47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Robert Aldrich, USA, 1962, 132 minutes
Robert Aldrich's famous black comedy lives up to its reputation of being far-fetched yet fascinating and thoroughly entertaining. It stars two legitimate all-time screen greats, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, both of whom had been stars for over 30 years, as elderly sisters sharing a house is sixties America. Both play former movie stars; Blanche Hudson (Crawford) is crippled and confined to a wheelchair, and Baby Jane Hudson (Davis) is completely demented.
The film starts with a prologue, set in the 20's, where the Hudson sisters' father is eagerly promoting the talents of young "Baby Jane", a Shirley Temple-type singer and actress. Blanche can only look on jealously, and vow to be famous one day. The scene then shifts to the 1930's. Baby Jane has had a run of success as a child, but now grown up is washed and forgotten by her fans. Blanche is really popular as movie star, having lived up to her vow. Then there is mysterious car accident...
The scene shifts again to "Yesterday", where cripple Blanche lives with Jane, who is still trying to regain her fame. Resentful of her sister, Jane embarks on a series of psychological and physical tortures, such as feeding her rats and throwing her down stairs. Gradually, Jane gets worse and worse as Blanche's efforts to calm her fail, until she eventually goes too far...
This film fuelled rumours about the feud between Crawford and Davis ("I wouldn't piss on Crawford if she was on fire") which stretched way back to the 30's. Some of the slaps and kicks were supposedly real; either way the actresses mutual hate made them both give excellent performances.
Review by Martin Hunt
Taken from EUFS Programme 1992-93