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Required watching tonight: "Baby Jane." Or "But you are in that chair!"


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Does it get any more macabre and campy than this? Crawford AND Davis! It's as wicked as it gets, and much of it is downright kinky. Truly a classic. Who could ever forget "I've Written a Letter to Daddy"? Supposedly, in the scene where Davis kicks the crap out of Crawford she really did injure her. But with all of Crawford's incessant buzzing, I'd want to kick her too! The dead parakeet, followed by the rat, garnished and served to Blanche on a silver platter; Jane wielding a hammer at Elvira the housekeeper... too much!

 

Victor Buono, another gay actor (Edwin Flagg) later played Davis' father in *Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte*. The girl next door who is watching Blanche Hudson's old movis on TV every day after school, is Davis' daughter B.D.

 

Does anyone have more inside *Baby Jane* info to share? There should be a book about it, if there isn't already. I have a book called "All About 'All About Eve'" (ISBN 0-312-25268-4).

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Thanks for reminding me why I WON"t be seeing tonight what must be the umpteenth time this past year that TCM airs this over-rated schlock horror campfest. This can safely be added to Bette Davis' list of films she probably should have turned down on another thread.

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> {quote:title=FilmAficionado wrote:}{quote}

> Does anyone have more inside *Baby Jane* info to share?

 

I think I saw this when it first hit the theaters back in ?62, but thankfully I?ve forgotten almost everything about it.

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*All the verbose sarcasm was a waste of time. "I don't like that movie" would have been sufficiant.*

 

I'm not the only one who can be accused of verbosity. "I plan on watching this movie" would have been sufficient . . . never mind the thread title "*Required* watching . . . "

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> FilmAficionado wrote:

> Does anyone have more inside *Baby Jane* info to share? There should be a book about it, if there isn't already.

 

There has never been a precise book written about the making of ?Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.? There were technical reasons that centered around the director of the film, Robert Aldrich, who didn?t like or accept what he called all the silly exaggerated hype, based around lots of hearsay and from people who weren?t there or on the movie set. Bob Aldrich felt a bit betrayed by some of the people he knew and spoke to about issues that weren?t exactly so extreme about what went on between Bette and Joan. This is probably why, throughout his life, he refused to reflect upon what gossip there was behind his celebrated version of this tale of terror. What was very clear or known about the ?Baby Jane? situation, focused upon Aldrich having to play against both sides of the fences or in this case have to one minute please Bette and then turn around and keep Joan happy, while all along he dangled both women into thinking they had the upper hand on the situation.

 

There was some tension brought onto the movie set between both actresses. This was the usual professional jealously that had probably lingered on from the time Joan left MGM and signed on at Warner Brothers and became something of a rival to Bette?s position at Warner?s. By the time both women were working on ?Baby Jane,? they were considered pretty much washed up as major stars or having enough real solid box-office clout. All they had was their enormous reputations at stake and Bob Aldrich realized there was a sort of desperation for both actresses to have to prove something, not so much to the motion picture business, but to say they had reached the pinnacle of movie star legend and now it was time to have a big fling on this issue. Certainly, this makes all the gossip and crazy stories surrounding ?Baby Jane? so easily exploited and taken beyond the simple rationalization that Bette and Joan needed and wanted to keep themselves viable to what they came to represent to the movie business at hand.

 

Of course, we will now always hear many different and odd-ball stories about what went on behind the scenes. In a strong way of thinking, this has actually helped the film gain much attention over the years. An obscure legend has now shrouded ?Baby Jane? to the point that some fans have come to believe there is a very thin line between the fantasy of the movie and the reality of both women and how they may have felt about each other! This has been over the years, the driving force that came to dominate the whole aura of the film. I?ve no doubt, that Bette and Joan had their moments of emotional stress on the set of the film, but in fairness to Bob Aldrich and how he diligently struggled to get the film made, with little financial support, with what was termed as two, old, over-the-hill ?has-beens,? is more a story worth telling, than all the nonsense and disorder that erupted between Bette and Joan.

 

Lots of petty jealously and bedlam between movie stars happen on a motion picture set, it?s just how its handled and the end results that matter. This is why Bob Aldrich should be enormously commended for his efforts of keeping the film on track to the point that ?Whatever Happened To Baby Jane,? is a testament to a director who believed he could succeed with two extremely difficult actresses and rejuvenate not only their careers, but prove he had the right stuff to make it all a big hit. Bette and Joan might have not liked each other and perhaps had many reasons to be suspicious, envious and a nuisance towards one another, but they both got the job done and this pretty much proves they were pros in the end.

