What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 psychological thriller-horror film based on the novel of the same title by Henry Farrell, produced and directed by Robert Aldrich and starring two longtime rival actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The film was an unexpected box office success and received widespread critical acclaim upon its release. Not only was it later nominated for five Academy Awards and won one for Best Costume Design, Black and White, it also gave rise to a succession of the psycho-biddy subgenre.
This horror story deals with two faded sibling actresses Blanche and Jane Hudson, who were living together in their decaying Hollywood house. “Baby Jane” was once a well-known vaudevillian child star but as they get older, she lived in her sister’s shadow, who became a successful film actress. After an accident that led to Blanche confined to a wheelchair, Jane began to seize absolute control of her sister. As Jane’s mind slowly went more and more crazed, her imprisonment and torment to Blanche gained ever greater extremes.
The legendary feud between two stars, Davis and Crawford, played a large part in the film’s initial success. Their intense rivalry on the set of Baby Jane went from Davis provoking Crawford by having a Coke machine installed in the dressing room, for her late husband being a Pepsi executive, to Crawford claiming Davis hit her hard in the head enough to require stitches, then her later payback to Davis by making herself as heavy as possible during the dragging scene, knowing that David had back problems. The peak moment of their feud perhaps was when only Davis got nominated for an Academy Award and Crawford actively campaigning hard against her fellow actress. As luck would have it, winner Anne Bancroft for The Miracle Worker was absent from the ceremony, so Crawford marched past Davis and accepted the statuette on Bancroft’s behalf.
Here are 32 impressive photos of the two stars in the film…