Entertainment » Movies

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

by Ed Tapper
Contributor
Monday Oct 22, 2012
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Robert Aldrich’s 1962 cult classic " Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," succeeds on several levels. It is arguably the campiest movie ever made, with aging Hollywood divas Bette Davis and Joan Crawford pulling out all the histrionic stops. It heralded a resurgence of nostalgia for the golden age Hollywood glamor. Highly influential, the film spawned several imitations, many of them bearing similar "questions," as titles, and featuring other Hollywood stars of yesteryear. Lastly, and most importantly, it is a damn good movie! Once you are caught up in the suspense, you’re hooked. It was a sheer stroke of genius to cast longtime adversaries Bette and Joan as sisters and former rival movie stars sharing digs and a reasonable copasetic life in a dilapidated mansion...that is until the flamboyant Jane begins to unhinge. And the acting is terrific all-around, with Crawford in peak form, and Davis delivering one of her greatest cinematic tours-de-force.

The undying popularity of the film has insured its availability on several video formats. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the film’s release, Warner Brothers is now issuing "Baby Jane" on Blu-ray.

The disc is packaged in a hardcover book flanked by 36 glossy pages of essays, photos, clippings, reviews and trivia. As is the case with most black-and-white films, the high-definition Blu-ray medium is not a dramatic improvement over prior DVD releases. Yet the sharper detail certainly accentuates every hideous crevice of Jane’s heavily powdered face, and the baroque details of the shabby mansion she shares with her invalid sister, Blanche. Certainly, it is the best transfer of the film issued to date.

"...a veritable primer in the education of most gay men..."

In case you miss any of the classic lines from the film, which comprise a veritable primer in the education of most gay men, simply switch on the commentary of Charles Busch and Lipsynka. Who better to appreciate and comment on the vicious subtleties of the film than two rival drag queens! The fabulous extras also contain a profile on Joan Crawford, one on Bette hosted by Jodie Foster, and a third on the rivalry of the two divas. An indispensable documentary on the making of the film is also included, as well as a hysterical TV guest spot of Bette on the "Andy Williams Show." She sings and twists to a rock version of the film’s title song.

Released just in time for the holidays, the "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" Blu-ray is an essential stocking-stuffer for any lover of high camp and great acting.

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane": 50th Anniversary Edition
Blu-ray
$34.99
www.warnervideo.com

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