Baby Jane: a reminder of Robert Aldrich

Film featured the combustible pairing of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, typical of Aldrich's pugnacious style

It should really have inspired its own sordid sub-sub-genre. Hagsploitation, perhaps, or maybe Grande Dame Guignol. Robert Aldrich's What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? is a movie that reeks of contempt and despair, and so it brings me great pleasure to celebrate its 50th anniversary as it is re-released this week.

Key to its success was the provocative casting of longtime enemies Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, who had been feuding toxically for nearly three decades. Bette, the better actor and the worse alcoholic, had an arch and spiteful tongue – "Joan Crawford? I wouldn't sit on her toilet!" – while Joan, inarguably the greater star and herself no slouch in the vodka wars, had come from nothing and always played for keeps. She would steal, seduce, and marry the love of your life just to spite you,
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