Grand Bette, Outside Guignol

DATELINE: All-Star Schlock!

 Miss Bette Davis.

Harold Robbins is a name you don’t hear much anymore. He wrote some of the trashiest, sleaziest, soap-opera sex-scandal novels of the 1960s. And, one of his prize gems was Where Love Has Gone…There is no question mark after it.

Based on this flamboyant mess, love went to the dogs. You may bark out loud, or you may just hoot. The cast will gag you with its sheer perfection. The under-stars are notables and familiar faces that deliver exactly what they knew was needed.

Where do you begin…Whit Bissell as a college professor, DeForrest Kelley as a drama critic, Jane Greer as a social worker, George Macready as a snooty lawyer, Willis Bouchey as a judge: the faces are worth it. And they are mugs of the highest order.

The main cast features Susan Hayward as a version of Lana Turner, and Joey Heatherton as her daughter. The real Lana and daughter were involved in the murder of a mobster boyfriend: Harold Robbins takes the topic and runs with it. He puts cement shoes on Hayward, even as she careens through the hills of San Fran like Steve McQueen.

Bette Davis is grand. She had played a series of hags in the 1960s, and she was offered the role of a rich, aristocratic monster, in beautiful clothes and looking magnificent. She jumped at it, and she delivered lines like no one in the world! There is only one Miss Davis.

The movie is melodramatic stinker set in San Francisco with its Golden Gate everywhere. Mike Connors is a Medal of Honor winning war hero and architect, and Susan Hayward is a rich sculptor—and to see her in goggles trying to chisel is worth the entire movie price.

It’s so tawdry and over-sensational that you will not believe the dialogue or the portrait slashing performance of its star. If you are housebound with viral threats, you need escapism of this level. They don’t make’em like this anymore. What a pity!

 

 

 

 

Mike Wallace Reporting

DATELINE: Titan of TV

Mike Takes on Bette!

Mike Wallace is no longer here with us, but thankfully we have an astounding biographical documentary called Mike Wallace is Here.

He took on all kinds of interviews: politics, show business, crime, and assorted miscreants. He didn’t always as the hard-as-nails interviewer: he started out as a pitchman and game show host. He thought he had a face for radio.

There is some truth that he was more showman than journalist, but he ultimately played a journalist until he lived the part. Many hard-nosed CBS types did not respect him at first, and he suffered an interloper’s reception from them.

Yet, his early black and white smokey interviews on late night raised the bar for insider insights. Whether it was Eleanor Roosevelt, Drew Pearson, or some Mafia thug, he asked the questions you never expected. Perhaps it was the start of rude journalism, but he took umbrage of the Bill O’Reilly school of shout and shake.

It was with 60 Minutes that Wallace will likely be remembered mostly. But interviewers like Barbara Walters and Morley Safer owed their styles to him. When they turn the tables on the old Wallace, he is undaunted. He was shocked when CBS abandoned its muckraker style because of checkbook journalism. Mike was never that.

Questions he might ask Larry King or Barbra Streisand are not in his personal repertoire of response. He suffered personally because he put career ahead of family. He knew it and operated in full cognizance of his luck.

When he became depressed in old age, people were shocked. Didn’t he have ice water in his veins? Johnny Carson said he had that taken out years earlier so he could function in public. Wallace treated Gen. Westmoreland and Putin alike, as he was a democrat of truth.

If you were not interviewed by Mike Wallace, you may have lost something in history. He had a knack of putting celebrities and historical personages like Nixon in their perspective of humanity.

This is Mike Wallace is a stunning, delightful documentary, and we have to miss him. He nailed Trump before he was 40 and showed us what was in store.

 

John Wayne Revisited, 50 Years Off the Saddle!

DATELINE:  Too Late for Words!

Duke, Duck!Duck, Dodge, and Hide, Duke!

Fifty years after John Wayne gave an interview to Playboy, it has been re-discovered and has become an interesting, revisionist historical document that berates black people, Native Americans, and gays.

Wayne was home on the range but would be shocked by today’s brave new world. He would have punched Trump in the nose for suggesting America is no longer great.

Actors have never been known for their giant brains. You have only to look at stories about Jussie Smollett to learn that hard lesson.

So, it is not surprising that an interview given by Duke Wayne in 1971 is rife with frightful prejudice against black people and Native Americans. You should add women to the list.

