What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

This is a truly horrifying and strangest movie experience set in a claustrophobic Hollywood mansion in the tradition of the german expressionism.

Once a famous child star, Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) never goes beyond a second rate actress, overshadowed by her sister Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) who has become a bigger star that she aspires. Blanche is crippled in a mysterious car crash allegedly orchestrated by Jane. Reclusive and bound to a small room, Blanche depends on the increasingly insane Jane on her breakfast, lunch and din-din.

It’s hard to mention this film without citing the real life quarrels between Bette and Joan which fuel the on screen hatred between the two characters, but it is Bette’s performance as Jane that makes this film instantly unforgettable. Jane applies pile of make-up on her aging and ugly face, dresses like she is still 10 years old, and buries herself in the world of fantasy and booze.

As things pile up, she becomes more violent to her sister, shutting the paralyzed Blanche from the outside world, serving her meals of contents I wish not reveal here, dreaming of a come back as she practices her old act as the Baby Jane Hudson. David Lynch has not yet created something quite like the scene as Jane dances and sings in the aging mansion.

The film is escalated from a melodrama to a true psychological thriller and ultimately the tragedy of Baby Jane when the secret is revealed near the end. Blanche is seen here as the helpless good hearted sister that we identify with all along, but she is as guilty as Jane herself in the road of greed, regret and hatred. Ended with the only redemption of two cones of strawberry ice-cream.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane is directed by Robert Aldrich, based on the novel written by Henry Farrell,

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