What Ever Happened to Baby Jane

  • Directors: Robert Aldrich
  • Producers: Robert Aldrich
  • Writers: Lukas Heller, Based on the novel by Henry Farrell
  • Genres: Drama, Horror, Thriller
  • Actors: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono

A lengthy prologue set in 1917 introduces six-year-old Baby Jane Hudson, a highly successful vaudeville performer, and her older sister Blanche, who remains in her shadow. Jane is extremely popular with the audiences and doted on by her father. Blanche resents this but, out of consideration for their mother, keeps her feelings buried.

As the two become adults, in a second prologue set in 1935, Jane fades into obscurity while Blanche becomes a renowned film actress. One night after a party, one of the sisters walks forward to open the gate to the driveway of the Hudson mansion. We see the other sister put her foot on the gas and and crash the car into the gate.

As the film reaches present day, we see that Blanche is paralyzed after the accident, and Jane is apparently the responsible party. The two have become recluses in their decaying mansion, where Jane ‘cares’ for Blanche. When Jane learns Blanche is planning to sell the house and move in with their black maid Elvira, and perhaps place her in a convalescent home, Jane holds her prisoner and increases her sadistic verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. She even kills Blanche’s pet parakeet and serves it to her sister on her dinner plate. She later performs the same gruesome prank with a dead rat.

Jane realizes Blanche could have been her friend, and goes off to a snack stand to buy ice cream cones for the two of them. Two policeman at the food stand recognize Jane and run after her. Soon, when the policemen catch Jane, a crowd gathers around her. The now completely deranged Jane begins to entertain them with a song-and-dance routine as they watch, giving her the attention she had so desperately craved. The film ends with a long shot of the beach. The police spot the limp body of Blanche and run over to her, leaving Jane happily dancing within a circle of onlookers.

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