Wayne played an array of Union soldiers and military heroes often in defense of America, popular ideas in his movies. He was in real life only one step to the left of J. Edgar Hoover and not much removed from a political Know-Nothing.

If you put his statue in front of a Confederate stronghold, the rebels would have ripped it down.

John Wayne refused to work with “liberal” Dirty Harry Clint Eastwood on a movie.

Well, the shocks mount up like Wayne on a charging steed with the reins in his teeth and six-shooters firing at will.

Young anti-Vietnam war Americans of the “hippie era” hated John Wayne for his backward view of politics. He was right up there with Bob Hope as a supporter of war in its many forms.

Now that generation of youth, regarded as wayward and drug-addled, is older than Wayne when he gave his notorious interview of 1971.

Back in the 1970s, liberals laughed at Wayne and threw snowballs at him when he was in a Cambridge parade and received the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year at Harvard.

He also went on TV to guest star on Maude, Bea Arthur’s liberal bastion series. She promised a shootout with Wayne at High Noon.

Of course, Maude was a half-baked hypocrite and she melted when John Wayne told her he never discussed politics with a woman. They ended up in a waltz.

The problem that faces the old Bernie Saunders liberal types who are pushing 80 (and soon to be pushing up daisies) has more to do with an old Bette Davis quote.

She said of her hated rival Joan Crawford: “They don’t change just because they’re dead.”

People should remember that Davis was only partly correct. She should have said: “You can’t change your mind once you’re dead.”

Reel History: When Bette Met Mae

DATELINE:  What Becomes a Legend Most

 Bette & Mae The Reel McCoys!

Yes, a young fan at an intimate dinner party made an audio tape of a conversation with Bette Davis and Mae West when they met in November of 1973. And, now that young man has produced and directed a marvelous documentary that re-enacts that meeting with lip-synch lookalikes.

What a treat for those who love the old Hollywood legends—and it’s the actual voices of the stars, played to the hilt of re-enacting.

Their pre-dinner conversation is dotted and interrupted with annotations about their lives and celebrity that comprise a little gem that lasts over an hour.

You might expect fireworks, but Mae only plays her famous Diamond Lil for money—not for social laughs. And, Bette does her Margo Channing with an endless punch of hard drinks galore.

In some ways Davis dominates—and takes on the other two guests who came with Mae West.  But, the two legends have a love-fest as they run down the old Hollywood studio system, imitators, and worthless men in their lives.

All this is enhanced with two marvelous doppleganger actresses in the roles of Mae and Bette—looking so realistic that you feel like you really are there.

Wes Wheadon was a young friend of Bette and decided to put the chat on an old cassette tape from that long-ago night–and direct it as he recalls. Now he shares that wonderful evening with a new generation. With Victoria Mills as Mae and Karen Teliha as Bette, Sally Kellerman narrates this delicious night of stars.

 

 

 

 

Murphy Trumps Olivia DeHavilland

DATELINE: Lady in a Caged Lawsuit

 Miss De havilland to you

DeHavilland as vindictive Heiress (1949)

Perhaps the 101-year-old legendary star actress has outlived her own values.

According to a California court, Miss Olivia De Havilland has no right to stop an unflattering portrayal of herself in Ryan Murphy’s ripe black comedy called Feud. It’s the nasty tale of how Bette Davis and Joan Crawford spoiling for a fight over their careers and in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

Miss DeHavilland’s character called her own sister, actress Joan Fontaine, a “bitch” on screen, to which De Havilland objected. She called her many things, but never bitch.

She would have preferred “dragon lady,” but the producers of Feud and the courts felt that it was too archaic and not colorful enough to suit the story. Olivia De Havilland was kicked harder than Joan Crawford in Baby Jane, all in the name of artistic expression.

If the law is to be understood nowadays, you don’t have a right to stop the First Amendment, however disabused you may suffer at the hands of hack writers.

In all likelihood, Ryan Murphy, smug as ever, never realized Olivia DeHavilland, a two-time Oscar winner for 1940 and 1949, was still alive. He continued to call her “Olivia” this year, as if they were on a first-name basis, throughout the legal case.

So, Miss De Havilland stayed in seclusion in Paris while Hollywood glamour types and writers now have open season on living beings. A screenwriter can put whatever words he wants into your mouth, all in the name of artistic freedom, and therein rests the script.

