A cultish horror favorite, 1962's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? will make you think twice before hungrily unveiling a covered plate of food. Bette Davis stars as Jane Hudson, a onetime child actress and singer. As an el... more »derly woman, she wishes to revive her vaudevillian career, but she has become a grotesque caricature of her former self. Over the years as her star faded, the star of her older sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) rose, outshining the career of the has-been Baby Jane. Jane was relegated to minor roles, which she only won when Blanche demanded that she be awarded them. The film opens years after a calamitous car accident leaves Blanche in a wheelchair, with no one to care for her except the increasingly insane and sadistic Jane and their servant, Norman. Trying to punish Blanche for her years of success, Jane tortures the housebound woman, slowly trying to starve her to death, all the while attempting to recapture the fame of her youth. This dark drama also stars Victor Buono as the hefty pianist who answers Jane's ad for an accompanist, hoping to milk some money off the demented old woman. Both Buono and Davis were nominated for Oscars for their roles in this suspenseful and somewhat sick thriller that exploited well the real-life antagonism between Davis and Crawford, while at the same time rejuvenated both their careers. --Jenny Brown« less
Ohh.. But Cha AAH, Blanche, Ya AAH In That Chair!!!
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 06/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.Happy Watching!"
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 04/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh yeah! I've been waiting quite awhile to partake in this slab of metaphysical weirdness! Needless to say, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" is everything you've heard and more. People went back and forth, frothing at the mouth in anticipation of a Freddy Krueger versus Jason Voorhees duel in "Freddy vs. Jason," but if you want the real deal all you need do is check out Joan Crawford versus Bette Davis. By all accounts sworn enemies in real life, "Baby Jane" finally brought the two powerhouses together for a knock down, drag out fight of epic proportions in a movie that is so utterly insane it really does defy description. Every thing I will write about the film below won't do it justice. I imagine this movie is a lot like the Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon--you can look at pictures and say "Wow! That looks incredible," but a two dimensional photographic image won't give you the full effect. You've got to go there to appreciate such natural wonders, and you'll have to rent or buy this DVD to appreciate the wonder of Bette Davis on autocamp as a former child star grown up into, well, read on and see.
Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) had it all when she was a child. A hit song insured that big audiences turned out to see her perform on the stage. Unfortunately, little Jane suffered from an ego the approximate size of Wyoming, an ego that resulted in temper tantrums with her parents and her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford). Eventually her raging sense of self torpedoed her career even as her sister's began to soar when the film industry blossomed. Jane Hudson sank into obscurity, liquor, cigarettes, and a monstrous case of mental illness that greatly accelerated when a tragic accident put Blanche in a wheelchair for life. Now the two sisters live together in a decrepit house reminiscing about the old days. Well, at least Blanche reminisces. Jane Hudson spends her time stalking around the house in pancake makeup and a gossamer gown now tattered and spattered, spewing sarcasm and veiled threats at her sister, the neighbors, and the maid who arrives once a week to see how things are going. Hudson still thinks it's possible to resurrect her long dead celebrity if only she can figure out a way to rid herself of the onerous burden that is Blanche. Obviously, she finds a way. She begins tormenting her sister by placing disgusting things in her food and making her sound crazy to outsiders. When that fails to work fast enough, she resorts to out and out physical violence.
With Blanche under lock and key in a bedroom upstairs, Jane begins the rigorous training all performers undertake to return to greatness. She hires a down and out musician by the name of Edwin Flagg (Victor Buono) to drop by the house for voice and dance lessons. Now the real insanity starts as Hudson rapidly devolves back into her childhood persona. She prances about the house singing her old musical numbers, giving it her all without realizing how incredibly grotesque the idea of an elderly woman imitating a child is. Flagg thinks Jane is crackers, and he's right more than he could possibly know, but a paycheck is a paycheck. Until he finds out what is going on in a bedroom upstairs, that is. Faced with the distasteful presence of the local constabulary and the probability of a lot of probing questions about what's been going on between the two sisters, Hudson packs Blanche in the car for a trip to the beach. I won't spoil the conclusion of this cult classic for you, but let's just say a startling revelation at the seashore proves to be the straw that finally pushes poor Jane Hudson over the edge. The denouement is upsetting, the sort of ending that has you putting your hand to your mouth in a "oh my" gesture.