 

Now, I will tell one very interesting (if not funny) story about Bette and Joan on the set of the movie. It was when they shot the scene where Bette had to lift Joan?s body and carry her off the floor. Bette pleaded to Bob Aldrich that she had a bad back and needed Joan to loosen up and not be so stiff, so that it would be easy for her to pick Joan up. Bob, then politely explained to Joan what Bette had requested. Well, here we had Bob as the constant go-between or referee as the movie commenced. Joan simply smiled and said, ?Ok Bob, I?ll do my best.? When the scene was shot, Joan wasn?t exactly so loose; she remained strait-laced and ridged as Bette ended up straining herself. The episode resulted in Bette having to take time off and production had to be halted! This was thought by some to be Joan?s revenge to Bette, when they had the famous beating scene. In all, this tale makes for some great press or the usual controversial gossip, but whether or not it was the mode or daily routine during the movie?s making is and will remain questionable. At least, this was the feeling that Bob Aldrich had and while he did give some insight to some of the antics that went on, he came to regret these tales. Today, it?s become the whole focal point for many fans to watch the film and not so much the marvelous performances by the principal players.

 

This is a film that has become a symbol of an over-the-top sort of production that has lost some of its serious intent or the exertion to create something of value. It?s strange to think that ?Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? is a tour de force of legendary movie stars going into an area no one who had originally taken their careers so seriously would have expected! The accomplishment both ladies made was to get a necessary attention, as to a remembrance of who they had once been and yet they both were scrapping what at first appeared to be the bottom of the motion picture barrel. In a technical sense, regardless of the gossip, both ladies succeeded in accomplishing a feat that few can marshal. But then, ?Baby Jane? just might be that reflection or underlying core to the guts and passion both ladies had in life and towards their motion picture careers. So, I?ll be watching tonight, as I?ve watched this film countless times, because it has turned out to be one of those ?once in a lifetime? pairing of two talented and legendary performers of the movies. In the end, that is what should really matter and they both pulled it off in a big and smashing way!

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What are you looking forward to watching? I want to know what interests everyone. That, I thought was the purpose of this forum: to discuss, compare, contrast, enlighten. No one has to agree. I read posts every day praising movies I would never watch. But to each his own. I respect everyone's choices. It took 25 minutes for you to belittle my choice. Perhaps you were feeling clever, but I thought your post was mean-spirited and I was offended. Does disagreeing with me in that way make you feel superior?

 

This is the last I have to say on this subject. I just wanted to make myself clear. Gnug ist gnug!

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Thanks, Professor. I have heard that "Bette's bad back" story before. As you well know it is difficult to tell the difference between truth and "Hollywood Legend." At least Bette made some very good films at the end of her career. Poor Joan, turning out stuff like *Trog* and *Berserk!+*

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I was in high school when it came out, and saw it then. I found it to be the most horrifying film I'd ever seen. It was so intense I never watched it again, until TCM had it on a few weeks ago. I liked it on my second viewing. It was still frightening, but also poignant. A well done film, with two great actresses, and a fine supporting cast.

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I'm watching it for the first time in more years than I can remember. The TCM Staffer who introduced it seemed to be having a great time talking to Robert O.

 

I'm enjoying the *Employee Picks* !

 

Thanks, TCM!

 

Edited by: lzcutter

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> {quote:title=ValentineXavier wrote:}{quote}

> A well done film,

 

Too depressing. Too frequently shown. Not a "classic" of any kind except as an example of a film that makes the audience want to gag and throw up.

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The first version of this that I saw was the Lynn and Vanessa Redgrave TV remake from the early nineties. I liked it, and I think it has one thing going for it that is a definite improvement over the Aldrich version: the mansion set is much grander and more interesting- with a big sweeping "movie star" staircase.

 

I've always felt that the set decor for the 1962 version is too claustrophobic and not Baroque enough (which was maybe the idea.)

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> {quote:title=JonnyGeetar wrote:}{quote}

> I've always felt that the set decor for the 1962 version is too claustrophobic and not Baroque enough (which was maybe the idea.)

 

Surely that was the idea. The film is deliberately about as claustrophobic as you can get. That's a large part of the film.