Hollywood’s new bread-and-butter is the documentary bio-film with re-enactors and colorful revisions to history. Miss De Havilland did not stand a chance, and we wouldn’t blame her for calling Ryan Murphy “a son of a bitch.”

DeHavilland Renews Legal Fight

DATELINE:  ‘Feud’ Subject & Creator Continues in Court

Real Feud Feud

Just when producer/director/writer Ryan Murphy thought he had beaten the clock on the lawsuit filed by Olivia DeHavilland, the 101 year-old movie star legend, she has risen up again.

It’s back on, set for a March trial.

She, as you may recall, took umbrage with her portrayal and use of name in the infamously entertaining series Feud, about the relationship of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

Miss DeHavilland insists that no one asked her permission to use her image and give words to her actress voice.

That’s probably because Ryan Murphy figured she was already deader than a doornail, like the rest of the characters in his hilarious series about Hollywood’s most rotten segment of the Golden Age.

Instead, Olivia rose up like Marley’s Ghost, warning Ryan Murphy. Now she is demanding the trial be held at a university where students may attend to see the shenanigans play out. Talk about a sense of drama.

Whether Miss DeHavilland will make the flight from her home in Paris is unknown, as she is elderly and frail. However, her spirit is not about to be buried by the likes of Hollywood upstarts like Ryan Murphy.

Murphy’s lawyers insist that if DeHavilland has her way, it will have a chilling effect on making docudramas where old historical figures come in and out of scenes uttering misquotes.

His money is on Miss Olivia DeHavilland croaking before the case, and his inevitable loss to a living legend, occurs. Our money is on Gone with the Wind‘s Melanie Wilkes, the survivor of The Snake Pit, the vindictive Heiress, and the Lady in a Cage.

Feud: Ryan Murphy & Olivia DeHavilland

DATELINE: Creepy Producer

 

coda

The spry legend, Miss Olivia DeHavilland whose Oscars outnumber anything Ryan Murphy will ever compile, has fired another volley at miniseries Feud: Joan & Bette, created by Mr. Murphy.

Right before the series is about to reap Emmy glory for its hilarious and entertaining depiction of two movie stars in a death throe struggle like scorpions, more turns of the screw emerge.

Miss DeHavilland’s character, ‘herself’ it appears, is a mere supporting figure. Yet, she does not like how she is portrayed. In a deposition through her lawyers, she tells the world she never called her sister, actress Joan Fontaine, ‘a bitch’ to any director or producer.

That may mean she used to term privately among friends, or even to hapless Joan Fontaine’s face, but her point is the script and series misrepresented her behavior. She said: “The false statements and unauthorized use of my name, identity and image by the creators of Feud have caused me discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment, and distress.”

Yes, being violated is like that, no matter what your age.

Murphy’s glad-hand attitude demeans Miss DeHavilland by calling her “Olivia,” despite her age, her position, and the fact that he never has met her, let alone sought her permission to use her as a figure in a docudrama.

In blatant admission, Murphy’s mouthpieces claim: “The fact that the words attributed to her and the purported endorsement are false does not transform the character into anything other than an exact depiction of de Havilland.”  Hunh?

That’s quite an admission: they know they have misused her by having her say words she never uttered, but it’s all for the profit of Ryan Murphy—and to give us viewers a few guffaws.

We wish to point out that Miss DeHavilland is a real human being, not an emblematic symbol like the White Whale, appearing in a work of fiction.

Murphy is betting that the 101-year old Oscar winner may pop off at any time—thus giving him the last word, which he will have anyhow as time will likely bestow on him the honor to be standing at the end of all this mess.

In all likelihood, the arrogant TV producer probably thought DeHavilland was already dead—and it didn’t matter how he used her identity.

What the old legend is showing here is that identity theft can occur in many ways:  when you profit from stealing someone’s personality, you’re a thief, Mr. Murphy. But, as Hollywood producers go, that is no crime at all.

 

Round Seven: Feud, Crawford Down for Count

DATELINE:  Series on Bette & Joan Continues…

Real Feud

A re-teaming of Crawford and Davis in a second movie was never going to work, despite filming on location in Louisiana and hypocritical attempts at camaraderie by the stars.

Joan Crawford soon went on strike by feigning illness.

