What Ever Happened to Baby Jane

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Academy Awards
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
Directors Guild of America
Palme d’Or
Cannes Film Festival
Aldrich's direction and dynamite performances from the two old troupers make this film an experience.


What Ever Happened to Baby Jane

Part of our Anniversary Classics series. For details, visit: laemmle.com/ac.
62nd Anniversary Screening

The cult classic
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, two screen legends from the Golden Age of Hollywood, who were facing career fadeouts by 1962, the plight of aging actresses both then and now. Studio disinterest and the lack of appropriate roles forced them to seek unorthodox parts, and the screen adaptation of a Henry Farrell novel about the intense psychological rivalry between two reclusive sisters, former actresses holed up in Hollywood obscurity, seemed tailor-made. Producer-director Robert Aldrich hired Lukas Heller to write the screenplay, and the expert mix of black comedy and suspense, along with powerful acting by the cast, made the film a worldwide success. The movie scored a trifecta: a box-office bonanza, pop culture phenomenon, and show business sensation. It also revived the careers of both Davis and Crawford, restoring their places in the Hollywood pantheon, and spawned a genre of Grande Dame Guignol that gave veteran actresses roles for the next decade.

Part of the appeal of the film was the alleged off-screen rivalry between Davis and Crawford, and that rumored feud fostered high anticipation for both the press and fans of the day. “Feud,” a 2017 miniseries about the rivalry between Davis and Crawford while shooting the movie, sparked the most recent interest in the film. When the film was nominated for five Academy Awards, with Bette Davis among the Best Actress nominees, the feud was putatively exacerbated by the omission of Crawford. It won the Oscar for black-and-white costume design, and among its other nominations were Victor Buono (Best Supporting Actor) in his screen debut, and master cinematographer Ernest Haller (Oscar winner for
Gone With the Wind), who had worked with both stars in their 1940s heyday. Among critical reception at the time, the Chicago Daily News saw “…the outlines of a modern Greek tragedy. Yet it is great fun too, because this is pure cinema drama set in a real house of horrors.”
Not Rated
Drama, Horror, Thriller/Suspense, Anniversary Classics, Women and Film, Repertory
Robert Aldrich
Henry Farrell, Lukas Heller
Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono
Nominee, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Academy Awards
Nominee, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film, Directors Guild of America
Nominee, Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival
James Powers, Hollywood Reporter

Whatever else it may turn out to be, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is certainly one of the most fascinating and unusual cinema items of the year, and one that will capture a huge amount of publicity and comment. Robert Aldrich's production for Warner Bros. is a lurid melodrama of hate, revenge ...

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