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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
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203 out of 269 people found the following review useful:

Disturbing, because it's real

Author: Robert Glass from Los Angeles
23 December 2003

Interesting, to see comments dismissing WEHTBJ? as a "gay" film, or "cult" film, etc.

As a writer/producer who lived and worked in Hollywood for 30 years, I submit that those comments represent a "denial syndrome" of people who are ignorant of the facts of Hollywood.

What is so "horrifying" about WEHTBJ? is that the film is an utterly realistic psychodrama about two specific sisters of that era.

It's easy to say that Bette Davis' performance/makeup was "over the top," except that they weren't. In fact, I thought her look was taken from a sad "street person" in Hollywood who, in her seventies, walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard in a pink ball-gown and dead blonde wig and thick makeup, speaking into a transistor radio she held to her ear -- in the 60s, long before cell phones -- "talking" to the FBI about people chasing her.

Perhaps those who've spent their lives elsewhere, other than in Hollywood, feel that the characters in WEHTBJ? are "over the top." But they're not.

That's what makes them so heartbreaking. And the incredibly brave performances by Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Victor Bono and the rest -- not to mention the script and Robert Aldrich's direction -- make this simply the most definitive "Hollywood" psycho-thriller since "Sunset Boulevard."

There's "A Star Is Born," in any of its incarnations. Which is also "true" in its (their) way.

And there is "Sunset Boulevard" and "Baby Jane," which are even more true, and more brilliantly made.

These are not "horror films." They are riveting psychological studies, cast with astonishing actors, and magnificently directed and photographed.

They are the equivalent of Hitchcock's "Psycho," IMHO, which was preceeded by "Sunset Boulevard" and followed by "Baby Jane."

Each different, each brilliant, each marked by some of the most indelible performances ever captured on film.

It's typical of adolescents to make a "joke" about things that make them uncomfortable.

But when experience and age acquaint one with people like Baby Jane and Norma Desmond and, yes, Norman Bates, what's the point of joking?

These three films will tell those characters' stories forever, and better than 99% of films ever made.

That's why they're classics.

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73 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

A compelling movie; Davis and Crawford tear each other apart

10/10
Author: LoneWolfAndCub from Australia
21 June 2006

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? might seem dated, but it is still an extremely riveting watch. I literally could not look away, as soon as the movie started, I couldn't stop until it had finished. Not a lot of movies can do that to me. The acting is extremely good, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are just so good as the main focus of the movie. The chilling score is suits the movie and the camera-work reminds me a lot of Hitchcock.

The story focuses on two sisters, Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) who was crippled in an accident awhile ago and "Baby" Jane Hudson (Bette Davis). Jane used to be a big child star, she even had a doll brand after her. Now, though, she is no longer recognised while her sister has recently become very famous. They live in an old mansion, with Blanche confined to her room upstairs while Jane gets madder and more cruel by the day.

Bette Davis gives the star performance here, some may call it over-acting but it is far from. She really makes Jane as mad, cruel and sad as possible. Joan Crawford is equally good in a very different role. She is much more timid then Jane and quite scared. The supporting cast are all good as well, especially Victor Buono as Victor Flagg, an odd pianist that befriends Jane. The black and white really are used to full effect, they make the mansion look extra creepy. Robert Aldrich's direction is fine.

To today's modern audience, this may seem boring as it does not have any action. Most of the movie is dialogue, but I do urge those who haven't seen it to do so, as it is a truly excellent movie.

A solid 5/5!

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49 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

The Movie Was Excellent

8/10
Author: ijahra-1 from Trinidad and Tobago
1 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie was suspenseful to the end and the musical score was awesome. I only disagreed with Henry Flagg's role, and he was such a wimp! It was great to see two '30- '50s Divas in one film, especially Joan Crawford's duplicitous role as a wronged sister. Bette Davis was truly deranged by the alcohol and the light switch personality changes was a joy to see. I especially loved the facial changes between the regression to the childlike Baby Jane and the hatred-driven character who was destined to take care of a sister more successful than her in adulthood. It may be a slow development of a story by today's standards, but the pace was good for me. I was intrigued to the end and suspected nothing like the final outcome.

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53 out of 71 people found the following review useful:

Sibling Rivalry Between Hollywood's Leading Ladies -- At A Macabre Level.

