What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), produced and directed by Robert Aldrich.

Two ex-showbiz sisters in a big old house: the one in a wheelchair is terrorized and starved by the psychotic one.

It's well done, but 2h13m is plenty long for this. The photography is at times exceptionally fine. The finale on the beach rises to a higher level of macabre dread.

Joan Crawford and Bette Davis did not get along at all off-stage, but both needed a comeback vehicle and worked hard on this exploitation thriller. It worked for them. Audiences were shocked to see them in these roles and there is unexpected violence: murder with a hammer and Crawford being kicked across the floor.

Davis always had exotic looks and a mannered acting style: she just eats up the role of gruesome ex-child star. The bit where she dances one of her old numbers, twirls and shows her thighs: that is genuinely creepy.

This inspired a brief psycho-biddy genre, which is a bit cruel: both leads were in their mid-50s, made to look older.

Frank De Vol score, a good one.

Available on Blu-ray with a rather good image. Two excited film buffs provide the commentary track: they appreciate both leads and say good things about Joan Crawford, but they adore Bette Davis.

They point out the two women are playing in different movies: Crawford is in a straightforward thriller while Davis is doing a ghastly comic interpretation of same. The combination works.