Feud, the series with Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, spends the penultimate episode on the crisis during Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. The two stars seemed to realize their careers were never enough to compensate for their shortcomings in personal life. Yet, they continued to self-destruct personally.

Interestingly, the miniseries puts more focus on the failed mother-daughter relationship between Bette and BD. We never see Christina Crawford interact with her mother, despite the famous Mommie Dearest legend.

The episodes rely heavily on the bad karma and worse characters that emerged from the slice and dice books done by the two daughters of the stars in subsequent years. Bette and Joan were done irreparable harm by the tell-all, revenge books by their progeny.

We told Miss Davis in 1986 that the BD Hyman book would never have a lasting impact to assuage the aging and distraught star. We don’t think she believed us, but responded politely to the reassurance. How wrong we were 31 years ago.

As for the episode in the sweep of Hollywood vindictiveness, we never hear why Bette nixed Vivien Leigh for the replacement for Joan—likely because Leigh won the coveted Scarlett O’Hara role that Bette wanted. It is also stated that Loretta Young and Barbara Stanwyk turned down the key part in Charlotte because they were friends of Joan.

The emergence of Olivia De Havilland as the new co-star likely was the result of her ties to Bette, though even Livy suggested they call her sister Joan Fontaine to take over from the other Joan.

Juicy gossip has become the printed legend of whatever happened to the two star subjects of Feud. The knock-out punch should arrive in the final episode.

 

 

Hush…Hush (Say It with Ellipsis, Not Comma), Charlotte

DATELINE:  Whatever Happened to Joan?

hush Joan’s Replacement: Olivia

 

Joan Crawford missed a sour mint julep when she bailed out of her second movie with Bette Davis.

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte clarifies a few notions we have carried since we last saw this from back in the 1960s. Despite the handle that this was another film degrading older actresses, it is nothing of the sort.

Director Robert Aldrich gave his stars some dignified screen time amid the severed hands and decapitated heads. Bette Davis looks fresh and powerful. Taking over from Crawford was Olivia De Havilland in an unusual turn as the harsh cousin who allegedly comes to the rescue of her faded Southern Belle cousin who has fallen into hard times and dementia.

The cast is marvelous: Joseph Cotten shows up as a syrupy doctor and Agnes Morehead is the floozie housekeeper. You will also find Mary Astor as Charlotte’s archrival Jewel Mayhew.

The film gave a few character actors their first juicy roles: Bruce Dern is the beau of Bette in 1927 who loses his head over her advances. George Kennedy shows up as a blue collar house wrecker. To top it all off, Aldrich brought back Victor Buono from Baby Jane to play Bette’s father in the flashback scenes; his giant portrait dominates the library for the remainder of the movie.

The film is not a horror picture at all. It is a crime drama that comes across as Tennessee Williams gone awry among magnolia blossoms.

You can’t help but see Joan Crawford in the Olivia role, though De Havilland makes a strong case. What a shame that Joan couldn’t abide Bette enough to see through to finish this picture. It’s a remarkable movie.

If you expect bloody scenes, this is antiseptic by modern standards—but suspense and melodrama is always delicious when old stars give their last hurrahs.

Round 6: Hush, Hush, Sweet Bette & Joan

domestic life with Joan Jackie Hoffman as Mamasita

DATELINE:   Feud Revs Its Engine

With Oscar behind them, and no decent roles ahead, Joan and Bette must come to terms with the marketing of their careers in another episode of the miniseries Feud.

Hitting its stride from the opening, this episode features a trailer for Strait-Jacket with Joan as an axe murderess. Jessica Lange plays in the preview for one god-awful movie.

What’s worse, Joan Crawford agreed to do the cheesy marketing campaign for William Castle’s Grade-D movie. In an homage to true bad taste, director John Waters makes a delightful cameo as Castle.

Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci) returns to the series for a swan song: he labels the genre “hagsploitation” and calls in Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina) to produce and direct another. Warner nixes Ann Sheridan as Bette’s costar: the public wants Joan and Bette to resume their hate affair.

Bob Alrich is ready to lash back at Warner for his final revenge against the movie mogul, even as his personal life is falling apart.

Hedda Hopper (Judy Davis) on her last legs comes in to blackmail Joan for a porno film she made in the 1920s. It seems Crawford’s world is collapsing in on her—and she must relent and make another film with Bette for the money.