9/10
Author: Robert_Lovelace from New York, NY, United States
4 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"What Ever Happened To Baby Jane" is a tense horror film, yet it seems almost comical at the same time. The story is about Baby Jane Hudson, a former child Vaudeville star who has now grown older and been shyed away from the spotlight and attention that she so dearly loved. Baby Jane has a sister, Blanche, who is now crippled and restrained to a wheelchair. But before becoming immobile, Blanche was once a movie queen herself, and she incidentally pushed her sister out of the spotlight, which ignited extreme jealousy from Baby Jane.

Now, Baby Jane spends most of her time in a crumbling Hollywood mansion, taking care of her sister. She plays mean and dirty tricks on her, even going as far as to preparing Blanche a dead rat on her lunch platter and brutally beating her when she tries to phone for help, keeping Blanche contained within the walls of their home. Baby Jane lives in a world of false hope, thinking that she may be able to reprise her childhood career, putting on makeup and keeping her curly hair intact. But Baby Jane's continued jealousy burns on as Blanche's popular films are re-run on television, and her violent, twisted, and abusive side begins to come forth.

The entire film surrounds the two sisters as they fight back and forth, doing horrible things to each other. It's like a grown-up case of sibling rivalry between two of Hollywood's leading women, that turns out to be very well crafted and interesting to watch. Both Davis and Crawford, Hollywood legends, give top quality performances and bring depth and dimension to the characters of Baby Jane and Blanche. Granted, there is no shock value in this film anymore because it has become so dated, but it is still worth the while to watch because of how interesting it is to watch both actresses interact with one another. Davis plays the mad Jane with perfect mannerisms and eerie hysterical expressions as she torments her sister, costumed in ghostly white, caked makeup and golden curls in her hair.

It is kind of ironic because it has been speculated that Davis and Crawford really despised each other behind camera, they were both major award winners with legendary status in cinema, practically rivals themselves, which could have played into the way they treated each other in the film... or maybe not? I'd say it was very likely though. To sum it up this review, "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane" is a dated but exceptionally-crafted thriller. Modern day audiences will not be frightened, but the film itself was very, very well done. 9/10.

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34 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

You didn't eat your dindin, Blanche

Author: Donald Casey from Saint John, New Brunswick
17 October 2003

I have seen this movie at least two dozen times, and I will see it at least that many times again. It's such a Bette Davis feast. Of course, she was nominated for an Oscar. And she should have won it! There was a lot of 'history' between Miss Davis and Miss Crawford going way back to the 1940s, when Crawford was let go from M-G-M and went to work at WB where Bette Davis was Queen of the lot. The stories behind the making of the film are as interesting as the movie, with Miss Crawford demanding the set be kept at a breezy 55 (but preservative) degrees causing all kinds of problems with Miss Davis's bronchitis. One only wonders how much 'acting' was involved as Miss Davis tortures Miss Crawford emotionally and, later, physically. Miss Crawford suffers grandly and has her mandatory telephone scene, big eyes tremulous with fear. She is great, but it is a Bette Davis tour-de-force and she wipes every other actor off the screen. Full 10 of 10 for this one, and recommended to everyone who wants to see what the great actresses of the 1930s and 1940s could and would still do, albeit in minor-A productions, as the requests for their services dwindled, but wanted to keep on working.

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30 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Impressive Thriller

8/10
Author: ragosaal from Argentina
10 October 2006

"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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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Somehow, this is indeed compelling.

8/10
Author: Lawrence Griffin from United States
29 March 2008

I don't think I walked into this one with the right set of expectations. I expected a low-fi, creepy bit of occult-tinted fun from an age before horror films were bloated, over-done sacks of crap, and what I got was much different. I wouldn't really say this is a straight horror movie like Psycho or The Birds, as it unfolds itself like a riveting drama of two sisters instead. The acting is phenomenal, though, at least from our two lead characters, and the way they play off each other is just fantastic. This one takes a while to get going, but once it does, you are in for a high-octane, creepy thrill ride. Recommended to fans of older horror/suspense type movies.

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60 out of 103 people found the following review useful:

But ya are Blanche!

Author: MickeyTo from Toronto, Canada
23 October 1999

I recently viewed this film with a friend who had never seen it before. Much to my surprise, we had to turn it off early because this friend actually found Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? boring.

