What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

1962

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Critics Consensus

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? combines powerhouse acting, rich atmosphere, and absorbing melodrama in service of a taut thriller with thought-provoking subtext.

92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 50

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 33,855
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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Photos

Movie Info

As a child, Baby Jane Hudson was the toast of vaudeville. As an adult, however, Baby Jane was overshadowed by her more talented sister, Blanche, who became a top movie star. Then, one night in the early '30s, came the accident, which crippled Blanche for life and which was blamed on a drunken, jealous Jane. Flash-forward to 1962: Jane (Bette Davis), decked out in garish chalk-white makeup, still lives with the invalid Blanche (Joan Crawford) in their decaying L.A. mansion. When Jane isn't tormenting the helpless Blanche by serving her dead rats for breakfast, she is plotting and planning her showbiz comeback. Convinced that her days are numbered if she remains in the house with her addlepated sister, Blanche desperately tries to get away, but all avenues of escape are cut off by the deranged Jane. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? sparked a trend toward casting venerable Hollywood female stars in such grotesque Grand Guignol melodramas as Lady in a Cage (1964) and Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte (1965). In addition to revitalizing the careers of Davis and Crawford, whose real-life mutual animosity came through loud and clear, the film made a star of sorts of 24-year-old character actor Victor Buono, cast as a porcine mama's-boy musical composer. Lukas Heller's screenplay was based on the novel by Henry Farrell.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

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Cast

Bette Davis
as Baby Jane Hudson
Joan Crawford
as Blanche Hudson
Victor Buono
as Edwin Flagg
Anna Lee
as Mrs. Bates
Maide Norman
as Elvira Stitt
Marjorie Bennett
as Mrs. Della Flagg
Dave Willock
as Ray Hudson
B.D. Merrill
as Liza Bates
Anne Barton
as Cora Hudson
Julie Allred
as Young Jane
Gina Gillespie
as Blanche as a Child
Bert Freed
as Producer
Wesley Addy
as Director
William Aldrich
as Lunch Counter Assistant
Debbie Burton
as [singing]
Ernest Anderson
as Ice Cream Vendor
Don Ross
as Police Officer #1
Russ Conway
as Police Officer
James Seay
as Police Officer
Maxine Cooper
as Bank Teller
John Shay
as Police Officer #3
Jon Shepodd
as Police Officer #4
Michael Fox
as Beach Motorcycle Cop
Peter Virgo Jr.
as Police Officer #5
Bobs Watson
as Newspaper Clerk
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Critic Reviews for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (9)

