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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Directed by Robert Aldrich

USA, 1962

Cornerhouse, 18 December 2012

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Hollywood does Grand Guignol.

That would be one way of conveying the rancid atmosphere permeating every aspect of this extraordinary film.

It’s a story of two sisters, one a former child star and the other an actress from Hollywood’s Golden Age.  They live apart from the world, bound together by an ardent hate, a toxic love.  How does this manifest itself?  Well, there is horror and grotesque spectacle, especially when it comes to Bette Davis’s old woman masquerading as a spoilt little girl.  There’s jet black comedy and sadistic playfulness, the director involving the viewer in the sisters’ cruel games.  And there is the odd piece of kinkiness, not least in the vision of Joan Crawford bound and gagged.

One of those films that may have inspired Kenneth Anger to write Hollywood Babylon, and certainly a story he’d love to have unearthed.

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