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> {quote:title=ValentineXavier wrote:}{quote}

> The film is deliberately about as claustrophobic as you can get.

 

For that I have to pay $1.25?? No, I'll just go lock myself in a phone booth next time.

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=ValentineXavier wrote:}{quote}

> > The film is deliberately about as claustrophobic as you can get.

>

> For that I have to pay $1.25?? .

Oh, dear me, Fred...you are not breaking down your cable bill per movie now, are you?

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This movie would make a good legal case on what the borderline is between being sane or insane.

 

I think Baby Jane was mostly sane, and also acting out of hatred and jealousy. I am sure some could make the case for insanity and get her off to the padded cells.

 

BTW the admission at the end that Baby Jane was not the one that crashed the car but was wrongly accused might have some seeing her as the victim, lol. There are a lot of people like this today, that mistreat others unfortunately.

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I think a lot of the gossipy rivalry tales were contained in the book The Divine Feud which chronicled the lifelong rivalry between the two stars. Weather true or not, it makes for some entertaining reading.....

 

Edited by: Hibi on Mar 8, 2011 9:32 AM

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> {quote:title=Hibi wrote:}{quote}

> I think a lot of the gossipy rivalry tales were contained in the book The Divine Fued which chronicled the lifelong rivalry between the two stars.

 

I just can't believe this "feud" between them. Bette Davis was a really good respected actress and Joan always seemed like a sort of want-to-be hanger on. (no hanger pun intended) Just not the electric quality Davis had. I could see jealousy between them; their parts, their careers, but a vicious rivalry just rings of elementary school.

 

I LOVED the employee picks, especially when Robt Osborne inquired as to their jobs or love of cinema. So interesting & fun!

 

Last Halloween I *was* Baby Jane Hudson, the most fun costume I've done in a long time-that over the top make up! I was amazed at how few recognised me and just thought I was a prom ghoul with the fur piece & sparkley pin beret. Who else wears blonde curls like that?

 

Mr Tiki hadn't seen the film in 15 years so we were glad it was on (again) in a watchable time slot. "Too many airings" for one might be a "perfect airing" for another. I actually like this film a lot and think Davis did a great job. I especially enjoy her scary deadpan face when the smiley neighbor makes inquiries.

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I'm thinking surely there was a rivalry, there just had to be.

 

I remember back when Joan Rivers had her old daytime talk show (which was such fun): she had former celebrity personal assistants on. Bette Davis's (last?) live-in companion was one of the guests (she seemed like a smart, funny, very genuine young woman.) She said only nice things about Bette but admitted that Davis did indeed hate Crawford and would go on and on about how she despised her.

 

In the battle royale between the two, Joan is always given the short change. People always say "Bette was the ACTRESS, Joan was the STAR." I think this is part due to the fact that Bette was only too happy to eschew vanity and play The Crypt Keeper early on in her career while JOAN CRAWFORD insisted on clinging imperiously to her image as JOAN CRAWFORD and in many cases her work does suffer for it (think her doing Torch Song in 1953 instead of doing From Here to Eternity )

 

But I have to put forth the potentially controversial statement that Bette was capable of giving the occasional "off" performance (check out Mr. Skeffington if you disagree.) I also think that sometimes her noble women are insufferably noble (ie The Corn is Green or Watch on the Rhine ) and in her later career she shamelessly tried to milk sympathy from the audience ( The Catered Affair or A Pocketful of Miracles ) The worst case of the latter is no doubt the _awful_ follow-up to Baby Jane : 1964's Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte. wherein Bette gnaws the scenery like a spring beaver and Joe Cotton and a dreafully miscast Olivia deHavilland give the only bad performances I have ever seen either give. Had Crawford not bowed out of Charlotte for whatever reasons, her fault or Bette's, it would have been a lot better. In the end, it's a pathetic, overlong, tedious rehash of Baby Jane

 

And to be fair, I think Crawford was a good actress- her material at MGM was lousy in the thirties, but she's great in Rain , The Women , Grand Hotel , Sadie McKee , Possessed and, in what makes an interesting comparison between her work and Bette's 1949's Flamingo Road In that film she is really, really miscast- just as Bette was in the same year's Beyond the Forest . But Crawford sticks it out and gives an interestingly confident and natural performance in a film she didn't want to do and knew she was wrong for, much the opposite of what Bette did in the same circumstances.

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