A former child star torments her paraplegic sister in their decaying Hollywood mansion.
For this particular review, I have chosen to render my critique - in description of this timeless masterpiece - with a word from each letter of its title: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? An opus of epic proportions, the tour de force performances in this cinematic icon relay what is: Warped. Hellish. Atrocious. Tumultuous. Evil. Vile. Envious. Ruthless. Hostile. Abhorrent. Perverse. Paranoid. Enraged. Nightmarish. Erroneous. Depraved. Terrifying. Ominous. Brutal. Apprehensive. Backstabbing. Yucky. Jealousy. Abominable. Nefarious. Egotistical. ...And there you have it, folks. A single word from every letter of the title to describe the ice-cold spirit of the one and ONLY What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? This Robert Aldrich-directed, old era silver screen jewel is a phenomenal feature of cinematic art, and a legendary masterwork of prestige. Superb performances by the real-life archenemies, Davis and Crawford. Absolutely superb! Way beyond worthy of its 5 of 5 stars rating.
Now then, settle down - turn off the phone, grab some Malbec and be prepared for one of the finest examples of character-driven cinema you are ever likely to encounter. Bette Davis is the former, rather petulant, child star "Baby Jane" who rather grudgingly looks after her sister - the more critically acclaimed actress "Blanche" (Joan Crawford) as their dotage approaches in their Hollywood home. "Blanche" is largely confined to a wheelchair, so is entirely dependent on her increasingly alcoholic, flaky and downright nasty sibling. Thing is, though, it's Blanche who has the money - and when she starts to discuss selling their house this riles her sister who soon has some pretty menacing thoughts about thwarting this "betrayal". Luckily for "Blanche" - their maid "Elvira" (Maidie Norman) starts to become aware of this rather menacing change in attitude, and well... Crawford and Davis are very much at the top of their games here, and somehow you can't help but wonder if they were really acting their socks off, or whether there was a serious bit of professional "loathing" going on on the set of this deftly directed Robert Aldrich classic. There is a positive sense of venom here from Davis, and her counterpart portrays the traumatised victim with great aplomb. Neither woman is afraid to ditch their more traditional glamour. Davis looks truly demented in her part as the woman with one hand on the bottle and the other on the door handle of the sanatorium - and she excels in the part. It's almost 2¼ hours long and it positively flies by. The pace is perfect, the DeVol score ebbs and flows with the frequently pithy and powerful dialogue and the photography - often tight and intimate makes this a superb example of the ultimate cinema sibling rivalry. Big screen if you can - but either way, this is just about as good as it gets.