while unhappy with her own lot in life as the less-popular sibling and vowed
to get even. As the two girls got older, Blanche had become a famous movie star, much more revered than Jane who was stuck
playing minor roles. It seemed as though they'd become the opposite representations of their younger selves. Annoyed with
her personal fall from grace, Jane (Bette Davis) intentionally drives her car into Blanche (Joan Crawford) and cripples her.
Years later, now confined to a wheelchair, Blanche is completely dependent upon Jane for her most basic needs. Both women
are no longer in show business, though Jane believes it's only a matter of time before she'll hit the stage once again.
Blanche spends her days holed up in her bedroom while Jane slops around the house in a bathrobe. Jane hates having to
be a caretaker. She continually belittles her soft-spoken sister and makes cruel remarks with the intention of hurting her
feelings. Jane's mean streak hits a new high when Blanche's old blockbuster films are shown on television for a week straight.
A neighbor stops by hoping to meet Blanche in person, but Jane remarks that her sister is unfit to receive visitors. In her
twisted opinion, Jane holds Blanche accountable for ruining her career. Blanche is a virtual hostage. Her only contact with
the outside world is her maid Elvira (Maidie Norman). Elvira notices Jane's evil ways and tries to protect Blanche in any
way she can, but isn't around often enough to make a significant difference. Things begin to escalate when Jane takes Blanche's
birdcage out to clean it, only to return claiming that the bird flew out the window. When Blanche is served lunch later in
the day, there is a horrific and unexpected main course. Jane's mind games continue when she remarks that rats have infiltrated
the basement. Blanche's next platter is again dreadful and she becomes afraid to eat anything Jane serves. As she withers
away physically, Jane withers away mentally, focusing on ways to revive her faded career. She is certain that everyone in
town remembers her as "Baby Jane", but no one does. To generate interest, she runs an advertisement in the newspaper
to find a pianist.
Jane soon receives a call from Edwin Flagg (Victor Buono), a struggling musician looking for an easy buck. They set an
appointment to discuss a musical partnership, which sends Jane into a euphoric whirlwind. When Edwin arrives, Jane launches
into her plans for a routine. Not surprisingly, the material is comprised of the same tired songs from her adolescent hey-day.
She belts out her signature tune "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" in an ear-shattering, nails-across-the-chalkboard
screech. Edwin's subtle expressions allude to the fact that Jane simply can't sing. But in order to keep the job, he applauds
her "talent". When Elvira shows up on one of her scheduled workdays, Jane tells her that she's no longer needed.
Suspecting that something is amiss, Elvira waits until Jane is out of sight and goes upstairs to find Blanche's door locked.
She tries to remove the bolts from the door in order to open it but Jane suddenly appears, at which time Elvira demands the
key. Reluctant, Jane initially refuses but hands it over. When Elvira opens the door to find a malnourished Blanche tied up
on the bed, her shock is short-lived. Jane hits her with a hammer and kills her. Edwin shows up at the house again and receives
no response. He storms off angrily, only to return later after a few drinks. This time, Jane answers the door. Right away,
a noise from upstairs catches Edwin's attention and he goes up to Blanche's room to find her bound and gagged. Horrified,
he runs out of house. Jane, believing that the police will soon arrive, runs upstairs and drags Blanche out of bed. The two
sisters drive through the city and end up at the beach. The shocking truth about Blanche's handicap comes to light on the
beach, paving the way for an eerie conclusion.
"What Ever Happened To Baby Jane" was based on Henry Farrell's novel of the same name. Bette Davis was nominated
for an Academy Award for her performance. However, Joan Crawford wasn't nominated, causing a great deal of dissatisfaction
with fans and film lovers alike. Many believe that both women deserved a nomination, as their combined talents made the film
as great as it was. Nevertheless, Crawford had her own plans in mind. Prior to the 1962 Academy Awards, she worked out an
agreement with the other actresses nominated in the same category, stating that if any of them were to win and couldn't attend,
she would accept the award on their behalf. Low and behold, Bette Davis did not win the Oscar; Anne Bancroft won for her performance
in "The Miracle Worker" and Joan took the stage to accept the award. It was a major slap in the face to Davis, who
sat watching from her seat in the audience. Both Crawford and Davis were extremely gifted actresses who may have disliked
each other's star power. It's likely that their real-life feud powered the emotion behind this film. Had they relied on acting
alone, the result would still be a classic. But the genuine contempt made for a harder punch. An interesting bit of trivia:
the young girl next door, who plays the daughter of the inquiring neighbor, was portrayed by Bette Davis' real-life daughter
Warner Bros. released "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" in 2006 as a two-disc special edition. The first disc
includes the film, theatrical trailer and an Audio Commentary by Charles Busch and John Epperson. The two female impersonators
chat about their love for the film in a comedic way, though very genuine. The second disc is busting with extras, including:
Bonus Footage - Andy Williams Show - Excerpt Featuring Bette Davis Singing; 3 documentaries: Bette and Joan - Blind Ambition,
All About Bette (Hosted by Jodie Foster) and A Film Profile - Joan Crawford. Additionally we're treated to a featurette entitled
Behind the Scenes with Baby Jane. Though short, the featurette is a nice glimpse into the technique of director Robert Aldrich.
