Thursday, 6 December 2012

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)

Tom:
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane,1962,USA
Director: Robert Aldrich
Stars: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford & Victor Buono

                                          ''Sister, sister, oh so fair, why is there blood all over your hair?''

Film #27 of The December Project

I entered 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane' expecting a 'Sunset Boulevard' type film, and it was just like that, it depicts the price you pay for fame, even at an early age. I don't think I really expected a film on the level of brilliance that 'Sunset Blvd' provides though, but it may have been just that...

Baby Jane Hudson was a famous dancer in her youth, but in her later years she was overshadowed in talent by her sister Blanche who became a successful film star. During the height of her fame, Blanche is injured in a car accident caused by Jane, Now the two live in Hollywood obscurity in a decrepit old mansion as Jane unwillingly and unenthusiastically cares of Blanche, the twos hatred grows ever stronger throughout the film to the point of deadly consequences.

'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane' is such a harrowing and emotive film experience. The film is a portrait of the consequences of child fame and notoriety, this is displayed through Bette Davis' Jane character, she is a huge child star who is wildly popular and beloved and who even has her own range of dolls. But even at that age, she is also shown to be greedy and spoiled while her quiet little sister Blanche is seemingly nice and content. As the two grow their roles are reversed as Jane lives every child stars nightmare and fades into obscurity , while her sister garners acclaim for her acting abilities. The themes of jealousy and deceit are always present through Jane's character and you are always aware how bitter and jealous she is, but as the audience should we pity and sympathize with her or despise her for the horrible and jealously induced wrath aimed at her sister, same with Blanche but for different reasons. Its a beautiful thing when a film is written as to give the audience the option of choosing what we think of a character, and not being so straight to the point.

The beautifully open ended screenplay by Lukas Heller is terrifically brought to the screen by Director Robert Aldrich, the two created such an immensely beautiful and haunting experience, it deals with such a wide spectrum of themes an issues and basically delivers on exploring all of them, weather it be the pain of aging child star,exclusion, loneliness, despair or bitterness, 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane' delivers thanks to its sublime writing and directing duo.

The film is also pretty damn terrifying, its last hour especially is very intense, the threatening tone is almost unbearable. There is so much haunting imagery throughout the film, for instance the deception of the car wreckage from the car accident at the beginning with the broken Jane doll is unforgettably terrifying. As the scenes with Blanche tied helplessly on her bed.

The pair of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford deliver verbal jousting for the duration of the film. The performances are excellent and they do an incredible job conveying such complex characters. The fact that Davis and Crawford were somewhat enemies in real life pretty much enhanced their incredibly hostile sister relationship in the film.

'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane' is such a sad and haunting film. Its masterfully made and features two incredible performances, an unforgettable experience.

****

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