"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" is a masterpiece of casting, directing, and performing. The idea of putting these two lionesses of the silver screen in the same picture was a stroke of genius on the part of director Robert Aldrich, although many questioned his sanity for making such a decision. Wouldn't the two actresses tear each other apart on set? Apparently not, but there were a few confrontations--including a thrown back and some real kicks delivered in a certain scene--and sniping that hinted at the turmoil just under the surface. Aldrich moved forward, crafting a film that is both claustrophobic in its set pieces and one that uses the black and white photography to great advantage. The film really succeeds, however, because of Bette Davis. She blows Joan Crawford out of the water in this movie, although to be fair Davis from the start had the meatier role. Her garish appearance and screeching voice deliver the chills to the nth degree, and her progressive decline into total insanity is shocking and absolutely convincing. Davis was nominated for an Academy Award for her disturbing portrayal of Jane Hudson, and rightfully so. She should have won. I've seen hundreds if not thousands of horror films, and Davis's Jane Hudson ranks as one of the most disturbing characters I have witnessed in any of them.
Sadly, the DVD doesn't give us much in the way of extras aside from cast and crew biographies and a few pages of text describing the production. Then again, it's unlikely we would hear about the movie from the primary figures involved in its production since they are all long dead. Perhaps a commentary track with a film historian or a similar person could have been put on the disc; I know of other films that do this. Anyway, if you haven't seen this film you've got to run, not walk, to get a copy. It's that good, it's that disturbing, and it's that memorable.
A classic gets special treatment!
R. Pepper | Los Angeles | 03/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I decided to include this description in case Amazon doesn't put it up right away. Here is what is included on the new 'Baby Jane' Special Edition DVD due out May 30th, 2006!
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) - The legendary dispute between rival divas Bette Davis and Joan Crawford fuelled the fire both on- and off-screen in Director Robert Aldrich's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Its Grand Guignol story of an aging ex-vaudeville child star (Davis) waging a psychotic reign of terror over her crippled ex-movie star sister (Crawford) became a smash hit and nabbed Davis her 10th Academy Award nomination for her acid portrayal of the title role. Nominated for an impressive five Academy Awards (winning for Best Costume Design), Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is a mirthful masterpiece of the macabre.
DVD Special Features: New 16x9 digital transfer from the original camera negative and restored audio elements (Enhanced for widescreen televisions) Commentary by author and film historian , Charles Busch and film historian John Epperson (a/k/a "Lypsinka") 3 fabulous documentary profiles of the movie and its 2 immortal stars: Bette and Joan: Blind Ambition (A new making-of documentary) All About Bette, Biographical profile, hosted by Jodie Foster Film Profile: Joan Crawford Vintage featurette "Behind the Scenes with Baby Jane" The Andy Williams Show Theatrical Trailer Languages: English & Français Subtitles: English, Français & Español (feature film only) "
Celebrity Death Match
Michael M. Wilk | Howard Beach, NY | 06/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" opened the floodgates for low-budget black-and-white psychological shockers in the early 1960s. William Castle's "Homicidal", Hammer Films' "Paranoiac" and "Nightmare", and Francis Ford Coppola's "Dementia 13" were just a few of these gritty and grisly films. Robert Aldrich, known for making rather macho films such as "Kiss Me Deadly", decided to produce a film based on Henry Farrell's book "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" and had a gimmick of his own that gave Hitchcock and Castle a run for their money: he cast 2 legendary Oscar-winning actresses whose "glory days" were, for the most part, behind them...Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Davis' and Crawford's careers had fallen on hard times, and the two, to put it mildly, detested each other. Who better to play a crippled, former glamourous movie star and her sister, an alcoholic, demented, former vaudeville child star? Miss Davis gives one of her most outrageous performances as Baby Jane Hudson, chewing the scenery with relish and looking almost unbearably ugly (Miss Davis, in her own words, "Laid the makeup on with a shovel"), wears unflattering, grotesque outfits (deliberately made a half-size too small to emphasize her dumpy figure) and a blonde Mary Pickford-style wig, which, unknown to her, had been worn by Miss Crawford in one of her early MGM films! Miss Crawford plays her role of Blanche Hudson with equal gusto, suffering and emoting grandly, as if her very life depended on it. This is a grande dame battle royale, there's no mistaking it! "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" became a smash hit, garnered Davis an Oscar nomination, and launched a new trend of films which starred older actresses in a variety of low-budget shockers. DeHavilland, Stanwyck, Fontaine, and Tallulah Bankhead all went the "horror hag" route. Warner Brothers has reissued "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" in a special 2-disc edition, and is a real treat for Davis and Crawford fans. The film itself looks wonderful, with excellent picture and sound quality. The extras? They are a-plenty, tho THIS hag wishes there had been even more! A new documentary entitled "Bette and Joan: Blind Ambition", features interviews with various film scholars and biographers, including the brilliant drag artiste/playwright John "Lypsinka" Epperson, and actor/playwright Charles Busch. The other features include the Turner documentary "All About Bette", hosted by Jodie Foster; a segment from "The Andy Williams Show" featuring Miss Davis singing "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (in which she looks like female impersonator Charles Pierce!); "Star Profile: Joan Crawford", an interview for British TV filmed at the time Miss Crawford was filming "Berserk!"; and a short feature entitled "Behind the scenes of Baby Jane", made during the filming. Also on the DVD is an audio commentary by Mr Epperson and Mr. Busch, who provide a lot of witty and interesting anecdotes concerning the film. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were larger-than-life ladies who had long careers in a male-dominated industry. They had drive, talent, and b***s. And so, my hat's off to both of them, they should be happy to know that they're still famous, and people are still watching their movies and getting immense enjoyment from them...and that's not even including the "straight" people!"
But you are, Blanche. You ARE in that chair!
Astrid Slomova | Louisiana | 07/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one great movie! "What Ever Happened to BabyJane?" is, as stated in Amazon's description, the story of twoaging sisters, each in her own way connected with show business.Now the good stuff. The sisters are played by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (the only time the two ever acted together) to absolute perfection. Crawford is wonderful in the role of crippled sister Blanche, but Miss Davis absolutely walks away with the show as the former "Baby" Jane Hudson. The role is meatly and she revels in it! It is obvious that Miss Davis held the philosophy that, if you are going to go over-the-top, don't apologize. And she doesn't. She goes WAY over-the-top with a gleeful abandon that is infectious.The way she taunts her wheelchair-bound sister (the title quotes one of Jane's best lines), serves her meals of dead rodents and ex-pets, kicks her in the gut, mocks her ever-so-proper speech, etc. It's all so delicious. And check out the ballet that she does to one of the songs from her childhood vaudeville act. Bette Davis was obviously having the time of her life, and so do the viewers of this classic.For the DVD edition, there are disappointingly few extras, but Davis is credited with developing the absolutely hideous hair and makeup combinations she sports while slouching about the house in her scuffs and house coat (Director Robert Aldrich said that, while he loved the look, he never would have had the nerve to suggest such a thing to Bette Davis).Joan Crawford was in fine form, as well. But for Jane to be able to be credible doing the things she did, Blanche had to be the "straight man". Crawford or Aldrich knew this and Blanche behaves accordingly. Consequently, it is Bette Davis' Jane who has the best lines and the showier part in general.If you have never seen this movie, get it. If you have, go back and visit the Hudson sisters again. Then you might want to write a letter to YOUR daddy."