I'll admit that Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is a dated piece of work. By today's standards, there is no shock value. The actresses are not well known by the younger crowds out there. There is a lot of dialogue and very little action. It simply doesn't fit in with today's expectations of horror and suspense. So why does it hold up as a great film, at least by my standards and by the standards of so many others?

To truly appreciate this film, it would be necessary to understand the background. What actually contributed to the making of this film is what I find truly fascinating.

The story itself is about two elderly sisters. One, Baby Jane, (played by Bette Davis) was a child star in the early part of the century. She was hugely popular on the vaudeville circuit. Backstage she was a spoiled brat. Later on in life the other sister, Blanche (played by Joan Crawford) became a popular Hollywood movie star, overshadowing her now 'has-been' sister. A supposed car accident leaves Blanche crippled during the height of her popularity and a crazed Jane is left to care for her.

In their later life Blanche is confined to her bedroom and Jane, still donning the make up and curls from her childhood runs the house. Jane still believes she can resurect her career, but is tormented by her sisters continued popularity as her films are rerun on television.

There are some fabulous lines throughout the movie that have become legendary. Blanche says, "You couldn't do this to me if I wasn't in this wheel chair.' Jane quips "But ya are Blanche, but ya are."

Davis plays Jane to the hilt, looking hysterically eerie as she tortures Crawford's stoic Blanche. My kid sister saw this film after seeing Mommie Dearest and aptly stated that this was just dessert for a woman who beat her children so badly. I think my sister was most impressed when Davis kicks Joan in the stomach. "Take that Mommie Dearest!"

Back to my original point, I believe that in order to truly appreciate this story, one must appreciate the behind-the-scenes legend that truly is the essence of this film. Davis and Crawford were, and are, two of the most formidable actresses in Hollywood. Between them there are hundreds of films, three Oscars, and countless tidbits of gossip. Both had to claw and chew their way to the top, and had to fight harder to stay there. They both had stormy relationships, and bitter feuds with studio bosses and directors. And both have a legion of fans that have survived long after they did. And of course, lets not forget the fact that they may have despised each other.

There is a fantastic book called Bette and Joan (I can't recall the author's name) that I recommend any novice viewer read prior to viewing this film. In it, the lives of these two remarkable women are described in gossipy detail. A lot of time is spent detailing the making of this film. At the time Joan was pushing her husbands company, Pepsi. It was rumored, perhaps by Bette that her Pepsi bottles were half filled with vodka. Bette also complains vehemently about the size of Joan's fake cleavage, and how they got in the way of some of those scenes. It's even suggested that some of those beatings that Joan took from Bette were real.

With all of this background, one might soon appreciate, as I did, the importance of this film in documenting the lives of these two prominent women. I don't think we'll ever come so close to true Hollywood Babylon as we will with this brilliant work.

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19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

When Davis and Crawford worked together

9/10
Author: Petri Pelkonen (petri_pelkonen@hotmail.com) from Finland
10 December 2008

Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were the biggest rivals during the golden age of Hollywood.This is their only collaboration.In the beginning of the movie we're at 1917, where the six-year old Baby Jane Hudson (Davis) is a successful Vaudeville performer.Then we move to 1935 where her sister Blanche (Crawford) becomes paralyzed in an automobile accident for which Jane is held responsible.In the present-day of the film we see Blanche being kept as a prisoner upstairs of their mansion by the sadistic Jane.Robert Aldrich' What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) is a terrific psychological thriller with some black comedy.The leading ladies are truly magnificent.Bette Davis was born a hundred years ago in 1908 and died in 1989.She could play all kind of roles and make the characters memorable.Baby Jane Hudson is that kind of a role.Joan Crawford lived from 1905 to 1977 and started making pictures during the silent era.Her Blanche Hudson is vulnerable and that's why we like her that much.A fine performance is given by Victor Buono who plays the shiftless musician Victor Flagg.Maidie Norman plays Elvira Stitt.Michael Fox, who the soap opera fans remember from The Bold and the Beautiful plays Motorcycle cop.This movie is a classic.

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24 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

One of the great movies about the movies

10/10
Author: Martin Bradley (MOscarbradley@aol.com) from Derry, Ireland
3 July 2006

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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