Review: What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)


Scary, scary old lady you need to stay the heck away from me, nah screw that, you need to be in a different country than me!

Screenplay By: Lukas Heller
Directed By: Robert Aldrich

To steal a phrase from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when I first saw What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? I was left with an extreme case of the wiggins. This movie was one of the creepiest and macabre movies I had ever experienced and it still holds up years later. It is a study of insanity and it is an instance where a pair of actresses going maudlin in every scene perfectly fits the movie. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis hated each other off screen and they brought that into their characters, because Blanche and Jane hate each other. Bette Davis takes her role to the edges of complete insanity and beyond, she wants you to fear Jane Hudson, and we do fear Jane Hudson and abhor her at the same time. Joan Crawford takes a different approach, she chooses to mislead and trick the audience. We feel for poor crippled Blanche Hudson, but as the movie progresses we realize that she is an enabler and that underneath her vulnerable exterior lies someone who is devilish in her own way. Then the ultimate kicker comes when we realize that Blanche was a prisoner for a reason and that she made Jane a prisoner because of her own selfishness. Both women are superb in their roles and they are completely over the top because actresses placed in their situations would be over the top, that’s what they know after all.

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? is a black comedy, suspense thriller and a horror flick all in one. Some people may not find What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? to be very funny, but it is right within my black comedy sensibilities. Watching the descent into madness of Jane is a harrowing experience that also provides laughs of the purely dark and sinister variety. The actions of Blanche create a realm of suspense, we wonder why Blanche allows her sister to treat her with such disrespect, we suspect there must be some larger reason and we wait to find out what that reason is. The introduction of the other characters adds to the suspense because we want them to find out the truth for us and it always appears as if they will stumble onto the events that are transpiring in the Hudson household. The horror comes from Jane of course, her insanity accompanied by the sneers and maniacal laughter. The bird and rat dinners, her violent actions, Jane is a horror show unto herself.

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? is a very dark film and it isn’t for everyone. Some people will undoubtedly be turned off by its macabre sense of humor, while others won’t get the same sense of suspense or view the horror present and instead will see lots of maudlin actions. But, I am a fan of the macabre and I found the story of Jane and Blanche Hudson captivating and thrilling to watch in a grotesque way. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? is a fine movie and a dark film for those who appreciate that sort of film making, give it a shot, you might enjoy it.




3 responses to “Review: What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)

  1. Story has it that in the scene where Davis serves Crawford up a rat as lunch, that she had arranged for a real rat to be put in … much to Crawford’s disgust. Crawford retaliated. In the scene where Davis has to carry Crawford down the stairs, Crawford put rocks in her pockets to weight her down.

    I love this pair.

  2. Yes, I had read about both of those, it’s amazing how much these two women truly despised one another.

  3. Pingback: Postulating & Pontificating: Horror Bonanza! | Bill's Movie Emporium

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