Friday, May 25, 2007

DVD Pick:-->What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)

"Can I have your autograph?
he said to the fat blond actress
You know, I know everything you've done
Anyway, I hate divorces
To the left is a marble shower
It was fun even for an hour, but
You're over the hill right now, and you're looking for love."
Velvet Underground

Dir. Robert Aldrich's deliciously dark "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" (1962) is a sleazy exercise in sibling jealousy, (and we're not talking Jan and Marcia).

Baby Jane (Bette Davis) and Blanche (Joan Crawford) are show business sisters. (The former being a vaudeville child star, and the latter being a box office success in adulthood.) There have rarely been two bigger female divas in the same movie, as you'll find here...but let there be no mistake...this is Bette's tour de force and she is unequivocally taking no prisoners. In fact, when she is on the screen, we hardly pay attention to anyone else. Bette Davis creates an unforgettable, unlikable, and surprisingly somewhat sympathetic character in this film.

Having said that, Joan Crawford holds her own pretty well. Being confined to a wheelchair in this film, Crawford must do her acting from the shoulders up and she pulls off some pretty wicked expressions of her own.

In a nutshell, broke and unemployed Baby Jane must take care of her wheelchair bound sister, Blanche, in exchange for her own room and board. Out of necessity...and out of guilt. Baby Jane's actions become more and more erratic and violent, causing Blanche concern for her own welfare.

Victor Buono (who many of you may remember as the villain King Tut from the '60s "Batman" series) was nominated for best supporting actor as the fumbly-bumbly mama's boy, Edwin Flagg. The bantering between Buono and Davis (each with their own agendas) is priceless. And appears as if a little ad-lib was thrown into the mix.

It is well known that while making this film, Davis and Crawford were bitching and feuding pretty hard with each other. Each despising the other with equal venom. Knowing this going in makes for some tasty green eyed monster soup.
Davis & Crawford
There is a simple unpretentious line that Davis delivers to her co-star, Crawford near the end of the film. "All this time we could have been friends."

And though she might not have meant those words in real life...she speaks them in this film with such sadness and sweetness and (now here's the hard part) acceptance. A lesser actor would not have been able to pull it off. Good stuff! And I'll not soon forget it.

Davis received her final Academy Award nomination for this role.

Watch the pleasure 'Baby Jane" derives from the creative entrees she serves up for her sister Blanche.

Also, there is a terrific scene shot from the ceiling might otherwise overlook...when the camera captures sister Blanche having a private level 10 panic attack in her wheelchair. This rings true and props to Crawford for selling it.


Velvet Underground:-->"New Age" off Loaded (1970)
(Own This CD)

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