on January 25, 2010
Bette Davis and Joan Crawford at their finest! They hated each other off screen and it translates wonderfully on screen! It is yet again another film that proves that you can have suspense, and frightening scenes WITHOUT gore or computer generated effects. It relies on lighting, sound and acting TALENT to get the message across.The picture and sound quality is amazing and reproduces well through 5.1 surround sound. For fans of smart horror as appossed to "Shock Schlok" I highly recommend this film as well as "Hush, hush sweet Charlotte"
on February 12, 2009
If you have a wicked cruel sense of humour and a drama queen sister you love to hate, this is the movie for you two to watch. My 12 year old niece was surprised how entertaining this old black and white movie was, she still raves about this film and still sings the theme song "letter to daddy" to this very day.
on May 14, 2009
This film is a classic! I can't imagine anyone else playing this role other than Bette. She really owns it. Crawford, on other hand, was decent, but I'm sure anyone else could have replaced her...OUCH!! This dvd also comes with lot's of great extras---totally recommend it.
on January 25, 2001
I had wanted to see this movie for yonks. I had assumed that Bette Davis' character had never been a star, and that she was only cruel to Joan Crawford's character because SHE had been a child star! Once all this confusion was cleared up, I began to actually watch the film.
Bette Davis was excellent as Baby Jane because she was so ugly, unpredictable and desperate. She never missed a beat... unless she was having a particularly insane day. You know what it's like when you're stuck in the past and you can't get over the fact that you're not five years old anymore... you don't know what that's like? Oh, good.
There are a couple of slip ups in the movie, deeming it a little unrealistic, but if you didn't let them pass, you'd have the movie end prematurely I guess.
It is kind of haunting and sad to see the photos and memoirs of both women when they were young, loved and famous. It really shows what damage you can do to yourself when you're not willing to age gracefully. (Take note, Melanie Griffith)
This was quite a demented flick, and I was left with a slightly off after-taste once it ended. It makes you wonder if Shirley Temple was ever that crazy, or maybe whether Macauley Culkin is going to end up in an asylum. Worth a look, but not if you're looking for a reason to smile!
You get 2 discs in this DVD set. Great film, I highly recommend it.
Disc 1 - What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? - 1962, 134 mins, B&W, widescreen 1.85:1, audio: English & French Dolby Digital Mono, subtitles: English, French & Spanish, scene selection. Extras: commentary by Charles Busch & John Epperson, theatrical trailer (2:23)
Disc 2 - Featurettes & documentaries - Bette And Joan: Blind Ambition (29:45), Behind The Scenes With Baby Jane (6:37), excerpt from 1962 Andy Williams TV show (2:04), All About Bette (48:08), Film Profile: Joan Crawford (28:34)
on June 6, 2009
What can you say about a movie starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. An absolute classic and just as good today as when it was released.
on July 5, 2004
Check out the editorial review "Sadistic Jane and their servant Norman????" The only servant, err, make that housekeeper in this saga is ELVIRA [No, NOT THAT one!] who meets ..... [Clunk!~ Thud!]
WELL, this utterly dark little Gem of Joy still pack many a wallop!
No quite dated, but such an acidic picture of Tinseltown - as a matter of fact you can still see these old [er] Dolls and Guys on Hollywood Boulevard - or Rodeo Drive [botox-powered] for that matter.
IT hasn't really aged that badly - Crawford is superb as the wheelchair bound glam queen Blance ~ utterly dependent on her increasingly insane sister Jane ~ Davis probably on a par with her turn in THE STAR. Davis sacrifices all for this role, including figure and looks, shuffling around the house in flip-flops, dragging on a cigarette and swigging booze has NEVER been this fun!
Bring along a creepy VICTOR BUONO [debut role] as a grifter with an accent and his dear old Ma ... nasty little jewels they are - check out the scene with Davis and Buono and the sandwich plate ... then the booze scene later! Priceless [It's almost Norman Desmond and Joe - the later years].
Superior lensing and direction etc. etc. etc.
Davis daughter BD HYMAN plays the teen next door.
Roaring fun for late at night viewing - double billed with Sunset Boulevard.
