Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte Reviews

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½ July 16, 2013
One would ultimately expect "Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" to be a a weak cash grab in an attempt to recapture the magic set in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", another huge Robert Aldrich/ Bette Davis pairing.  But it isn't so, not even one bit.  Minus Joan Crawford, and one-upped by the presence of an all-star cast, "Hush" stands well as its own film.  It's a fine Southern, melodramatic, black-eyed, cynical, horrific, gothic, and atmospheric film that is ridiculously entertaining.  Its sick sense of humor adds greatly to the benefit of these filthily moraled characters.
In 1927, Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis), a wealthy Southern belle, has an affair with the married John Mayhew (Bruce Dern), and after a long-courtship, he leaves his wife. On the eve of their wedding, John his mysteriously ax-murdered, and all fingers point to Charlotte, thanks to a huge bloodstain on her dress. But with no evidence against her, Charlotte avoids jail-time.
Jump to 1964: Charlotte is now a recluse still living in the mansion of her father (Victor Buono), with her maid, Velma (Agnes Moorehead), as her only friend. Because Charlotte was so traumatized by the incident almost forty-years earlier, she has moments where her sanity is tested. Things come to a head when it's decided to tear down her crumbling mansion. Charlotte calls over her apparently good-natured cousin Miriam (Olivia de Havilland) to help her battle the men eager to pluck her from her home. Just as Miriam arrives, Charlotte's sanity begins to slip dramatically ... but is this only a coincidence?
"Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" is more famous today in part due to the tumultuous off-set relationship between Davis and Joan Crawford. Originally, Crawford was slated to play Miriam, but for "Hush," Davis was a producer. She used this power to make Crawford's life a living hell, with no questions asked. After just a few days on set, Crawford became "ill" and decided that she could no longer take part in the film. That's when Davis suggested her good friend, de Havilland, to take over. And thus, "Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" was made.
It's not an imitation of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", first and foremost. Aldrich was a director with huge talent, and "Hush" shows him using the aging actors involved (nearly all of them were superstars in the 1940s) as a metaphor for characters who are either all washed-up or taking ahold of opportunity whether or not it's the right thing to do. It's a sublime ensemble (especially Moorehead, who is the perfect foil for the classy and stylish de Havilland) that includes some of the most wicked characters ever to come to the screen.
In spite of all of the acting power and black comedy delight, "Hush" is eye-catching and often artistic. The cinematography is soaked with shadows and film noir touches.  Had the film not been photographed in black-and-white, its spookiness would not be the same.  Color would hide the dark corners and decrease the sense of dread that oozes with every shot.  With so much nuttiness on par, the black-and-white levels it down to psychological mayhem that sticks with you long after the film ends.
"Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" isn't as good as "Baby Jane," but it's so entertaining that it won't leave you comparing. Davis is lots of fun; de Havilland is even better.
½ June 10, 2013
Really enjoyed watching this!!
½ April 27, 2013
I have this movie and love it.
March 14, 2013
bette davis at her finest, amazing movie, very dark.
½ February 6, 2013
Remains a distance from terror and even further from cohesive, but it's a trip, alright; see it for Davis and the film's wonderful hysterical energy.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
December 31, 2012
Two years after their huge success with "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962), director Robert Aldrich teamed up once more with Bette Davis to make "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte." The films are so similar that they're often spoken of in the same breath.

They both embody the same type of gothic horror, and both depict two middle-aged women in a battle royale. In "Baby Jane," Davis starred opposite Joan Crawford. (Davis won her 11th and final Oscar nomination for her work in "Jane.") Here it's Olivia de Havilland up against Davis.

Both films also have a campy aspect, making them very popular with middle-aged gay men. But the campiness is not extreme. Straight men fear not: "Jane" and "Charlotte" are serious works of psychological horror that shouldn't be missed. Remember that Aldrich mostly made "guy movies," including "Kiss Me Deadly" (1955), "The Dirty Dozen" (1967), and "The Longest Yard" (1974). Aldrich is no Douglas Sirk.

*****************************

Charlotte, played by Davis, is a woman who has spent most of her adult life as a recluse, after a gruesome murder occurs when she is about 20. She was having an affair with a married man (a very young Bruce Dern), outraging many people, including her father (Victor Buono, who was also in "Baby Jane") and the man's wife (played beautifully by Mary Astor).

