what ever happened to baby jane? (1962)
A former movie actress (Joan Crawford), crippled into retirement years before, lives in isolation with her sister and ex-child star “Baby Jane” (Bette Davis). But, “baby jane” is more than a bit unhinged…..
Robert Aldrich’s sinister horror drama is at times quite difficult to watch – not because it is bad – but because Davis is truly terrifying as the hideous child-star, “baby jane”. The vitriol, jealousy and hate in her performance, seems to owe more than a nod to her personal and bitter dislike of co-star Crawford. You simply could not have picked two hollywood actresses better placed to play these roles.
The movie is littered with, frankly, some spectacular camera shots – the mansion in which they live seems to increasingly resemble a haunted house as the film progresses – and the costume designers surely deserve a round of applause for Bette Davis’s excellent outfit and make-up, which transform her into a sour-faced devil child entombed in a body battered with malice and booze.
One of the most interesting scenes involves the awful “baby jane” impersonating her sister’s voice on the telephone – the crazed look on Davis’s face as she does this is priceless – and stayed with me for some time afterward. So, too, did the famous line which Davis utters to nearly everyone she encounters: “You may remember me….I’m Baby Jane Hudson”. Of course, no one does remember…..which only serves to puzzle and confuse her decaying mind.
Victor Buono (who most will know as “King Tut” from the 1960s Batman series) puts in a good performance as a musician who attempts to con “Baby Jane” out of a few dollars, only to be shocked into silence when he finds out what “baby jane” has been doing to her elder sibling.
The final scenes on the beach are remarkable and as the camera swoops back, Davis’s little dance amongst the crowds is one of the most creepy things I have seen on celluloid.
Some people may find this film a bit dated and boring. It’s not full of action but it is a great character study with 2 excellent leads. Persevere and you won’t be disappointed. There is a neat little twist at the end of the movie which makes the viewer re-evaluate the vile “baby jane” after all….
hotdog rating: 8.5/10