[Now wasn't there a musical version of this one ....?]
on June 28, 2004
In "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" you really DO find out, indeed!
But what horrors you have to endure to see the truth and consequences! With twists, turns, torture & anti-climactic scenes all played to the hilt by the Miss Hudsons (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford), respectively, you will never be able to look at your pet parakeet the same way again.
Miss Baby Jane Hudson, played with great, grotesque gusto by Davis who was once the belle of the ball. Kind of a Shirley Temple of her era. Baby Jane was daddy's girl and Jane, therefore, has quite an Electra complex that is and has been exhibited her entire life.
Her sister, Miss Blanche Hudson, played "aptly and sapply" by Crawford, has a long and lasting career as an adult movie star but is now wheelchair bound because of a little "accident" betwixt the sisters many years back. Jane is the caretaker of Blanche since the "accident" and they both live off of the residuals of Blanche's long and prosperous film career before she became crippled.
After a local California TV station decides to run summer afternoon, back to back Blanche Hudson films, Baby Jane gets that ol' jealous feeling brewing again and wants desparately to revitalize her childhood career. Baby Jane hires pianist from the classifieds, Mr. Edward Flagg, played in a great understated role by Victor Buono, who has his own Oedipal yearnings and problems. They make a great and perfect pair of drunks and crazies, let me tell ya.
Jane is certainly unstable and is likened to a gin and vodka guzzling 60 year old broad with a six year old spoiled brat mentality. SCARY combo, right there! Let alone Jane's guilt of the "accident", her shameless jealousy, and her expressions of the antithesis of "SISTERLY LOVE".
Filmed in glorious black and white, it lends itself to the dark, somber and horrific things that happen to Blanche vis-a-vis Jane...
"Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" is a cult classic and a true and genuine classic in it's own right.
on January 19, 2004
'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane' is a movie whose name will forevermore conjure up images of Bette Davis in whiteface as the screeching, unhinged Jane, rats on silver trays, and Joan Crawford dying on a beach. However, if you can look past the campy stereotypes there's a beautifully-crafted thriller here, waiting to be enjoyed as one of the definitive films of 1960's Hollywood.
Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis), a former child vaudevillian, is now charged with the care of her crippled movie-star sister Blanche (Joan Crawford). Having lost the use of her legs in an accident, Blanche stays mostly to her room, relying on Jane's guilt to take care of her. When Blanche decides to sell her house, Jane initiates a reign of terror over the infirm star, culminating in one of the most desolate and emotionally charged finales ever seen in pictures.
It's impossible to look away from Davis as Jane. She's loud, over-the-top, unhinged, dangerous and luminous. As one reviewer charged, she is all cliche and mannerism, and there aren't enough sequences where Davis' considerable talent as an actress is allowed to give the character any real humanity. These scenes are present, however, when Jane is drunk at the piano, or right at the end of the movie when she's buying ice cream, and it's these scenes, played so beautifully by Davis, that stop the character of Jane from becoming yet another schlock-horror Titan and propel her into our memories as one of the greats.
Joan Crawford, long considered to be the least-talented of these two actresses, turns the tables entirely in her role as the terrorised, hapless Blanche. She is winsome, emotional and most of all, she is real. Her magnificence as an Actress reveals itself in the personal exchanges with Blanche, their maid, and in those scenes where she is required to move out of her wheelchair - Crawford plays the part with empathy and pathos, and we find ourselves emotionally attached to Blanche for the entire picture.
Victor Buono as Edwin Flagg, Baby Jane's musical arranger and special friend, also deserves a special mention - his performance is greasy, two-faced and cloying, and in absolute sympathy with the character he is portraying.
Direction is excellent - Robert Aldrich has created a monster in Baby Jane, but, not content to let her carry the whole show, he gives us a genuinely creepy mansion for her to terrorise in, a house full of ambiguous shadows and beautifully lit and shot corners, staircases and window-lattices. He cleverly contrasts the pure Horror-Noir look of the Hudson interior with that of the plastic-fantastic suburban world of the neighbouring Mrs. Bates (Anna Lee) to great effect.
