Saturday, April 2, 2016

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) was a child star who's career faltered as she entered adulthood. Overlooked sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) became the toast of Hollywood. At the height of her career Blanche is paralyzed in an accident and both sisters fade from memory. Old and forgotten, the two sisters live together. Blanche in a wheel chair, and Jane bitter and drunk.

How these two huge stars from the 30's and 40's, who hated each other in real life, were convinced to appear together in this unconventional horror/thriller is a mystery. And that it worked so well is downright amazing. Davis as Jane, looking ten years older than her 54ish years of age, is totally unhinged. You do not doubt for one moment the pent up hatred she feels, and the depravity she reached. As events unfold we learn more of their complicated relationship.

How well did they get along? Davis had a Coke machine put on the set because Crawford was married to the chairman of Pepsi. When Davis was nominated for an Oscar, Crawford campaigned against her. When Anne Bancroft won, Joan accepted it on her behalf. This natural animosity had to help with their onscreen chemistry.

I've been mostly underwhelmed by the performances I've seen from both women (excepting All About Eve), but they were terrific. The whole movie, front to back, is terrific. What I gave you above is just the setup to where the story begins. I don't dare spoil the story that unfolds. It's taught, thrilling, and amazing. Look for an appearance by King Tut. AMRU 4.5.
"Oh, Blanche? You know we've got rats in the cellar?"

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