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Astonished, you will be completely astonished after watching "What ever happened to Baby Jane". It's definitely a masterpiece. No doubt! And if you think this movie has been shoot in 1962, 56 years ago, with no special effects, just black and white and 2 wonderful actresses, well, this will make you appreciate this movie even more. It's a splendid analysis of the human psyche, described wonderfully. Bette Davis is absolutely amazing, no doubt she won an academy award nomination, it's probably the best performance of her carrier. And the end will leave you completely astonished, and will make you think how dangerous and complicated the human psyche is. A must see!
I never quite knew what to make of this movie. Was it horror? Camp?
Comedy? Noir? I just couldn't make sense of it, and so I dismissed it
as something of a joke, as many people did at the time, and a BAD joke
Well I just saw it again this morning and I was astonished by how good this movie is. It is gorgeously made, in spite of a limited budget and a fast shooting schedule, masterfully edited and shot, every detail of set design, costume and makeup just exactly right, gorgeously acted by every single person in it, with perhaps the exception of Davis' daughter, BD Merrill (now known as BD Hyman, "Christian" teacher) who is excruciatingly bad in her tiny role. Everyone else is spot on, blazingly, terrifyingly honest and truthful in every single scene, even Crawford, who could be awfully phony sometimes. Davis's performance is a miraculous tour de force, brilliant in its technical mastery, acting with her entire body (she DID study dance with Martha Graham after all!), her face, her eyes, her voice, her hands, always true to the character and the moment, but still playing with a sense of style, which is the character's but also is the actor's. I don't think there's anyone now who could pull off something like this. Actors today lack the technique to do it, most of them.
It's all done so well, with such utter seriousness of purpose by everyone involved, that I still didn't quite get why! One comment here, by one Robert Glass, explains it for me. These people were making an honest film about the Hollywood they knew, about PEOPLE they knew, about what that crazy level of fame does to the people who have it and the people who crave it. They were all of them familiar with this scene, they all knew people who had sunk into it or crawled their way out of it. This accounts for the almost documentary-style photography, with no cheating, no gauze filters or flattering lights. This accounts for cinematographer Ernie Haller, Bette's favorite, following her around for days with his camera, sometimes in the back seat, as she tooled around Los Angeles as Baby Jane in that gorgeous 1940 Lincoln convertible, in full "Jane Hudson" makeup and costume, just right for the character as written. Davis said, "She's the kind of woman who doesn't wash her face, she just puts on another layer of makeup!" And you know her through Davis' compassionate interpretation, and know why she is the way she is.
Davis had looked at some of this before, giving a good, unflinching performance in "The Star" ten years before, but not as deeply and in not as good a film. Crawford had never done anything quite like this and she doesn't come across as honest with herself or as insightful as Davis does, though she is pretty honest (for Crawford) in the way she dresses and looks the part.
But everyone else matches Davis's honesty, shot for shot and line for line and approaches this with the same utter seriousness. And now I know why.
I'd suggest to everyone that they look at this picture again with all of this in mind. There was a reason, beyond the surface chills and thrills, why this picture was such a hit in 1962.
This movie is a definite classic and should never be remade. Nobody can do what Bette Davis did for this movie. This movie was extremely funny and bizarre. I have no way to exactly put it... You'd be shocked how good it is regardless of the era you were born. It's chillingly hilarious, creepy, sinister, bizarre ...but overall funny as all Hell. It really is good for it's time. This may not be for all horror fans as..But it is a great classic in that genre. If you like lot's of blood..of course this isn't what you want to see...This is my kind of movie. Very psychological and fun. Old movies of course have odd scenarios and too many quiet scenes. But it couldn't have been better in any other time. One of the best movies i've seen!
"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" blends "Psycho" with "Sunset Boulevard" to compelling effect. The film's story and the behind-the-scenes story of the film have both become legendary. The early 60's setting has dated, but it is still a very entertaining movie even today. Don't expect any real chills or scares, but rather more of a dark comedy with some psychological insight. Robert Aldrich excelled at this kind of lurid melodrama when not doing macho action films. His was an interesting and rather schizophrenic career. But whether action film or melodrama, he always seemed to go b---ls out with everything he had, and this movie is no exception. Bette Davis is absolutely wonderful. Her career had been spotty since "All About Eve" twelve years earlier and you see her just tear into this role like a starving animal. Yes, she's over-the-top and campy, but always self-aware and giving the role everything it calls for. If she had toned it down, I don't think anyone would remember the film today. She has several great moments, but my favorite is when she sings "I'm Writing A Letter to Daddy" and that shattering moment at the end when she realizes what a wreck she has become. Its only a moment of self-awareness, though, and she goes right on with her maniacal, misguided "comeback" and creative culinary endeavors. Joan Crawford, surprisingly to me, is actually quite good also. Her looks are not as cringe-worthy as Miss Davis' in this film, but there's no effort to glamorize or beautify her. I always thought her hairstyle and dresses make her look like she's playing the Wicked Witch of the West. For the most part, though, she's quite restrained and effective. She really does give a convincing portrayal of someone who is starving and dying without overacting. There are also some fine supporting performances by Victor Buono as Bette's slimy accompanist, Maidie Norman as Crawford's loyal maid and Marjorie Bennett as Buono's smothering mother. Don't watch this movie expecting anything more than a well-made melodramatic Hollywood potboiler giving two great stars one of their last chances to really shine and you will be happy.
