2017 Blind Spot Series: What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?


What I knew going in: I knew of the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Also stupid trivia fact: This was the movie playing at the theater in the House of Wax remake.

Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) was once a child star. At some point, her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) became a better actress and took all the limelight. Not wanting to be a brat like Jane, Blanche wrote it in her contract that Jane must get a movie every time she does. Years later, Blanche is confined to a wheelchair and relies on her sister, now a serious drunk for help. 

I wanted to see this one before Feud started airing on FX.(I watched this in February) I'm so glad I rushed because it was amazing. Davis is absolutely marvelous as the washed up Jane. Crawford's Blanche gets to be very kind and pleasant, so it's Davis that gets to have all the fun.

The way the film is shot is very dated. It tries hard to avoid any type of gore that could stem from the story, but the atmosphere is perfect. The ending came as a shock to me, and I found it morbidly fascinating in the same way I enjoyed Sunset Boulevard. If the film has one fault, it's a subplot surrounding a piano player (Victor Buono) who comes in to help Jane with her come back. The story itself makes sense, but Buono is so terrible that I'm shocked he was given an Oscar nomination for this. Luckily, it's such a small part it's easy to ignore his acting and focus on the real stars of the show.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "Oh Blanche, you know we have rats in the cellar?" - Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis)

16 comments:

  1. I'm glad there no gore as this film doesn't need it. I don't think it is dated in this way and it is a wicked ending isn't it? Joan Crawford was one mean bitch and her ego couldn't handle if someone else got the glory. (ask Mercedes McAmbridge). Betty Davis loved a good fight and would love to egg someone on. One thing though, Betty Davis didn't mind looking "ugly" and she helped create her make-up here because the make up people were a bit too scared to make her look ugly. I read that in one of my books and heard Betty Davis say this in an interview once

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    1. Yep! I read that too. I love seeing their relationship play out on Feud right now. You're right the movie doesn't need the gore, I kind of expected it the way people talked about it prior though.

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  2. So glad you liked it! i only saw it once years ago but it's one of my all time favorites. The acting was absolutely spectacular. And yeah it reminded me of Sunset B. in a way too!

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    1. I'd really like to own this and Sunset Blvd. I watched both online lol.

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  3. I recently watched Feud: Bette and Joan and get feally curious about this film. That behind-the-scene feud in the making of this film is intriguing; therefore, I'm intrigued to watch this. And your review got me confidence to peep at this one since I am really a sucker for classic cinema, let alone, black and white film. One more thing, I'm attached to Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange's performance in portraying both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford respectively. Really wonder how the portrayed actress acted in this film, despite the feud.

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    1. The acting in this film is great. It's one I'm probably going to purchase. I loved it so much.

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  4. I'm really going to need to see this Feud!

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  5. I haven't seen this although I'm not sure I want to see Feud as I'm not a fan of Ryan Murphy's work. I am interested in the film just to see 2 ladies who loathe each other make a film together.

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    1. I haven't seen all of Murphy's work, only Feud and American Crime Story, which I enjoy. I haven't watched AHS or Scream Queens.

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  6. I haven't seen this in a few years but can't wait to revisit it after Feud. Happy to see you liked this one! The acting is spectacular! :)

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    1. It is! I need to own this on DVD now. lol

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  7. I agree about Victor Buono. Should've mentioned that in my BABY JANE post. His was not an Oscar-caliber performance at all.

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  8. At the time it was made this was considered very violent and ghoulish even if it seems tame today. I think the lack of gore is a plus, however I always think that, but in this case it opens the film up to a wider audience. I remember watching it years ago with my mother, probably my second or third time but her first, and she would have never made it to the end if it had been gory. Since it wasn't she really was able to enjoy the film and when it was over commented "That Bet Davis is one amazing actress."

    It's sad and compelling, and the decision to film in B&W whether it was an monetary choice or an artistic decision was the proper one. Color would have made it less creepy. Davis's is the showcase performance, but then Jane has the flash, but I think without Crawford's studied gravitas and controlled fear the film wouldn't work nearly as well.

    It's a shame that the film didn't resurrect their careers equally but I think Bette was willing to work through the rough patch AND take supporting roles until her late career return to quality TV projects whereas Joan held out for the star spot even if it meant appearing in dreck. One thing you have to give her though no matter how shoddy the surrounding or material she always gave 110%.

    While this was the kick off for the unfortunately tagged Hag Horror cycle of films which were often terrible since you liked this so much I'd recommend what was supposed to be the team's follow-up "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" which Joan dropped out of shortly after filming began and Olivia de Havilland step in for her. It's not quite as good as this one but is a solid film.

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    1. I'll have to check that out. I agree with the black and white choice, and I normally don't. I prefer films in color.

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