In a tale that almost redefines sibling rivalry, faded actresses Blanche and 'Baby' Jane Hudson live together. Jane was by far the most famous when she performed with their father in vaudeville but as they got older, it was Blanche who became the finer actress, which Jane still resents. Blanche is now confined to a wheelchair and Jane is firmly in control. As time goes by, Jane exercises greater and greater control over her sister, intercepting her letters and ensuring that few if anyone from the outside has any contact with her. As Jane slowly loses her mind, she torments her sister going to ever greater extremes. Written by
Bette Davis was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in this movie. Had Davis won, it would have set a record number of wins for one actress. According to the book "Bette & Joan - The Divine Feud" by Shaun Considine, Davis and Joan Crawford had a lifelong mutual hatred, and a jealous Crawford actively campaigned against Davis winning Best Actress, even telling Anne Bancroft that if Bancroft won and was unable to accept the Award, she would be happy to accept it on her behalf. According to the book - and this may or may not be 100% true, but it makes a good anecdote - on Oscar night, Davis was standing in the wings of the theatre waiting to hear the name of the winner. When it was announced that Bancroft had indeed won for The Miracle Worker (1962), Davis felt an icy hand on her shoulder as Crawford said, "Excuse me, I have an Oscar to accept". See more »
The police report describes Jane's car as a "1940 or 1941 black convertible". It is in fact a 1948 Lincoln Continental convertible. See more »
I'll bring in some tea. You like tea?
Oh, yes. I'm quite fond of tea. You must have guessed that I'm English.
Oh, really? How nice for you.
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The Warner Bros. logo does not appear at the beginning of this film. See more »
Interesting, to see comments dismissing WEHTBJ? as a "gay" film, or "cult" film, etc.
As a writer/producer who lived and worked in Hollywood for 30 years, I submit that those comments represent a "denial syndrome" of people who are ignorant of the facts of Hollywood.
What is so "horrifying" about WEHTBJ? is that the film is an utterly realistic psychodrama about two specific sisters of that era.
It's easy to say that Bette Davis' performance/makeup was "over the top," except that they weren't. In fact, I thought her look was taken from a sad "street person" in Hollywood who, in her seventies, walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard in a pink ball-gown and dead blonde wig and thick makeup, speaking into a transistor radio she held to her ear -- in the 60s, long before cell phones -- "talking" to the FBI about people chasing her.
Perhaps those who've spent their lives elsewhere, other than in Hollywood, feel that the characters in WEHTBJ? are "over the top." But they're not.
That's what makes them so heartbreaking. And the incredibly brave performances by Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Victor Bono and the rest -- not to mention the script and Robert Aldrich's direction -- make this simply the most definitive "Hollywood" psycho-thriller since "Sunset Boulevard."
There's "A Star Is Born," in any of its incarnations. Which is also "true" in its (their) way.
And there is "Sunset Boulevard" and "Baby Jane," which are even more true, and more brilliantly made.
These are not "horror films." They are riveting psychological studies, cast with astonishing actors, and magnificently directed and photographed.
They are the equivalent of Hitchcock's "Psycho," IMHO, which was preceeded by "Sunset Boulevard" and followed by "Baby Jane."
Each different, each brilliant, each marked by some of the most indelible performances ever captured on film.
It's typical of adolescents to make a "joke" about things that make them uncomfortable.
But when experience and age acquaint one with people like Baby Jane and Norma Desmond and, yes, Norman Bates, what's the point of joking?
These three films will tell those characters' stories forever, and better than 99% of films ever made.
That's why they're classics.
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