Home > Uncategorized > Sunday Screening 21: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Sunday Screening 21: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Sorry for posting this a day late.  This week’s selection is chose by frequent commenter, LMM!  So I’ll just let her take it away:

Enjoy the film!

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. LMM
    April 9, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    It was my fault the announcement was late, technical difficulties. Can’t wait to talk about it!

  2. April 12, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    Thanks for the Intro Lisa!

    I sat down and watched the film yesterday, and it was pretty interesting. Much darker then I expected from a movie made during that time-frame. The actresses were amazing in their portrayal of their characters. I honestly don’t have much to say about it at this point, but I look forward to seeing what everyone else though of it.

    Happy Monday!

  3. April 12, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    I’m not finished with the film yet. My time management has gotten pretty shoddy these days. I’ll blame Census work and apartment hunting. Anyway, I’m pretty impressed by what I’ve seen so far. I’m not typically into the whole family drama genre, but I really like the bitterness of Jane and how dark it all is. I especially like that Jane starts as the famous one and it switches around, but eventually leaves Jane as the physically viable one, if not mentally.

    I’m quite intrigued to see how it all plays out. I haven’t looked into it yet, but I hope Bette Davis was a sweetheart in between takes.

  4. LMM
    April 13, 2010 at 8:04 AM

    I told you it was creepy…I love it!
    It’s definitely an interesting story. I am most intrigued by how there is the switch from shining star to mental case by Jane, and forgotten to America’s sweetheart by Blanche.

    Here are some things that I wrote down in my viewing.

    The make-up and costumes solidified the characters. Jane was always in dresses that resembled her dolls, and Blanche was elegant. Jane’s makeup was a bit much, and I thought they made her look older than what she really was, but she was pretty much the age of Jane. It added to the fact that Jane was trying to old on to her youth.

    The buzzing from Blanche would drive me up a wall! In a way you can understand why Jane cracked. Not to say she’s wasn’t cracking years ago, but being called constantly by Blanche, and then have Blanche be all polite about it could mess anyone up.
    Which brings me to a point I had recently realized. I wonder how much of Jane’s tortured soul was her holding on to her youth, or pushed little by little each year by Blanche. Blanche makes a comment in the very beginning that she will never let Jane forget about the way she was treated. What better way to get back at someone than have them hate you, but you act innocent and sweet just to mess with that contradiction.

    I also loved the concept of being a prisoner in your own home, by your own sister. I don’t think Blanche had intended for Jane to crack as much as she did (to go back a topic), and she’s now paying the price by being held hostage. Not only is she in a wheelchair which limits her movement, but now she can’t even leave her room. That alone would freak me out.

    Betty Davis is absolutely amazing, brilliant as the Jane. My favorite part of the film.

  5. April 13, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    I definitely thought about who is the real “evil” one early on, which came to the forefront on the beach. Clearly, they are both disturbed psyches. It’s interesting to see how willing people are to dismiss someone’s point of view because they are a bit batty (as I certainly did with Jane).

    I don’t know why I didn’t check this film out before, as I love Robert Aldrich’s films. It was cool he returned to his Kiss Me Deadly climax location for the climax of this film.

    I know I commented earlier that I hoped Bette Davis was a saint on sent between takes, but I can’t imagine how that set must’ve operated given that the leads hated each other.

    One thing I kind of love is when movies have a prologue of sorts prior to the credits. I like the surprise of the credits popping up 12 minutes into the movie.

    I don’t know if this was intentional, but I felt like at the end, Blanche’s makeup got craggier and more disgusting when she was revealing she wrecked the car and Jane’s got a little better once the revelation was made.

    • LMM
      April 14, 2010 at 8:41 AM

      For having paid attention to the makeup early on in the film, I didn’t even notice the change in the end. That’s a very interesting thought. It’s a subtle way to show the shift in crazy between the sisters. I haven’t read anything about that part of the production, but it makes sense.

      There are books and essays of this production, and have added them to my growing wish list.
      Just reading about the tension on set made me nervous, I can’t imagine actually being on set during the production. If you’re ever on a production and it’s bad, you can think “at least it’s not Davis and Crawford.”
      My favorite was the rocks and Pepsi stunts.

      I do like the prologues being pushed back into the story than right at the beginning. You are drawn more into the story and the characters when you meet them straight away.
      I kept thinking about the stars now-a-days who have younger siblings, or siblings period who are also in show business. Sibling rivalry is always present, but when you through show business in the mix, it could get very interesting.

  6. April 14, 2010 at 11:29 PM

    Sorry for getting to this so late.

    Excellent movie choice, Lisa. Seeing this film now made me wonder why I had never seen the film before. I love the dark psychological nature of the film. It’s very engrossing. You have these two fascinatingly disturbed characters in a very interesting situation – just cooped up in this house together. I find that really interesting. You can’t look away.

    Bette Davis’ makeup, character, acting, everything, was over the top, and perhaps too distracting, but I get the feeling that’s what the filmmakers were going for. It certainly provided a good contrast with Joan Crawford’s more seemingly subdued character. I enjoyed Crawford’s more restrained performance better than Davis’, maybe because it left a little more to the imagination, felt a little more complex.

    I find it amusing that Crawford and Davis hated each other during this shoot. It may have actually aided their performances in a way.

    One comment I’ll make is that I wish there was less music in the film. I felt it needlessly accentuated intense scenes that would’ve been fine all on their own. And when it was there, it sometimes just felt out-of-place.

    I wish more psychological films like this were made nowadays. The violent characterizations and personalities were more than enough to drive the film and power its tension and suspenseful scenes. It’s a terrifying cat-and-mouse game all on its own. There was no need for scenes of excessive violence or an in-your-face visual style.

    After being cooped up in that house the whole movie, having the final scene on a wide open beach was a wise move. Perfect setting for the revelation, and it affords the opportunity for a new visual twist on Jane’s madness, having her dance around with ice cream cones like a little kid, and on Blanche’s imprisonment, lying on the beach like a dying fish.

    • LMM
      April 15, 2010 at 11:53 AM

      Yea! I’m glad everyone has enjoyed this movie.

      I also agree that there needs to be more PSY thrillers. The mind is a crazy thing to begin with, you don’t need to add any other element to creep you out.
      I think foreign films still do this, more notably recent Swedish films. I enjoyed both Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Let The Right One In (both being re-made, dammit). I know LTROI is a bit violent, but the scenes between the little girl and boy were the most intense for me.

      • April 15, 2010 at 3:12 PM

        If you dig movies of a psychological nature about people trapped in an enclosed space, look no further than Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy: Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Tenant. All worth seeing.

  7. April 16, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    I definitely need to catch up on claustrophobic psychological thrillers. Thanks for the recommendations. And I agree that one of the reasons why Let The Right One In is so great is because of its intense character relationships.

  8. LMM
    April 16, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    I love Rosemary’s Baby! but need to see the other ones. Will definitely put them on my list.

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