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      What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

      Released Oct 31, 1962 2 hr. 12 min. Horror Mystery & Thriller List
      91% 53 Reviews Tomatometer 91% 25,000+ Ratings Audience Score Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) is an aging child star left to care for her wheelchair-bound sister Blanche (Joan Crawford), also a former child actress. Stuck living together in a mansion in old Hollywood, Blanche plots to get even with Jane for the car crash that left her crippled years earlier. But Jane is desperate to keep Blanche imprisoned as she plans a new rise to fame, and tries to hide Blanche's existence from doctors, visitors and neighbors while she devises a way to get rid of her sister. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Premiered Apr 30 Buy Now

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      What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

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      Critics Consensus

      What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? combines powerhouse acting, rich atmosphere, and absorbing melodrama in service of a taut thriller with thought-provoking subtext.

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      Alec C Stardom can be blinding, leaving you naive to the reality surrounding you! Jane Hudson is a former child star that torments her quadraplegic sister Blanche and misguidedly attempts to reclaim her lost popularity, but instead she continues to fall into insanity as her sister suffers. A disturbing look at the toxicity of fame and its mental degradation, this iconic thriller manages to leave a hole in the pits of our stomachs! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/18/24 Full Review Ryan D Joan Crawford's acting is good, believable, Bette Davis's is overly theatrical and fake, can't believe she nominated for an Oscar for this?! The storyline is long and drawn out for not much happening, certain scenes are far too long, for example Blanche making her way down the stairs. Not much of a storyline, not really much happening, could have condensed the entire 2H+ film into 30 minutes. The ending is bitterly disappointing, ended on a beach too many unanswered questions: did Blanche die? If not did she tell the police? Did Jane get arrested? If she did was she charged for her crimes against Blanche? Was she charged for murdering Elvera (maid) Rated 1 out of 5 stars 02/07/24 Full Review Patrick C So freaking good. Tense and tragic and complex with just a hint of camp. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 10/12/23 Full Review Ian G Somehow I've managed to miss this ultra dark cameo of sibling antagonism till about half an hour back, when I found it streamable from the BBC's iplayer app. And what a tale it was... with a chapter of cruelties visited on one sister by another - noting that that statement didn't identify which was the recipient of said cruelty... Without examining every single example of how this all unfolded, suffice to say that Bette Davis got nearly all the hi-tariff lines and action, while Crawford had to play the one getting it all in the neck from the unhinged Baby Jane (Davis). The story depicts horrific acts of emotional and physical abuse on Crawford, but the tale's eventual sting shows that due to a lie of keeping quiet about how she'd been crippled, it was really Crawford's character who was the engineer of her own eventual demise - and her sister's insanity. There's several "buts", however. Without going into tortuous detail, the home help Elvira bravely gets access to the house and is caught in the act of forcing Crawford's bedroom door open when she finds it's been locked by Davis to imprison her sister, she forces the key from Davis who she she knows full well is unhinged and deeply vindictive, yet she then unbelievably puts down the hammer being used to force the door to accept the door key from Davis, which she's extorted from her. And of course she then unbelievably stupidly enters the room leaving Davis free to take said hammer and - foreseeably enough - use it to bash in the back of her head. Who in any conceivable world might have done that?? It's just the sort of thing that - as you're watching it you know a completely obvious brainless move has just been made that NOBODY with her insight would have done. This is stupid, lazy writing and let the film down badly. The other stupid move was by Crawford when she tossed her Help Me note to the neighbour who was visible outside. Yet - did she scream or even call to her to raise the chances of the note being found by its intended recipient? No. Why? Only the writer could explain that one. And of course Davis finds it, reads it, takes revenge on Crawford. Completely shallow writing again, Stupid writing insults the audience, Each of these could easily have been rejigged to make them credible, yet the director let these go through to the Final Cut, Forgive these trespasses on common sense, the remainder is a well told tale. But with a not too guessable tail-sting in the form of what amounts to a deathbed confession from Crawford that she ..... To find out what that was, you'll need to watch it. But it's a real stinger for sure, showing the real torturer to have been other than we'd had it suggested. Famously, these two once-A-list but now faded screenqueens hated each other. And Davis used her hatred without question on Crawford. Or so it looked. I've read before about this alleged hatred, and seems to have been real enough. Much later, Crawford's daughter wrote in a biography called Mummy Dearest about Crawford's unhinged behaviour towards her children so if those allegations are true it'd seem that Crawford had real vicious tendencies all her own. If you get any chance to see this, don't miss it. The performance by the whole cast is classic stuff. And the thing nearly didn't get made, because the studio bosses could only fixate on how the two main characters were "unbankable". No longer being considered sexually alluring women. The film budget came in well under a million. And went on to make $90m, becoming a classic that still gets plaudits. And got 5 Oscar nominations, winning one. Despite having two middle aged women as its main stars. But both were accomplished and talented actresses, and were obviously still extremely "bankable". Looks like studio bosses maybe should be the last people to decide on what should be made? Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 10/03/23 Full Review Matthew B Much attention has been given to the damage done by bad parenting. Psychologists and psychiatrists have made entire careers from it – the harm caused to people by the actions of their mother and father, or the ways to limit passing those bad effects onto one's own children. Rather less attention is paid to the toxic effects of having a bad relationship with a sibling, and yet this can be just as detrimental as any dysfunctional parenting. Sometimes a child has as much to fear from a brother or sister as they do from a father or mother. Such is the theme of Robert Aldrich's 1962 melodrama, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Aldrich showed himself to be adept at the overwrought melodrama, immersing himself in the excessive acting, ghastly behaviour and bizarre plot twists that are essential to make this type of movie work. Perhaps it helped that the world-view of Aldrich's other movies was also cynical and pessimistic. He made films about characters that are unsympathetic, and yet still human enough to be identifiable. He is unafraid to end movies with a sour tinge, even when that ending is seemingly happy. For What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Aldrich looked at the appalling extremes to which sibling rivalry can reach, and also the devastating effects of fame. Whatever happens to the celebrity who fades from view? Do they retreat into their old-fashioned houses waiting for the call to return, like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard? Or do they realise it's over, and feel only bitterness and regret like the two sisters in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? What happens when the two faded stars are both sisters who at various times in their lives have eclipsed one another, and never forgiven the other one for being forced to live in their shadow? Aldrich's greatest coup was in finding two actresses for the leading roles whose lives partly matched the fate of the two characters in the movie. Though they were not sisters, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford could almost have been the living embodiments of their characters, Jane and Blanche Hudson. Davis and Crawford had both been big stars in their day, but at the time when the movie was made, their star was in the decline, so much so that the ageing actresses accepted a lower salary for the film in exchange for a share of the profits. Fortunately the film was a great success, and briefly revived their careers. Both actresses were feisty at their best, and needy and demanding at their worst. Both were said to have been guilty of domestic abuse towards their own family. Most importantly, the two actresses hated each other just as much as their characters did. Indeed the most remarkable of Aldrich's achievements was getting them to work together at all. Sometimes bitter rivalry between leading stars can make for a miserable shoot, but Aldrich seems to have been able to project their mutual loathing on screen to great effect. The sisters live on different levels of the house, reflecting their apartness. Blanche is on the upper level, confined by her wheelchair, watching her old movies and recalling past glories. "He should've held that shot longer," she complains. "I told him that when we were rehearsing, also when we shot it, but he wouldn't listen." Jane wanders around downstairs. She is a frightful mess, usually seen with a glass in her hand, wearing a shabby nightgown. There is a cupboard full of empty bottles. Her voice is harsh and spiteful. However the most remarkable aspect is her frightful make-up. In a ghoulish imitation of her former doll, her face is constantly covered in layers of make-up, each layer seemingly caked on the next. She still has ribbons and curls. Davis gamely created her own make-up for the role. This was a relief for Robert Aldrich, as he had wanted a similar look, but did not feel able to suggest it to Davis for fear of offending her. Davis's vision was that Jane should look as if she never washed her face – just added another layer. Hag horror is a sub-genre that is likely to raise increasingly uneasy thoughts as society becomes more open-minded and questioning of prejudices. Is this not perpetuating negative stereotypes about the danger posed by people with mental health problems? Is there not something misogynistic about reducing older women to the level of comically crazy psychopaths? Perhaps. However Baby Jane provided exciting parts for two older actresses who were not ashamed to take on unflattering roles that challenged them. In any case, Aldrich fully exploits the ghoulish fun that can be extracted from this storyline. Neither sister is beyond our pity, but ultimately they pay the price for never maturing or growing old gracefully. In Sunset Boulevard, Joe Gillis tells the faded starlet Norma Desmond, "Norma, you're a woman of 50, now grow up. There's nothing tragic about being 50, not unless you try to be 25." If only Jane and Blanche Hudson had understood this too. I wrote a longer appreciation of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane on my blog page if you would like to read more: https://themoviescreenscene.wordpress.com/2019/11/07/what-ever-happened-to-baby-jane-1962/ Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/28/23 Full Review Arthur R Imesirvo e apreensivo, "O que terá acontecido a Baby Jane?" é um filme primoroso tanto em aspectos técnicos quanto narrativos. A maneira como o suspense é construído ao longo de suas duas horas, deixa qualquer curioso e até receoso pelo destino das protagonista. Baby Jane, interpretada pela excelente Bette Davis, traz uma loucura gradual que é de cair o queixo, certamente é a estrela e o destaque nesse longa. Infelizmente a duração do filme se excede por alguns minutos, causando uma quebra de ritmo difícil de ignorar, mas que não fica em momento algum acima dos pontos positivos. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 09/09/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

