REVIEW: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)



Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962): A

I have to apologize for yesterday’s review of “Mommie Dearest”. Apparently there WAS a real Joan Crawford and she was in the movies and she really DID like to make her children eat raw steak.

And also, she’s in this movie.

In a twist, she’s the one getting psychologically and physically abused. The abuser is her sister who doesn’t like her because she’s crippled and used to be more famous.

One thing I like is the way this movie handles the cripple. It’s hard to do cripples right because the line between pathetic and funny is just gossamer thin. This movie goes the pathetic route and….nails it! Joan Crawford played a scared, abused, helpless person really well. Maybe she was using her daughter for inspiration, I don’t know. But it works.

The sister is played by Bette Davis from the classic late 80’s nighttime soap opera “Arthur Hailey’s Hotel”. But apparently she was famous for other things before that and one of those is this movie and another is some fetish movie from way back in the 30’s.

Anyway, the sister is a fucked up child star from the 10’s who used to be known as “Baby Jane Hudson”. She had a creepy singing act with her father. They also made dolls that were exact replicas of her 8-year old body and sold them to people who liked to have them. She tried to make the switch to movie stardom in the 30’s, but she hella sucked. Meanwhile, Joan Crawford, who was the ugly duckling sister when Baby Jane was a star, made it as a respected actress.

But then Joan Crawford gets crippled, and Baby Jane has to take care of her and as the movie opens they’ve been shut-ins for the last thirty years.

They have a nice house and are still rich. They’re still so rich, Baby Jane gets liquor delivered to the door! Then she falls in love with this fat British piano player and starts to plan a comeback and gets meaner to Joan Crawford, who can’t do jack because of the crippling.

Bette Davis is way nuts in this movie and is scary as hell. She wears children’s clothes and dances around and plays with dolls of herself. Baby Jane also serves dead animals to Joan Crawford, who apparently had given up meat because this upsets her.

So there’s lots of tension and well-done suspense but the movie ends with Baby Jane’s dream of being watched by a crowd again coming true, even though she’s just spinning around on the beach with an ice cream cone in each hand.

And Joan Crawford gets a long rest. The final shot is really touching.

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