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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?


Robert Aldrich, a director primarily known for making macho action films and working with male actors, had one of his greatest triumphs as a director working with two of the greatest actresses to ever grace the silver screen in the 1962 classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

This bizarre and macabre absurdist vision stars the legendary Bette Davis as Baby Jane Hudson, a former child star who still has dreams of reviving a career that ended decades ago, but until then, she spends the majority of her time torturing her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford), also a former actress, who is now confined to a wheelchair. Just as Jane's menacing of her sister has reached a fever pitch, she encounters a third-rate musician named Edwin Flagg (Victor Buono)who Jane petitions to help her get her career going again and decides that with her career on the fast track again, decides she must eliminate Blanche once and for all.

This film is fascinating as we finally got to watch two legendary actresses, who had never worked together before and allegedly couldn't stand each other IRL, work together for the first time and legend has it that the ladies did not get along at all during filming, but if that's true, it only worked to the film's advantage, as the characters they play are enemies, sisters, but enemies nonetheless and if these two screen icons really hated each other, they were professional enough to make this bizarre story one of the most entertaining films of 1962.

Bette Davis received her tenth Oscar nomination for her performance as Jane, a performance so off-the-wall and over the top that you can't help but be alternately terrified and amused by her. Davis pulled out all the stops to make this insane character work. Joan Crawford was also nominated for an equally effective performance in the less showy role as Blanche. Crawford infuses so much internal pain into the character of Blanche but never allows Blanche's character to fade into the woodwork opposite the outrageous Jane.

Watching these two cinema legends work together was a such pleasure, especially under the guidance of a skilled director like Robert Aldrich. You can't help but be in awe in watching these two work together and be reminded of everything they have done for the art of cinema, especially when both Jane and Blanche are observed watching film clips of Davis and Crawford in some of their earlier work. The black and white photography is also very effective, adding even more creepiness to the bizarre proceedings. The film was remade for TV about 30 years later with Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave, but this is definitely a case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." 8/10