Like the direction, the use of music and sound too goes a long way to furthering the sense of isolation and despair in the Hudson house. Blanche's buzzer and Jane's thumping, slouchy footsteps cut through mass silences and add to the tension. Jangly jazz music (the instrumental track from a song by Debbie Burton and Bette Davis, called 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane') in the sequence where Blanche is racing against time to get a note to her neighbours adds more again to the tension and isolation.
Excellently preserved and transferred, 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' is a movie that no collection really should be without. It's a great example of how talent doesn;t fade with age, a truly chilling film, and above all else, highly entertaining.
on January 16, 2004
it seems every time i view this film, some hidden nuance in the demeanor of joan crawford's blanche reveals itself to me and convinces me that it is indeed miss crawford's performance which makes this film so memorable, apart from the sheer box office genius of pairing together two such high profile cinema legends under one roof. one of my two favorite moments (among many memorable ones) involves the scene where blanche enters jane's bedroom to suddenly discover, after searching jane's dresser, proof of jane's check forgery as well as a surreal glossy of the real 30s joan with the face all scratched out by a jealous jane. by the way, how fabulously surreal to encounter all the hidden references to joan's mgm heyday in this movie, especially the scene where joan watches herself on tv as 'sadie mckee.' however, the actual 'revelation' of subdued acting comes when blanche finds a box of chocolates in the same drawer and then proceeds to devour some of it with marvelously ravenous relish. it is one of the most fantastically well acted and realistic portrayals of utter physical hunger i have ever seen. the expressions on her face are pricelessly conveyed by the master of facial expressiveness. one almost feels compelled to applaud. this is just one of those moments in this movie when you realize joan's performance steals the show right from under bette's nose. the other tour de force scene comes when blanche later attempts ever so precariously to make her way downstairs to get to the phone by supporting herself on the stair rail, her hair all disheveled and her face portraying consummate anxiety and despair.
it appears that, while bette relies much too heavily on 'make-up and mannerisms' to do the acting for her, joan has only her very own beautifully expressive face to convey every subtle emotion in the book. that's the real difference in my opinion. bette used her ghoulish make-up as a 'prop' while joan literally had to 'act' out what was, in reality, a much more demanding role as blanche. there are also certain scenes where bette's timing seems to be oddly off for some inexplicable reason, as in the scenes where she's required to let out those hyena-like bursts of demented laughter. don't get me wrong, i do appreciate bette's jane on occasion but, as a whole, i enjoy it much more on a campy (i.e., overly mannered) level. i feel the way this movie has been perceived is all wrong. i'm inclined to believe that, while joan's blanche may indeed have been supposed to play a sort of 'straight man' to jane's outlandish antics in this film, joan manages, in fact, to turn the tables and make blanche the real 'acting' focus in this duo, rendering bette's jane a mere 'sideline of a freak show' at times. part of the blame for this unexpected turn of events, of course, is due to what must've been bette's overwhelmingly insecure desire to upstage, upstage, upstage!!! at all cost and make herself a much too obvious 'look at me' target throughout this film.
also, joan's wonderfully conveyed despair and horror in her swirling wheelchair after the infamous 'rat' had been served to her, brings to mind shades of a louise howell, a tragically mentally troubled crawford role from the 1947 noir classic 'possessed' which earned her a second oscar nomination.
at any rate, as in 'grand hotel,' where joan steals the show from garbo, so too in 'baby jane' she steals it from davis. i guess there is always a hidden and easily incurred danger in turning an 'overt' character like that of jane's into a one dimensional, cartoon-like 'monster' of camp, which is, sadly, all we get from bette. joan, however, knew better. she knew that it was blanche's role which actually offered the most 'acting' potential and she exploited it most effectively. in retrospect, it appears much too much has been made of bette's real chances to win the oscar for her turn as 'baby jane.' after repeated viewings, one realizes that bette's highly 'campy and shock value' portrayal deserved nothing more than a nomination, and that is perhaps being too generous, in all honesty. joan's subtle turn as blanche, on the other hand, would've been the perfectly nuanced role to celebrate with 'at least' a nomination. after all, it only seems fitting to have nominated both ladies if any was to be nominated at all. to have only nominated bette for her campy orgy of overacting as jane was in itself a horrendous affront to joan's real talent and career.