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
In addition to her trademark number "I've Written a Letter to Daddy", the young Baby Jane apparently had other hit songs in her act. When Edwin prepares to play the piano for their rehearsal, we see Jane's picture featured on old sheet music for songs entitled "Fly the Flag of Freedom", "She's Somebody's Little Girl", and "I Wouldn't Trade My Daddy". See more »
When Blanche is on the telephone after she has made her way down the railing (and right before Jane shuts the door, causing Blanche to realize that she has returned) her right leg moves, obviously voluntarily. See more »
It's just that nosy Mrs. Bates going on about your picture last night.
Oh, really, did she like it?
[imitating Blanche's voice]
Oh, really, did she like it?... She liked it!
See more »
"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" is a most unusual and impressive thriller. Director Robert Aldrich achieves a fantastic sordid and dark atmosphere at the Huadson sisters mansion -where most of the action takes place- with an unusual black and white shooting for the early 60's. An interesting story, a well delivered screenplay and an accurate musical score also rise the film high.
But the main credit of the picture is casting together to real big names in Hollywood's history, not at their peak then but always reliable and attractive to see. Bette Davis (Jane) takes the most interesting character as the former child star that couldn't make it as an adult in show business so she has gone insane and keeps behaving as the spoiled child he was. She looks grotesque and ridiculous in her child outfits, hairdo and heavy make up. Davis is outstanding in her role and looks really mean when she tortures both mentally and physically her sister Blanche, delicate and reasonable. Joan Crawford plays Blanche and very well too, a former big star whose career ended after a strange car accident that put her on a wheel chair for life.
In the end things are not completely as they seem but the final twist is not what makes this film an extremely good one; it's the strange relationship between the sisters, that requires of that final twist to understand Blanche's tolerant conduct towards her sister.
The movie is perhaps a little too long and it would probably have been even better with a 10 minutes cut. But no doubt this is a top product in its genre and a great movie indeed.
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