7.7/10
9,721
126 user 45 critic

Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

Unrated | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 24 December 1964 (USA)
An aging, reclusive Southern belle plagued by a horrifying family secret descends into madness after the arrival of a lost relative.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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4,721 ( 1,281)

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From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 7 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Harry Willis
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Big Sam Hollis
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Jewel Mayhew
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Sheriff Luke Standish
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Paul Marchand
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John Mayhew
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Editor
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Foreman
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Taxi Driver
Michel Petit ...
Gang Leader (as Michael Petit)
John Megna ...
New Boy

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Storyline

Aged, wealthy Charlotte Hollis has lived as a recluse in the crumbling family plantation mansion in Hollisport, Louisiana since her father Sam Hollis' death thirty-six years ago. The only people who regularly see her are her hard-as-nails but seemingly loyal housekeeper, Velma Crowther, and her longtime friend and physician, Dr. Drew Bayliss. She has lived there most of her life except for a short stint in London thirty-seven years ago following the vicious murder of her married lover, John Mayhew, at the plantation's summer house while Sam was hosting one of his legendary grand balls in the mansion. She and John had planned to run off together that night, but instead he was bludgeoned to death, his head and right hand severed from his body. Nobody was ever convicted for his murder, but most people believe Charlotte did it after John changed his mind about running off with her. They also believe that Charlotte, whom they haven't seen in years, is a crazy old woman. Conversely, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't Tell Anyone What Happened In The Summer House! See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

24 December 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,235,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Aldrich had to take three planes, a train and a taxi up a goat trail to get to Olivia de Havilland's home, which was in the mountains of Switzerland. It took him four days to convince her to step in and replace Joan Crawford. See more »

Goofs

In the beginning of the movie where Charlotte is being told that her lover was not going to run away with her, there are 2 birds in a cage. When you see the birds they look like some type of Amazon Parrot but the sounds they make are more like a parakeet. See more »

Quotes

Jewel Mayhew: Well, right here on the public street, in the light of day, let me tell you, Miriam Deering, that murder starts in the heart, and its first weapon is a vicious tongue.
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Connections

Referenced in Having a Wild Weekend (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Careless Love
(uncredited)
Traditional
[Played by the band at the party before "When the Saints Go Marching In"]
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User Reviews

 
Great film but slightly flawed in the middle
14 January 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

John Mayhew (Bruce Dern), a married man, is having an affair with Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis). When Charlotte's father, Sam (Victor Buono), a local bigwig (the town is even named after the family) finds out that John was planning on eloping with Charlotte, he demands that John tells Charlotte during a big party that he's breaking off their relationship. John ends up dead, and Charlotte is the likely suspect. Thirty-seven years later, Charlotte is still living as a recluse on her family's plantation, but now she is being forced to move, as a highway is going to be built across her property. Gradually, people come back into her life to ostensibly help her.

For at least the first 45 minutes to an hour or so into the film, Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a 10 out of 10. Unfortunately, given a 133-minute running time, director Robert Aldrich can't sustain the intensity for the length of the film, but Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte finishes as an 8 out of 10 for me.

Although there are some thriller and horror elements, both take up relatively little screen time. At that though, these elements are extremely effective. Some parts are surprisingly graphic for 1964--just enough to be a surprise and evoke the appropriate sense of shock. The best horror/thriller material in the film is in the haunted house vein, and for a time, we wonder if Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte is going to end up being a ghost story.

But the focus here is primarily on Charlotte and Miriam Deering (Olivia de Havilland) and their relationship to one another. Davis and de Havilland are both incredible in the film, and both go through a very wide range of emotions. Oddly, Agnes Moorehead (as Velma Cruther) was more recognized for her performance than the rest of the cast in terms of awards and nominations, with de Havilland receiving neither. Not that Moorehead wasn't good, but in my view, she wasn't the standout performance. However, that's just further fuel for my belief that the Academy Awards have little to do with rewarding the best films, actors and filmmakers.

There are also broader themes explored as a subtext, including the changing way of life in the southern United States between the early and mid-20th Century.

I subtracted two points because the film lost a bit of its momentum and direction in the middle, but the last half-hour is as exciting as the beginning.


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