What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane
"Towering performances from two of the twentieth century's greatest stars, a mercilessly witty script and direction which pulls no punches - quite simply the greatest melodrama of its era."

Whatever happened to Baby Jane? There was nobody quite like her. A massively popular child star, she grew up into a second rate actress, overshadowed by the beautiful sister on whom she came to depend for financial support. Now it's 1962, her sister has been crippled in a car accident, it's Jane's turn to support her, and Jane is gradually losing her mind.

There's nothing quite like Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? With towering performances from two of the 20th century's greatest stars, a mercilessly witty script and direction which pulls no punches, it's quite simply the greatest melodrama of its era. Coming across on the surface like a brutal pantomime, it's underscored with bitter criticism of the cult of celebrity and of society's expectations of women. It's gleefully OTT on its depiction of suffering and madness, yet both central characters retain a degree of humanity which is genuinely touching. They don't make 'em like this any more.

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"Joan Crawford and I have never been warm friends. We are not simpatico. I admire her, and yet I feel uncomfortable with her. To me, she is the personification of the movie star," said Bette Davis of her co-star - the woman whom, in a less generous mood, she was to accuse of having slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie. The famous rivalry between the two actresses gave this film an onscreen chemistry rarely matched. "Working with Bette Davis was my greatest challenge and I mean that kindly. She liked to scream and yell. I just sit and knit," said Crawford, yet her quiet Blanche is gradually revealed as no more saintly than her sister, and in this understated role Crawford simmers spectacularly.

If you see just one film starring either of these actresses, see this one. "I hope they have been exhibited and withdrawn and are never heard from again," said Crawford of the films she made afterwards. This was the apex of both their careers and it's an unforgettable ride.

Reviewed on: 26 Jan 2008
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Two sisters, a former child star and a now disabled Hollywood actress, are bound together by co-dependency and mutual resentment.
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Director: Robert Aldrich

Writer: Lukas Heller, based on the book by Henry Farrell.

Starring: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono

Year: 1962

Runtime: 135 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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