June 1, 2009

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Watched May 31, 2009

A jealous, insane child star keeps her crippled sister hostage in an old Hollywood mansion.

"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" probably won't be of much interest to younger viewers who need explosions every two minutes to keep their attention, but for everyone else, this is a nice thriller with amazing performances by the two leading ladies.

Any film that can keep my attention for 133 minutes straight deserves some sort of accolade. Especially when the film is primarily dialogue-based, and has only a few fleeting action scenes. But "Baby Jane" kept my attention throughout its entire running time, which must be a testament to the fact that it's a really good film.

The aspect of the film that is the best, in my opinion, is the acting. Both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are amazing in their parts of, respectively, the child star who is living in a dream world where everyone remembers her and loves her, and the tortured sister in a wheelchair that grew up to be much more famous than her sister. Davis steals the movie, though. In my opinion, she's spot-on in her portrayal of Baby Jane Hudson. She alternates perfectly between happy child star living in the past who wants to reclaim her fame, to insane monster brutally beating her sister and locking her in her room to starve to death. Some may call her performance a little over the top, but I didn't. I thought it was riveting and definitely made the movie more memorable. The very last scene is just haunting, yet hilarious at the same time.

Crawford is amazing as well, and you truly get that feeling of entrapment when you are with her character. She has nowhere to go, as her current lack of working legs truly limits her surroundings. You feel for her throughout the movie, and hope she can make it through her predicament alive.

Apparently, Davis and Crawford weren't exactly the best of friends off-camera either, and there are even sources saying that Davis actually beat up Crawford during the on-camera beating. There are many stories about the two playing mean tricks on each other during filming, and you kind of have to wonder how much of the intense hate portrayed on screen was actually real-life hatred.

However, the film is a little dated. A lot of the "shocking" scenes have lost most of their impact nowadays. The rat in the food scene isn't particularly shocking anymore, and a lot of other scenes just seem kind of stupid due to today's viewers being pretty desensitized and all that. However, the performances by both leading women make the dated shocks better, and the rat scene is saved by Davis' insane cackling and Crawford's desperate screams.

Also, it helps that the film's plot feels like it could actually happen in real life, and it adds a layer of realism to the film. Just a quick comment.

Okay, I'm done reviewing this one. It's good. I think you should probably go see it, unless you are only entertained by horror if it has constant exploding heads. More on exploding heads later, as my next review is for "Chopping Mall". Muhaha. Anyways, I'll rant about exploding heads in my next review. Back to "Baby Jane". The film's pretty much a classic, especially because of the amazing Oscar-worthy performances. Sure, the film's a bit slow-moving and dated, but it's still good enough to praise. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" earns:

4 out of 5 chainsaws (VERY GOOD, SEE IT)

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