Small slights mount as Joan tries to gather her strength to do another movie with her archrival Davis. In the process she nearly alienates her loyal assistant, the hatchet-faced Mamasita (scene-stealer Jackie Hoffman).

With Bette taking creative control on the new motion picture, Joan may be facing a doomsday scenario.

 

Round Five: Bette, Joan, & Oscar in The Eternal Triangle

DATELINE:  Feud Progresses

oscar night

As the Oscar race for 1963 heats up, Joan Crawford and Hedda Hopper begin a campaign to deny Davis her third winning Academy Award. Feud takes another turn for the dark side.

In the meantime, Bette calls on old pal Olivia de Havilland for comfort. Played by Catherine Zeta-Jones as the saccharine Melanie Wilkes, they commiserate at which one has the worst Joan in their lives (Joan Fontaine being Olivia’s sister).

Bette wants Olivia there at the Oscars as her escort to show not all actresses of their generation hate the bombastic thespian who is more like Margo Channing than she herself realizes.

Once again the series drops names like they were F-bombs. Cary, Doris, Loretta, receive calls from Joan as she touts anyone but Bette to win the Oscar. She needs to influence about 100 Academy voters to deny Bette the winning statuette.

Wearing a variety of ugly hats (her hallmark), Hedda Hopper hisses into every scene, played by Judy Davis in fine fettle as the confidante of Joan and detractor of Bette in the contemporary gossip columns of the era.

This episode has far more pathos and fewer guffaws. Surprising moments include the deep friendship exhibited by DeHavilland for her friend Bette, and the kindness shown to Joan by Anne Bancroft.

Again, the series production flashes with a rich tapestry of colors, especially in Crawford’s wardrobe, but also in the sets. Like poisonous flowers, the most beautiful and attractive hues will be the deadliest. This TV show features gorgeous set design

Round Four: Bette & Joan in Post Production

DATELINE: Hold the Oscar

 lange as Crawford Crawfish

For those who forgot, we are reminded that Bette Davis gave the Academy Award its nickname, “Oscar,” because he resembled an old flame. As you might expect, Joan Crawford did not appreciate this usurping of Hollywood legend.

The two stars await bad news in the fourth episode. Word of mouth is that Baby Jane, or mistakenly called Baby Doll, is a stinkeroo. And, their work has not brought in more roles. In fact, everyone has lost faith in their project.

But, a sneak preview is a shocker, even more than the movie. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is a hit. That sends Bette and Joan into different strata of psychology. Bette revels in the rejuvenation, and Joan realizes she is second banana for the critics.

Director Bob Aldrich (Alfred Molina) also comes to realize one-time success will not change his career. Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci) wastes no time in belittling him as much as star Frank Sinatra who proves a boorish star in his rat pack picture directed by Aldrich.

The series continues to use sharp-edged Hollywood trivia to provide laughs and hoots about the era and the foibles of the stars. It was the age of television as a publicity machine—and Bette goes all out on TV guest roles (as in Perry Mason, or on talk shows like Jack Paar), while Joan wallows in drink, fires her agents, makes drunken calls to Bette.

All this precedes the dreaded announcement for nominations for Oscar; everyone thinks Bette Davis is a shoo-in, and Crawfish is a dead fish.

The crux is that we the viewers enjoy this stuff more than those “old broads,” as Crawford takes offense to Davis’s characterization.

 

 

Round Three: Bette & Joan Battle to a Draw

DATELINE: More Juice and Sauce

sarandon as davis

Sarandon as Bette Davis

With the principal photography on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane completed by the end of the third episode of the series Feud, you might wonder where the show goes from here.

During the third episode both women Davis and Crawford seem to miss working together, no matter how difficult and painful they are to each other.

Their lives off the screen became increasingly empty and lonely, alienated from their rebellious daughters, and wallowing in self-pity over growing older with little happiness to show for it.

Along the way, there are still plenty of laughs when it comes to their association. They never had a female friend of the same peerage, and however hard they knock heads, there is some respect for the other.

If anyone is the villain in this series, it is the dreaded dragon Hedda Hopper – the venomous gossip columnist who suckers in Joan repeatedly, but never Bette. She prints vile gossip wheedled out of Mommy Dearest.  Joan begins to regret most of it.

Along the way that Bette becomes quite attached to obese and gay actor Victor Buono (Dominic Burgess) and even bailed him out of jail when he’s caught in a police sting operation with a young man.

