What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (film)

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (film)

name = What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

caption = Original poster
writer = Lukas Heller
Based on the novel by Henry Farrell
starring = Bette Davis
Joan Crawford
Victor Buono
director = Robert Aldrich
producer = Robert Aldrich
distributor = Warner Bros.
music = Frank DeVol
cinematography = Ernest Haller
editing = Michael Luciano
released = flagicon|USA October 31, 1962
runtime = 134 minutes
country = United States
language = English
amg_id = 1:54018
imdb_id = 0056687
budget =

"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" is a 1962 American drama film produced and directed by Robert Aldrich. The screenplay by Lukas Heller is based on the novel of the same name by Henry Farrell. In 2003, the character of Baby Jane Hudson was ranked #44 on the American Film Institute's list of the "50 Best Villains of American Cinema".


In a lengthy prologue, we are introduced to six-year-old Baby Jane Hudson, a highly successful vaudeville performer, and her older sister Blanche, who remains in her shadow. As the two become adults, however, Jane fades into obscurity while Blanche becomes a renowned film actress. At the height of her career, Blanche is paralyzed in an automobile accident for which the alcoholic Jane is held responsible.

As the years pass, the two become recluses in their decaying mansion, where Jane cares for Blanche. When she learns Blanche is planning to sell the house and perhaps place her in a home, Jane holds her prisoner and subjects her to sadistic verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. Becoming increasingly demented, she thwarts Blanche's efforts to contact the neighbor and kills their maid Elvira when she becomes aware of the situation.

Jane decides to stage a comeback and hires shiftless pianist Edwin Flagg to accompany her. Although he immediately realizes she has no talent, he goes along with her plan in order to earn his fee. When he discovers Blanche gagged and bound in her bedroom and flees from the house, Jane fears he may call the police and drives Blanche to a nearby beach. While lying in the blazing sun, the slowly dying Blanche confesses she had been trying to run over Jane with the car and was in fact responsible for her own paralysis. As a crowd gathers and the police arrive, the now completely deranged Jane begins to entertain them with the song-and-dance routine that made her a childhood star.

Production notes

The pairing of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford was, by most accounts, suggested by Crawford, who had worked with Robert Aldrich on "Autumn Leaves" in 1956 and claimed she had always wanted to work with Davis. The tension between Blanche and Jane onscreen was equaled by the rivalry between the two stars offscreen. The women reportedly bickered over salaries and who would receive top billing. A great deal of friction was apparently also generated mid-production by their very different acting styles - Davis played Baby Jane to the excessive, hysterical hilt, while Crawford tended to cower and remain passive and understated. [ [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=95445&category=Articles "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" at Turner Classic Movies] ]

The house used for the exterior of the Hudson mansion was located at 172 South McCadden Place in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles. The final scene on the beach was shot in Malibu.

The small role of the neighbor's daughter was played by Davis' daughter B.D. Merrill who, following in the footsteps of Crawford's daughter Christina, later wrote a memoir that depicted her mother in a very unfavorable light.

Crawford was infuriated when Davis was nominated for an Oscar and she was overlooked. She contacted the Best Actress nominees who were unable to attend the ceremonies and offered to accept the award on their behalf should they win. When Anne Bancroft was declared the winner for "The Miracle Worker", Crawford triumphantly pushed her way past Davis and swept onstage to pick up the trophy. Davis later commented, "It would have meant a million more dollars to our film if I had won. Joan was thrilled I hadn't." ["Mother Goddam: The Story of the Career of Bette Davis" by Whitney Stine, with a running commentary by Bette Davis, Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1974, ISBN 0-8015-5184-6, pp. 296-297] .

The film's success led to other projects featuring psychotic women, directed and/or produced by Aldrich, including "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte" and "What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?".

The film was remade as a 1991 television movie starring real-life sisters Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave.


*Bette Davis ..... Jane Hudson
*Joan Crawford ..... Blanche Hudson
*Victor Buono ..... Edwin Flagg
*Maidie Norman ..... Elvira Stitt
*Anna Lee ..... Mrs. Bates

Critical reception

In his review in the "New York Times", Bosley Crowther observed, " [Davis and Crawford] do get off some amusing and eventually blood-chilling displays of screaming sororal hatred and general monstrousness ... The feeble attempts that Mr. Aldrich has made to suggest the irony of two once idolized and wealthy females living in such depravity, and the pathos of their deep-seated envy having brought them to this, wash out very quickly under the flood of sheer grotesquerie." [ [http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/54018/What-Ever-Happened-to-Baby-Jane-/overview "New York Times" review] ]

"Variety" stated, "Although the results heavily favor Davis (and she earns the credit), it should be recognized that the plot, of necessity, allows her to run unfettered through all the stages of oncoming insanity ... Crawford gives a quiet, remarkably fine interpretation of the crippled Blanche, held in emotionally by the nature and temperament of the role." [ [http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117796282.html?categoryid=31&cs=1&query=what+ever+happened+to+baby+jane "Variety" review] ]

"TV Guide" awarded the film four stars, calling it "Star wars, trenchantly served" and adding, "If it sometimes looks like a poisonous senior citizen show with over-the-top spoiled ham, just try to look away ... As in the best Hitchcock movies, suspense, rather than actual mayhem, drives the film." [ [http://movies.tvguide.com/happened-baby-jane/review/122673 "TV Guide" review] ]

Awards and nominations

*Academy Award for Best Actress (Bette Davis, nominee)
*Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Victor Buono, nominee)
*Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Black and White (winner)
*Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Black and White (nominee)
*Academy Award for Best Sound (nominee)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama (Davis, nominee)
*Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture (Buono, nominee)


name = Joan Crawford
title = Joan Crawford filmography
group1 = 1940-1949
list1 = nowrap| "Strange Cargo" (1940) • nowrap| "Susan and God" (1940) • nowrap| "A Woman's Face" (1941) • nowrap| "When Ladies Meet" (1941) • nowrap| "They All Kissed the Bride" (1942) • nowrap| "Reunion in France" (1942) • nowrap| "Above Suspicion" (1943) • nowrap| "Hollywood Canteen" (1944) • nowrap| "Mildred Pierce" (1945) • nowrap| "Humoresque" (1946) • nowrap| "Possessed" (1947) • nowrap| "Daisy Kenyon" (1947) • nowrap| "Flamingo Road" (1949) • nowrap| "It's a Great Feeling" (1949)
name = Joan Crawford
title = The 1940-1970 Films of Miss Joan Crawford
group2 = 1950-1959
list2 = nowrap| "The Damned Don't Cry!" (1950) • nowrap| "Harriet Craig" (1950) • nowrap| "Goodbye, My Fancy" (1951) • nowrap| "This Woman is Dangerous" (1952) • nowrap| "Sudden Fear" (1952) • nowrap| "Torch Song" (1953) • nowrap| "Johnny Guitar" (1954) • nowrap| "Female on the Beach" (1955) • nowrap| "Queen Bee" (1955) • nowrap| "Autumn Leaves" (1956) • nowrap| "The Story of Esther Costello" (1957) • nowrap| "The Best of Everything" (1959)
name = Joan Crawford
title = The 1940-1970 Films of Miss Joan Crawford
group3 = 1960-1969
list3 = nowrap| "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) • nowrap| "The Caretakers" (1963) • nowrap| "Strait-Jacket" (1964) • nowrap| "I Saw What You Did" (1965) • nowrap| "Berserk!" (1967)
group4 = 1970
list4 = nowrap| "Trog" (1970)

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