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.
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A piano teacher believes that her fiancé, a cellist, was killed on the battlefield. When he returns alive, they marry, but are menaced and threatened by a wealthy, egotistical composer she started dating on the rebound.
Charlotte Hollis, an aging recluse deluded into a state of dementia by horrible memories and hallucinations, lives in a secluded house where, thirty-seven years before, John Mayhew her married lover, was beheaded and mutilated by an unknown assailant. Written by
When Joan Crawford was replaced by Olivia de Havilland in the role of Miriam and production resumed on Wednesday, September 9, 1964, Davis and de Havilland pulled a "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" routine by toasting one another with Coca-Cola - a catty observation of the fact that Crawford's husband had been an executive of Pepsi-Cola and that she was now on the board of directors. Joining in on the toast were Joseph Cotten and director Robert Aldrich. See more »
Shots of Bette Davis (shot in heavy shadows) and an obviously much younger double are unsuccessfully cut together in opening prologue sequence. See more »
In 1962, when the careers of acting heavyweights such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Olivia De Havilland were beginning to subside as the years took their toll, director Robert Aldrich directed Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, a story of sibling jealousy and sadism that saw Davis and Crawford go head to head. The film was notorious not only for it's brilliance, but for it's genuine rivalry between the film's two leads. The film was a success, and unwittingly gave birth to a new genre that has since become known as 'hagspolitation' or 'psycho-biddy thrillers', a splurge of films that usually portrayed a psychotic older woman played by a 1940-50's superstar. Davis and Crawford were the key players in the sub-genre, and they were both cast by Altman in his next film, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, only for Crawford to drop out due to 'illness', when in reality it was because she just couldn't take Davis' bullying and general nasty behaviour. She was replaced by De Havilland, and although the film doesn't come near to capturing the greatness of Baby Jane, it is still a nice little shocker.
Beginning with a shocking murder that sees a married man who is having an affair with Charlotte (Davis) have his arm and head hacked off with a huge cleaver, the film jumps forward four decades, where the ageing Charlotte lives alone in her giant mansion that is being torn down by city developers. Haunted by the murder of her former lover (for which she may or may not have been the culprit), Charlotte is losing her mind when her cousin Miriam (De Havilland) comes to stay to try and convince her to leave before she is arrested by the developers for failing to leave her home. What follows is Charlotte's fast decent into insanity, but is she being played and manipulated by people after her vast fortune?
The film is a solid horror film with some genuine shocks and extreme gore for its day. Of course, the ever-reliable Bette Davis is superb as the squeaky-voice southern gal seemingly with the mind of an infant. Although the film works well as both a Southern Gothic horror and as a thriller, the film doesn't have the intensity to last out the 2 hours and 15 minute running time and slightly outstays his welcome. But their is solid support from Joseph Cotten, an actor who has never been recognised enough for his excellent body of work, and Agnes Moorehead, another main player in the genre.
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