Starring Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono. Directed by Robert Aldrich. 1962, 132mins., B&W. Screened in 35mm.
Friday, February 23 at 8PM
Bettie Davis and Joan Crawford, both Academy Award winners and two of Classic Hollywood’s greatest divas, famously had less than no love-loss between them, so the idea to cast them together in the same picture as antagonists, at a time when both their careers were in decline, was somewhere between pure inspiration and sadistic evil. The result is a gothic exercise in psychological terror that offers real suspense with some delicious camp.
As a child, "Baby Jane" Hudson was the toast of vaudeville. As an adult, however, Baby Jane was overshadowed by her more talented sister, Blanche, who became a top movie star. Then one night in the early '30s, came the accident which crippled Blanche for life and was blamed on a drunken, jealous Jane. Flash-forward to 1962: Jane (Bette Davis), decked out in garish chalk-white makeup, still lives with the invalid Blanche (Joan Crawford) in their decaying L.A. mansion. When Jane isn't tormenting the helpless Blanche by serving her dead rats for breakfast, she is plotting and planning her showbiz comeback. Convinced that her days are numbered if she remains in the house with her sister, Blanche desperately tries to get away, but all avenues of escape seem cut off by the deranged Jane. The duo’s real-life animosity is palpable, and creates a macabre electricity. Crawford plays her part basically flat, but against this, Davis turns in an over-the-top, scene chewing performance that is as unforgettable as it is twisted; there’s no way around admitting that the guilty pleasure of this movie is watching Davis torment Crawford with apparent glee. Director Robert Aldrich handles the eccentric material well, mixing equal parts dramatic, creepy and humorous, to create a peculiar but striking tone. If “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” has become something of a cult classic, it also deserves to be known as a skillfully made, well-performed nail-biter.
While it’s easy to think that Davis enjoyed the chance to skewer and upstage her old nemesis, it must have been bittersweet for an actress who had been nominated for an Academy Award ten times, won twice, and was once one of the Silver Screen’s most glamorous leading ladies to have to play such a campy, crazed, an ugly character. Still, the part garnered Davis another Best Actress Oscar nomination and gave her a new lease on her career as a kind of celebrity character actress. The film did win an Academy Award for the now-retired category of Best Black and White Costume Design.
$8 for adults; $6 for seniors & kids (12 & younger). Combo pricing for seeing more than one film in a weekend series.
At the Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre, 54 Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ (201) 798-6055 http://www.loewsjersey.org. Email: [email protected]" target="_blank http://www.facebook.com/landmarkloewsjersey/
The Landmark Loew's Jersey is easily reached by car and mass transit from throughout the New York & New Jersey area. We are located directly across JFK Blvd from the JSQ PATH Station with trains to and from the World Trade Center and 33rd Street in Manhattan, as well as Newark’s Penn Station. The Theatre is close to the NJ Turnpike & Holland Tunnel. Discounted off street parking in Square Ramp Garage.
The Loew's is a place where the great movie going experience is still alive -- a classic movie palace, a 50 foot wide screen, and a real pipe organ for entrance music before most shows! And whenever possible, screenings are still in 35mm.
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