Audience Reviews for What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

  • Jan 03, 2018
    Seriously creepy. Bette Davis is extraordinary, and really put herself out there for this film, garish make-up and all. She plays an aging, former childhood star who lives with her sister, played by Joan Crawford, who eclipsed her as they got older to become a star herself back in the 1930's. Three decades later, Davis is still living in the past, craving attention, and dominating Crawford, who is in a wheelchair. Early on, the film includes pictures and brief movie clips from Davis and Crawford when they were younger ('Ex-Lady', and 'Sadie McKee') which is nice. I don't want to give away any of the plot, but will just say there are lots of tingly moments, and director Robert Aldrich did a great job gradually building these to a crescendo. The film is special because of Davis's performance, and because of its extra dimensions. There is of course the horror of being helpless while in an unbalanced person's care, and Crawford turns in a strong performance as well. There is also the horror of becoming irrelevant, of being deluded in holding on to a dream that has long since passed, which has a pathos to it. The 'stories within the story' - Davis and Crawford's real-life antipathy for one another, and their own fading glory - make the movie even more fascinating. Victor Buono is excellent as the pianist who responds to Davis's classified ad, which is her pathetic attempt to revive her act. He's a tragic figure himself, struggling to find work and living with his nagging mother (Marjorie Bennett). There are a few moments which strain credibility, and whether you call them plot holes or not, you may find yourself yelling instructions or warnings out to the screen (perhaps true of many a horror movie). It's on the long side but it flies by, and never feels long. Great movie.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 18, 2017
    Devastating and beautiful, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford offer up timeless performances in an unsettingly good and "way ahead of it's time" picture, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane - based on the Henry Farrell novel before it is terrifying and sweetly dark throughout. The film is only heated by the real life feud between the two actresses and the irony of their ageing attempts at making a comeback, two of the greatest actresses of all time struggling with ageism and the egocentric minds of Hollywood. The story is dark and Hitchcockian, unfolding and winding around like a tendril until it unfurls at the end and spills a cacophony of secrets onto the audience. It's not one of the scariest horror films, but it is one of the best. Bette's cackling and erratically hoarse performance as the villainous Baby Jane is timeless.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 14, 2016
    Sharing a distinction with Sunset Boulevard in showing the aftermath of Hollywood stardom, What Ever Happened To Baby Jane goes a step further in that we follow the fallen careers of former vaudeville child star Baby Jane (Bette Davis) and her invalid sister, the former star Blanche (Joan Crawford). How does your life go on when you had access to everything, but end up with nothing but memories and fallen glory. It is truly enough to drive a person mad. The film opens with Jane being the child star on the vaudeville circuit, with all the spotlight shining on her young face and every whim of the young girl being fulfilled. At such an early age this child is being merchandised by dolls, perpetuating the idea that she is the center of the universe. Hiding in the shadows is Blanche, all but forgotten by their father who focuses on Jane's career. There is a deep resentment in her face as she watches Jane's behavior. We jump to later where Blanche is the star in Hollywood, but insists that Jane also have a film contract even though her childhood talent did not translate into adulthood. Things turn for the worse when Blanche is paralyzed in an incident that Jane is blamed for, effectively ending both of their careers. After the accident Jane has been caring for Blanche in their spacious Hollywood home. Resentment is the main ingredient in Jane's fall into madness and it finally comes to an apex when she learns that Blanche plans to sell the home for something more manageable. Resentment turns to torture, turns to terror as the film plays out. Casting Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as the sisters was a work of genius. While watching the film I realized that the reason that both actresses took their respective roles was due to the intense competition between the two that had occurred for decades. Joan Crawford could make Bette Davis look terrible and Bette Davis could kick Joan Crawford around for two hours. A wonderful time was had by all. That genuine resentment between the two flows throughout the film, delivering an even deeper experience that pulls the viewer into this world that they created. Blanche is still loved and her films still run on television. Jane's vaudeville career is forgotten. Either actress could have played either role, but they were set in the roles that were best for themselves. Director Robert Aldrich shoots a film that, unlike Sunset Boulevard, doesn't cast a bleak, dark world, but a world that has continued beyond the careers of the two leads. The sun still shines, people still have a good time. Aldrich follows Jane's spiral into madness, hinting around the psychological and physical torture that Blanche receives. This feeling that the world has moved on fully develops in the ending where the world around them is being entertained while the sisters are literally in the middle, gone and forgotten. An ending that seems weird, but symbolizes the entire theme of the film. No matter how famous you are, eventually the world will move on no matter what. It's a sad truth that every celebrity needs to face and some may take it better than others. Films about Hollywood are always a touchy subject. The possibility of falling into the pit of over glamorizing is always an issue that can occur and dilute the message that a filmmaker is trying to achieve. With Baby Jane show business really dies in the film when Blanche is paralyzed, something that Blanche accepts, but Jane cannot do. Eventually she descends into replaying her childhood career, a middle aged woman singing songs that a young girl sang all those years ago, becoming a pathetic parody of herself. This film is a more subtle examination of the fallen star than Sunset Boulevard and stands on its own. They may be related, but they're distant cousins. Both with madness, both with terror, but this film is more optimistic. This film is one of the greats and serves as the swan song for the careers of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. What Ever Happened To Baby Jane is a necessity in cinephile viewing.
    Chris G Super Reviewer
  • Sep 23, 2013
    Spurred by jealousy and guilt, a former child star tortures her wheelchair-bound sister as she tries to make a comeback. Torture-porn and the obvious precursor to <i>Misery</i>, this film features fantastic performances by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, each screen legends in her own right. Davis gets the meatier of the two parts, and her performance is courageous and ugly, showing Davis's talent as an actress, not just a movie star. There's something sickening about this film. The plot requires sympathy for the tortured Blanche, but in order for the story to advance, we also need to see the extremity of her situation increase. Putting us in this strange position, the film also tries to get us inside Jane's self-delusions. The sum result is a plotline that's both complex and difficult to stomach. Overall, this is a fine thriller, propelled by two great leading actresses.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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