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      Critics Reviews

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      James Powers Hollywood Reporter A lurid melodrama of hate, revenge and murder, a high-class horror film, in the Hitchcock vein, with virtuoso performances from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and moments both searing and poignant. Mar 5, 2017 Full Review Jason Bailey Flavorwire What so often gets lost about 'Baby Jane' is that it's a real thriller, dark, suspenseful, and intense. Mar 3, 2017 Full Review Andrew Schenker Little White Lies There are plenty of thrills and no shortage of suspense in this darkly comic horror film. Rated: 3/5 Dec 13, 2012 Full Review Penelope Gilliatt Observer (UK) It plays on the public's subconscious resentment of film stars... Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is an oddly vengeful movie. Mar 6, 2024 Full Review Trace Thurman Horror Queers Podcast What could have been a campy B-movie becomes a rather touching tragedy thanks to two powerhouse lead performances from Joan Crawford and (especially) Bette Davis. Rated: 4/5 May 17, 2023 Full Review Joe Lipsett Horror Queers Podcast The precursor to the hagsploitation craze casts two real life titans in a feud that eerily echoes real life, and moreso how Hollywood treats its aging stars. The beach finale bumps this up a full half star; Davis is fantastic. Rated: 4/5 May 10, 2023 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) is an aging child star left to care for her wheelchair-bound sister Blanche (Joan Crawford), also a former child actress. Stuck living together in a mansion in old Hollywood, Blanche plots to get even with Jane for the car crash that left her crippled years earlier. But Jane is desperate to keep Blanche imprisoned as she plans a new rise to fame, and tries to hide Blanche's existence from doctors, visitors and neighbors while she devises a way to get rid of her sister.
      Director
      Robert Aldrich
      Executive Producer
      Kenneth Hyman
      Screenwriter
      Lukas Heller, Henry Farrell
      Distributor
      Warner Bros., Warner Home Vídeo
      Production Co
      Warner Brothers, Aldrich, Seven Arts Pictures
      Genre
      Horror, Mystery & Thriller
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Oct 31, 1962, Wide
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Nov 21, 2016
      Sound Mix
      Mono
      Aspect Ratio
      Flat (1.37:1)
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