Talent. Real talent. This film is a moving textbook that all actors and actresses should be required to watch. There isn't
a CGI safety net or a million expletives to camouflage a weak script. This is raw emotion at its finest. Despite the fact
that they may not have enjoyed working together, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis gave the world 134 minutes of timeless Hollywood
cinema. What ever happened to films like this?
Stars: Four Stars
Review: In the 1960's, American cinema introduced a unique series of fright features that came to be known as "The
Hag Movies." Many fading female stars restored their luster with these luridly exciting tales of terror and suspense.
It all started in 1961 when Bette Davis was appearing in the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' play THE NIGHT OF
THE IGUANA. After one of the performances concluded, Davis returned to her dressing room only to find an unexpected visitor
waiting: Joan Crawford, her rival at Warner Brothers during the 1940's. Crawford asked Davis to read the novel WHAT EVER HAPPENED
TO BABY JANE? by Henry Farrell, certain that it would make a fine vehicle for their acting talents. The film careers of Bette
Davis and Joan Crawford had been declining for some time, and the aging actresses desperately needed a box-office smash to
survive in the motion picture industry. Davis read BABY JANE and agreed that it had movie potential. Director Robert Aldrich
was willing to take on the project, but finding financial support would not be a simple task since Bette Davis and Joan Crawford
were both considered over the hill. Every time Aldrich tried to get money for his production, he heard the same response:
"We wouldn't give you a dime for those two old broads." Aldrich finally decided to produce the picture himself and
release it through Warner Brothers. As it turned out, his youth-challenged leading ladies were worth millions. Audiences asked
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? in droves, making this incredibly tense and highly charged psychological thriller a blockbuster
hit. The movie's enormous popularity put Davis and Crawford back on top, albeit as a pair of horror harridans, but at least
their careers were back in motion. It also convinced other older celluloid dames to give the horror genre a try.
The film begins in 1917 when Jane Hudson is a phenomenally successful young star of vaudeville. On stage, Jane is a harmless-looking
little girl who wins the audience over with her beautiful smile, pleasant singing voice, and remarkably sweet demeanor. Off
stage, however, she reveals her true self - a monumental brat who enjoys making life a living hell for her parents and sister.
By 1935, Jane and her sister Blanche have both become screen stars, but Blanche is the famous and glamorous one. Unfortunately,
a brutal auto accident leaves Blanche crippled and destroys her great career. It is widely held that the accident was caused
by an intoxicated Jane. We move forward to 1962: Jane grudginly looks after wheelchair-ridden Blanche in their decaying Hollywood
home. With the advent of television, Blanche's old pictures have found new life, while Jane's continue to rest in obscurity.
Consumed by jealousy and hatred, Jane launches a ghastly campaign of terror against Blanche. Convinced that her days are numbered
if she remains in the house with her twisted sister, Blanche tries to get away, but all avenues of escape have been cut off.
She is at the mercy of the increasingly insane and sadistic Jane.
Bette Davis received her tenth and final Academy Award nomination for playing the tyrannical title character. Joan Crawford's
portrayal of the terrorized Blanche was overlooked by the Motion Picture Academy, but it's extremely effective nevertheless.
Naturally, Robert Aldrich had his hands full directing a pair of divas. Davis pissed and moaned to Aldrich about Crawford's
drinking and padded brassieres. Davis's foot made contact with Crawford's head during a scene where Jane kicks Blanche around
the living room. Crawford got even by putting weights in her robe for a scene where Davis had to drag her across the floor,
and Davis strained her back. Whatever the set dynamics were, the end result is a couple of stunning performances from Miss
Davis and Miss Crawford.
Stars: 5 stars
Review: This movie is absolutely brilliant 2 amazing co-stars and, I have to say, the best movie ever made. It has a
great all star cast, Miss Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson and Miss Crawford as Blanche Hudson. This movie has a great stroy
to it and I really love this movie. This has to be in my top 10 Crawford movies of all time. This movie is for both fans of
Bette or Joan. It is a must see if you haven't already seen it.