For all that more recent movies have taken similar themes much further,
and for all that it does have a few flaws, "Whatever Happened to Baby
Jane" is still as entertaining as ever, and it still offers an
absorbing story that also provides a few insights into human nature.
The period settings in the first part of the movie still work well, and
the (then) contemporary setting still feels current, excepting only the
kinds of technological details that would now be different.
The off-screen tensions between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford no doubt added to their portrayals of their characters, and most of the time it seems to have brought out the best in their acting. There is real tension, dislike, and fear between the two sisters, and it gives weight to even the most minor of their confrontations.
The two main characters are also very interesting in themselves. Jane and Blanche both have shortcomings that are common to many of us; they simply have them to an exaggerated degree. Jane's emotional inability to live in the present and Blanche's false sense of outward control also make for a good contrast. The supporting cast is solid, but except perhaps for Victor Buono's oddball character they are usually only there for Davis and Crawford to play off of.
The story is imaginative, and it nicely combines familiar elements with some clever turns. Objectively, it is probably a little too long, but the weird world that it creates is so interesting and believable that there's really no rush at all for it to end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Joan Crawford is watching an old movie of herself on television. A
neighbor comes by who had watched one of her old movies the night
before on TV. She brings flowers to the back door. Bette Davis answers
looking like a real bitch. The neighbor goes on and on about how great
Joan Crawford is, and how she and her daughter would love to meet her.
Bette Davis replies- My sister is not fit to receive visitors and never
leaves the house. She then sends the neighbor away.
She goes upstairs to bring her invalid sister her breakfast. She hears Joan Crawford watching one of her old movies on TV. Just before she enters the room she says- Enjoying yourself? Oh why yes Joan Crawford replies. Bette Davis walks to the TV and then hits the off button. Joan Crawford jolts-I was watching that. Bette Davis turns and jolts back with jealousy- THEN YOU'RE AN IDIOT! That sets the whole mood for the film. You'll find yourself laughing and falling off the couch.
This movie ROCKS! It is so ahead of it's time. It is quite controversial in my opinion. Even to this day. It deals with issues of codependency, toxic relationships, fame, reputation, female power struggles, addiction, alcoholism, denial, insecurity and redemption. You name it this film has it. I really have to give the women in this film A lot of credit. No woman in Hollywood today would ever allow themselves to be filmed so unattractively. I know Charlize Theron did for Monster. I'm talking about older actresses.
It was very, very bold of Bette Davis to be filmed in such bad lighting and such hideous makeup. She allowed every crag, wrinkle and bag to be seen. And quite closeup I might add. That takes some real balls to do that. Hell, not even male actors nowadays would allow that. This movie is a frightening portrayal of what happens to the ego once it collapses. All she has left are her distant memories of her heyday, and now those are not even enough to keep her afloat. So what does she do? Drowns herself in booze and tries to drag everybody down with her. This movie is tragic, funny and frightening all at the same time.
I think we all see Baby Janes in our society nowadays. Ehhh emmm, can anyone say Michael Jackson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Liz Taylor? And I'm sure we'll see plenty more to come in the future. Madonna, Britney Spears, Courtney Love. Now those are gonna be some really frightening Baby Janes. Madonna is almost there! Perhaps one day when Lidsay Lohan and Hilary Duff are old they'll be confined to a house together left to destroy each other. Only if there's a God. LOL! Then we will all finally be vindicated.
I highly recommend this movie. It will freak you out.
you don't need any special effects, no fancy sets no steamy sex scenes no terminators, all you need is Bette Davis that woman can kill with a wink. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are superb in this film. Very haunting and daring tale for any time period. This is proof that Hollywood lacks the greatness it use to up hold, back then they had actors now they have bunch of mimics. Hollywood is lacking the mysticism this film possesses no film in history has ever been able to reproduce the magnitude and greatness this director and actresses hold. I highly recommend this masterpiece for any film lover or anyone wanting to learn about acting or film making or just someone who enjoys movies.
A film of such superiority one cannot do it justice by describing it in a short summary. The performances are brilliant, best of all is Bette Davis as the crazed former child star who torments her once-famous movie glamour girl sister who is now in a wheelchair, Joan Crawford, who also gives a remarkable performance. The direction is impeccable, and all the touches combined make this film unique and disturbing.
As I myself get older and so does this film I grow to like it more and more. My only argument for the greatness of this low-budget offering is that the very great Redgraves tackled the same material and made complete fools of themselves. I think Bette and Joan are unforgettable in this film and so will you. If you don't you need to study film a bit closer!!!!
Who doesn't love Bette and Joan? These two have made What Ever Happened to
Baby Jane an all-time classic. The one-liners are quoted over 25 years
later. This film is one that has earned a permanent place in the Gay
Bette's performance as Baby Jane Hudson will surely be one of her most remembered roles. She portrays the apparently mentally imbalanced younger sister incredibly well.
Matched with Joan Crawford, the older, wheelchair-bound sister, the chemistry between the two women is sensational.
On the edge of your seat throughout... wondering what could possibly be the outcome of these siblings... any person will love this suspense thriller.
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