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 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
Bette Davis found doing the scene in which the adult Jane sings her maudlin childhood signature song, "I've Written a Letter to Daddy," particularly memorable. "The old Jane gazing in the mirror from about twelve feet away looks pretty good," described Davis. "Then she walks forward. Ernie [the cameraman] had a high light, straight down, which is always bad for a woman. Especially me. When Jane finally gets up to the mirror, she sees herself as this decrepit, old hag, when in her mind, she's still young. I covered my face with my hands. [Robert Aldrich] had wanted a loud scream, but what came out was a hoarse cry - I'd been having laryngitis. It was right and we both knew it. [Aldrich] had tears in his eyes. 'You just won yourself an Oscar®,' he whispered. I went home that night singing, 'And the Angels Sing.'" See more »
Jane's newspaper ad only gives the phone number. When she makes the appointment with Edwin she never mentions an address but he shows up anyway. See more »
[after divulging the 'accident' involving the Hudson sisters]
So the fine woman you've chosen to run around with turns out to be broke and a murderer as well!
Well, it's true!
All right then, if it's true I'll ask her about it when I see her again. How's that?
You wouldn't see a woman like that again!
Why not, you just told me she's got a rich sister.
Yeah, but there's the worst of it yet!
You mean there's more?
Yes, there is. After she run down her sister, your precious ...
[...] See more »
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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