Sunday, September 1, 2013

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

1962 American Feature

Cast: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono, Maidie Norman, Anna Lee, Marjorie Bennett, Dave Willock, Julie Allred and Gina Gillespie
Director: Robert Aldrich
Writer: Lukas Heller, based on the book by Henry Farrell

The Hudson sisters share a decaying Hollywood mansion, where former child star Jane remains lost in her deranged childhood fantasies. When a car crash leaves her sister Blanche wheelchair-bound, the increasingly psychotic Jane seizes the opportunity to settle an old score.


  • Internet Movie Database: 8.0/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes - Critics: 91% / Audience: 89%
  • OMG rating: 8/10

  • DVD/Blu-ray: Available
  • Book: Available


  • Academy Award for Best Costume Design - Black and White; also nominated for Best Actress (Davis), Supporting Actor (Buono), Cinematography - Black and White and Sound.
  • BAFTA Award nominations for Best Foreign Actress (Davis and Crawford).
  • Directors Guild of America nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures.
  • Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress - Drama (Davis) and Supporting Actor (Buono).

  • Henry Farrell's novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was first published in 1960.
  • When Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were first suggested for the leads in this film, Warner Bros. studio head Jack L. Warner replied: "I wouldn't give a plugged nickel for either one of those two old broads."
  • Casting Call: Peter Lawford.
  • Longtime rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford continued their feud on the set of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, culminating on Oscar night the following year, where Davis was nominated for Best Actress but Crawford was not. A jealous Crawford reportedly actively campaigned against Davis for the win (which would have made her the first actress to win three Academy Awards), even telling the other nominees that if they couldn't make it to the ceremony, that she would accept the award on their behalf. When the envelope was opened, it was announced that Anne Bancroft was the winner (for her performance in The Miracle Worker). With Bancroft absent (she was currently in a Broadway play), legend has it that Crawford swept by Davis on her way to the stage, saying "Excuse me, I have an Oscar to accept".
  • The film's success led to the birth of the "psycho-biddy" sub-genre of horror/thriller films featuring psychotic older women, among them Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (starring Bette Davis), Strait-Jacket (starring Joan Crawford) and Die! Die! My Darling! (starring Tallulah Bankhead).
  • Six years later, director Robert Aldrich and screenwriter Lukas Heller collaborated on another film about an aging actress, The Killing of Sister George.
  • In a 1991 sixth season episode of Designing Women, titled The Strange Case of Clarence and Anita, Mary Jo and Julia star — as Baby Jane and Blanche, respectively — in a stage production of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.
  • Remade for television in 1991 starring sisters Lynn Redgrave as Baby Jane and Vanessa Redgrave as Blanche.
  • In 2001, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was ranked #63 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Thrills" list.
  • In 2003, Baby Jane Hudson was ranked the #44 villain on the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains" list.
  • In 2007, DJ Joel Dickinson remixed Baby Jane's signature song "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" for club play, which became a Halloween favorite.
  • The 2010 film Baby Jane? is an unofficial remake of/homage to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, with the Hudson sisters played by men in drag.

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