Classic Suspense Thriller
- What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? review by GI
A taut, suspense thriller with the undertones of gothic horror and two remarkable central performances. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford play two ageing sisters, Jane and Blanche, who live together in a decaying Beverley Hills mansion. Jane was a child vaudeville star with their father who doted on her but she failed to make it as an adult movie actress. Whereas Blanche, ignored by her father, did become a much beloved film star but after an incident in their car was left paralysed from the waist down. Now Jane, out of a deep rooted jealousy, embittered, alcoholic and bordering on psychosis torments Blanche who is unable to leave her room. As Jane's madness becomes more extreme Blanche is desperate to get help but has no way of communicating with anyone outside the house. Filmed in black and white the film has the feel of a haunted house story and Davis' caked make up makes her a grotesque and frightening figure whilst there are elements of her performance that draw in sympathy, it is an outstanding performance. The story is a dig at the Hollywood lifestyle and the destruction that celebrity and fame can cause and in that sense there's a sort of irony in the casting of two of America's major female stars from the classic years of Hollywood. Crawford is equally good here, a former glamour actress she almost plays herself but shows the vulnerability of her character in her desperation to control her sister's more violent rages. This is a dark tale, wonderfully directed and controlled to build the tension. It's a masterpiece of 60s American cinema and definitely a film you should see.
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