When the man dumps her, Charlotte goes into a tailspin of rage and despair, exclaiming, "I could just kill you!" Ten minutes later, the man is attacked by a maniac with a meat cleaver. The big mystery is, Who killed him? The whole state of Louisiana thinks it was Charlotte, and she is shunned by just about everyone. But the case goes unsolved.

This all happens in the first five minutes, in a very quick overture. The vast majority of the film takes place 40 years after the tragedy. Charlotte, who has barely ever left her gloomy mansion in four decades, struggles to keep her home as the state tries to demolish it to make way for a modern highway. Charlotte's only companion is a maid named Velma (brilliantly played by Agnes Moorehead, who should have gotten a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work here).

The semi-educated Charlotte asks her big-city cousin (de Havilland) to come back to the old plantation and help save it. Meanwhile, Charlotte is having more frequent delusions, hearing the voice of her long-departed lover in the spooky, gothic mansion at night. Is someone trying to scare her to death or drive her insane? Or is there something supernatural going on in the house? Or is Charlotte just suffering from a guilty conscience?

All I'll say is that the truth is uncovered, and it's startling. "Charlotte" keeps you guessing to the very end and keeps you on the edge of your seat through some rather macabre goings-on. "Charlotte" has a significant body count and many colorful characters.

Davis's performance is at times over-the-top but alway magnetic. Her Charlotte is like a tornado, destroying everything in her path. Like Davis herself, Charlotte is a force of nature. But is she a victim struggling mightily against those trying to torment and kill her, or is she a cold-blooded maniac getting her just comeuppance? And who's going to end up dead?
December 7, 2012
Want to see it! Will have to take into account!
December 2, 2012
A campy Bette Davis here, but enjoyable to watch. Agnes Moorehead practically steals the show.
December 2, 2012
A campy Bette Davis here, but enjoyable to watch. Agnes Moorehead practically steals the show.
½ October 15, 2012
Superb movie, a Gothic horror as they call it...Bette Davis is amazing and is very well supported..the story itself is great and the twists and the mystery is very well executed..haven't seen the other one people talk about in conjunction with this movie...hopefully sometime in the future..a must watch !
½ June 28, 2012
Not necessarily a horror film as defined in 2011, nor is it truly a mystery, Hush..Hush, Sweet Charlotte is something entirely different I'm not sure how to name. Southern 1960s thriller? A complete mind frack? A study in long, slow torture of an individual without resorting to Saw-like shenanigans? See, the film doesn't really let on what's going on until late in the picture, as it should. Until that point, we assume Charlotte is the crazy one. Why? Because we're told she is. Everything the camera shows leads to that conclusion in one way or another. Some parts are underutilized, such as a British insurance investigator, which is a pity, considering how pivitol he turns out to be in the end. I can certainly understand wanting to throw the audience off the scent (so to speak), but HHSC comes off a a bit schizophrenic because of it. However, any deficiencies are easily made up by the actors on screen, all of whom try to overact the others. Davis and de Havilland take the cake in this regard, though Agnes Moorehead is almost campy fun as well.
May 14, 2012
A Fun, Frantic, Over-the-top Gothic Melodrama!!
May 13, 2012
while this isn't no baby Jane, just watch the ending if you don't believe me. this is still a great study in hysteria and no one can play hysteria like Bette.
May 3, 2012
Another extremely disturbing film, just as if Alfred Hitchcock had directed it! Had to play cards through most of the movie just to remain unperturbed.
May 3, 2012
Bette Davis is sent crazy thanks to traumatic events in the past and her evil twisted cousin. Top film with a good twist at the end.
April 18, 2012
A triumphant succes in film making. Gripping and amazing. This film keeps your attention from start to terrorizing end.
March 31, 2012
At times, very creepy and always engaging.
March 15, 2012
Excellent thriller with one of my favorites, Ms. Betty Davis
February 12, 2012
Excellent plot twists and character acting. I thought I would never see the day Olivia de Havilland, the sweet Melanie Hamilton, be so two faced evil. She was great as Miriam. Bette Davis is one of the top ten best actresses of all time and she was great as the title character. Joseph Cotten was also great. However, I thought Whatever Happened to Baby Jane was slightly better but not by much. The last 30 minutes or so of this film was amazing and made it a 4 star instead of 3.5.
½ November 15, 2011
Very scary imagery and a classic performance by Betty Davis.
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