Directed by Robert Aldrich (Kiss Me Deadly), this blackly comic thriller stars screen legends Bette Davis (All About Eve) and Joan Crawford (Johnny Guitar) as Baby Jane and Blanche Hudson, feuding siblings who are deeply critical of the other's show business successes.
With their respective moments in the spotlight now long gone - Baby Jane is a former vaudeville-era child star, while Blanche is an ex-movie star - the sisters' resentments have only grown following an automobile accident that left Blanche crippled from the waist down and Baby Jane wallowing in alcoholism and dementia. As Baby Jane's mania grows, she launches an increasingly perverse assault against her sister, one that puts both their lives at risk.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? won an Oscar at the 1963 Academy Awards Ceremony for Norma Koch's Black and White Costume Design and received the following four nominations:
Best Actress: Bette Davis
Best Supporting Actor: Victor Buono
Best Black and White Cinematography: Ernest Haller
Best Sound: Joseph D. Kelly
Dead Ringer -
Released two years after What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Dead Ringer finds Bette Davis playing warring twin sisters Margaret DeLorca and Edith Phillips. Long jealous of Margaret for her money and for marrying the man Edith loved as a younger woman, Edith finally snaps and fakes her own death before murdering her sibling and assuming her identity.
Primed to live the high-life disguised as the wealthy Margaret, Edith finds herself struggling to maintain the deception when she encounters Sergeant Jim Hobbson (Karl Malden, A Streetcar Named Desire), a police officer investigating Edith's death, as well as the unscrupulous Tony Collins (Peter Lawford, Ocean's 11), Margaret's former lover and confidante.
While the technical specifications are unknown for both What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Dead Ringer, Warner will offer Baby Jane? in a newly remastered 50th Anniversary Edition that contains a number of bonus supplements, such as:
Commentary by Charles Busch and John Epperson
Bette and Joan: Blind Ambition
1994 TNT feature All About Bette
1967 BBC feature Film Profile: Joan Crawford
Vintage Behind the Scenes with Baby Jane featurette
Excerpt from the 12/20/1962 episode of "The Andy Williams Show"
Dan-O-Rama Movie Mix trailer for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
The 50th Anniversary Edition comes packaged in a collectible 36-page digibook with "insightful essays...and photography."
The individual What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Dead Ringer discs street on October 9th.
I've long been looking forward to upgrading my DVD copy of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and I'll soon have the opportunity; the blu-ray book is icing on top of an already very sweet cake. Dead Ringer also looks intriguing. Preorders are in store for both.
The more I see of Robert Aldrich's body of work, the more I like it. I hope his Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte receives a BD release sometime soon from MGM (or, better yet, from Criterion).
A Bette Davis film on BD! And Joan Crawford to boot! Who would have expected that? A chance to see two of the great ladies of Hollywood on screen together. Let's hope it gets at least as good a transfer as Double Indemnity has gotten in Britain (review also at this site).