Have you ever been jealous of someone? We all have at one point or another. Completely envious and filled with hate towards a person experiencing success. In the case of Baby Jane her time in the spotlight is long gone, her fame eclipsed by her sister Blanche, who was forced to retire after an accident Jane was blamed for. This is the genesis of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? from 1962, a famous horror classic.
Jane begins a descent into madness, subjecting her sister to torments and driving her into a state of fear. What begins as simple jealousy turns into something darker and nasty. Monsters are far scarier when they are real people, capable of horrific acts of violence. Blanche witnesses depravity that is fairly stark for an older Hollywood film. Especially since there is no escape for Blanche due to her being in a wheelchair. Things only get even worse from their as Jane continues to lose touch with reality.
Shot in glorious black and white thus film maintains its heavy claustrophobic atmosphere throughout, never stopping to give the audience a chance to breathe. The last act is also tragic and haunting, giving the movie a lasting resonance. I will never hear the line “Am I still pretty?” the same way again. Its funny that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford gave us one of their best films despite not liking each other. Maybe that dislike was properly channeled into a masterful film. Art sometimes reflect reality.
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