Suffering constant dyspepsia, Alfred Molina seems trapped in Robert Aldrich’s character, feeling self-loathing for his cruel misuse of the star actresses at the behest of Jack Warner (Stanley Tucci).  Aldrich’s assistant tells him that he is directing a war movie after all, though he loathed to take on such projects.

The lead performances are luminous in every case of the show, and Sarandon and Lange seem to fit into their classic star counterparts with increasing ease. The moments when Joan and Bette socialize highlight their wish for need for friends. By the end of the episode, they’ve gone to neutral corners.

Aldrich is surprised and astounded that his great actresses both were filling with energy and youth in all their final scenes, they were so enjoying the creative opportunities.

Still to come is the Oscar fight and the attempt to make another movie together that will end in utter failure. Every scene has been filled with pathos and hilarity, but surely may only resonate with those knowing Hollywood history.

Round Two, Joan & Bette Feud

DATELINE:  Other Vain Women

titans 2

Bette and Joan may not have realized, at first, that their bitter enemy was not the other woman, but was simple vanity.

Though they have every intention of working together amicably, as Jack Warner states, it is more like an agreement between Stalin and Hitler in part two of the series Feud. Warner comes across as a two-bit Mussolini.

As Bette and Joan, Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange become more convincing in their roles, again playing the actresses years earlier in movie clip flashbacks. They are remarkable impersonators, but the characters are grand enough in gesture and attitude to allow for ample performances.

Picked apart by studios who want to see venom on the screen, the two stars are also victims of their media friends, Louella and Hedda, the gossip columnists who most profit from an open warfare on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

In this realm, Robert Aldrich seems to suffer moral nausea at the idea that he must pit the actresses against each other to keep his own job.

An uneasy peace between the stars descends rapidly, setting the stage for a bumpy behind-the-scenes Hollywood story to fill up five times the amount of time of the original movie.

Every detail seems guaranteed to elicit glee and guffaws at the foibles and vanities of the two women. At the backstory of the series is the pathos and desperation that goes into their careers. Sarandon and Lange acquit themselves admirably.

If there are amusing high points, one includes Bette Davis meeting her co-star Victor Buono (Dominic Burgess) over coffee and donuts. She thinks he is the caterer, but the zaftig Buono tells her he is her romantic leading man—a fat homosexual.

We cannot know what Bette’s face looked like upon hearing this, but Sarandon provides a fairly good approximation.

Ripe details and dropped names permeate the script—which may be lost on young viewers, but those with a knowledge of Hollywood history will be in stitches.

Baby Jane Revisited: The Real Bette & Joan

DATELINE: Hammer & Tong with Crawford & Davis

The original 1962 movie starring the two titans when they clashed on screen probably deserves another look today.

First, one must realize that there is no garish color here, as in the TV series, Feud. This movie was dreary black and white, but not quite film noir as it takes place mostly in Los Angeles sunshine. Yet, it is not the “horror” genre as described in the series.

This picture falls mostly into the surreal realm of Sunset Boulevard. It has more laughs in common with Psycho than other films in the genre: indeed, the interior of the house where the Hudson sisters live looks surprisingly like the Bates mansion. In fact, Baby Jane’s next door neighbor is Mrs. Bates!

All jokes aside, once Bette puts on her Jane make-up, she chews up the scenery. We almost expect her to gnaw on Joan’s leg. Singing the perverse, “I wrote a letter to Daddy,” we are as chilled as Blanche Hudson as she listens in her wheelchair in horror to Bette’s warped ditty.

Neither actress is provided with any escape to their former glamour. In the less flashy role, Crawford must stoically endure snide comments from Davis about being a “rotten stinking actress.” We are treated to heyday film clips of Bette and Joan in their prime in a flashback. Yet, the actresses clearly gave up their dignity for art.

Baby Jane goes over the edge and into weirdness upon discovering that Blanche plans to commit her to an asylum and sell their home. There is not a bloodbath here, though Baby Jane is frightening when it comes to parakeets, rats, and the housekeeper.

Even next to Psycho, this is a far more muted depiction of madness and torment. It lives up to its reputation because it is a joy to see the great stars in one final star turn. Davis received an Oscar nomination, and Crawford did not. It doesn’t matter. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? remains cinema gold.