The working class twin sister of a callous wealthy woman impulsively murders her out of revenge and assumes the identity of the dead woman. But impersonating her dead twin is more complicated and risky than she anticipated.
In a tale that almost redefines sibling rivalry, faded actresses Blanche and 'Baby' Jane Hudson live together. Jane was by far the most famous when she performed with their father in vaudeville but as they got older, it was Blanche who became the finer actress, which Jane still resents. Blanche is now confined to a wheelchair - Jane ran her over with the car while drunk, even though she has no memory of it - and Jane is firmly in control. As time goes by, Jane exercises greater and greater control over her sister, intercepting her letters and ensuring that few if anyone from the outside has any contact with her. As Jane slowly loses her mind, she torments her sister going to ever greater extremes. Written by
One of the great movies about the movies, (and great movies about the movies aren't reverential, they bite the hand that feeds them), and the best of Aldrich's 'women's pictures'. Detractors see it as a misogynist load of horse manure about a couple of self-loathing sisters hauled up together in a decaying Hollywood mansion, a too-close-to-home study of the real life rivalry between stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford or even as a veiled study of homosexual self-depreciation with the sisters as ageing drag queens. But these are the very things that make the picture great. It is precisely because it can be read in this way that makes it such a perversely enjoyable, subversive piece of work.
As the sisters, Davis and Crawford pull all the stops out and then some. What makes Crawford's performance great is that she is never sympathetic even when Davis is feeding her dead rat or quite literally kicking her when she's down, while Davis is simply astonishing. With her face painted like a hideous Kabuki mask and dressed up like a doll that's filled with maggots it's an unashamedly naked piece of acting, as revealing as her work in "All About Eve" and almost as good. Unfortunately the film's commercial success lead both actresses into a downward spiral of not dissimilar but considerably lack-lustre material. But this bitch-fest is the real McCoy.
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