June 2, 2016


Classics REVIEW: What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?

Tremendous acting from two mega stars create an intense story of culpability and self-imposed misery instigated by jealousy and plagued with guilt. The film showcases the unsettling relationship between two sisters who are bound together through a history of sibling rivalry boiling over into emotional abuse.

Bette Davis plays Baby Jane, a has-been child star whose only positive memories reside in the dreams from that young girl she once was—while her adult life is burdened with the everyday chores of caring for a sister she resents.

Joan Crawford’s Blanche is confined to a wheel chair, held prisoner by a mentally ill sister and the stair case that looms below her second floor bedroom. Unlike Baby Jane, Blanche wasn’t a talented child; however, as an adult she came into her own and evolved into a talented actress with an incredible future ahead of her, until the car accident where the cops found her on the ground and a drunken Baby Jane missing from the scene.

Blanche watches her old movies and remembers those glory days while Baby Jane trashes those movies because she, the child star, was supposed to be famous. It should have been her, not Blanche. And so the two sisters are locked in a struggle where Baby Jane controls everything and torments her sister on a daily basis.

The contrast between the two actresses is electric. Joan Crawford is under the current. She performs with a controlled calmness. And in fear of her own life, she can’t help but crack and even crumble under the strain as she tries to tame her sister’s insanity. As opposed to Bette Davis, who’s portrayal of Baby Jane is like a storm brewing on its best days—and on its worse, a hurricane thrashing against the current.

Rumor has it that the two stars didn’t get along in real life and maybe that added to the brilliance displayed on screen.

The film delves into the psyche of Baby Jane that showed a descent into madness that was unnerving to watch. The focusing of the camera on things like the stair case, the phone and the mirror helped build the tension and, in some, cases create a creepiness that had you on the edge of your seat. And there were moments of shock and horror as the film progressed albeit with a couple of exaggerated incidences.

“What Ever Happened To Baby Jane” is a psychological horror that makes bold choices to demonstrate the extremes of an destructive rivalry between two sisters.

Score: 9.25/10


About Lisa

Passionate about movies and writing. Hopes to someday be a published writer. So when she's not staring at the tube, she's spilling her imagination onto a blank page.

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