It is Bette Davis that makes this film work. Crawford merely has to look frightened and desperate. Davis plays it over-the-top. Her performance makes Gloria Swanson's performance as Norma Desmond seem subtle. With Norma we saw a window of opportunity for her sanity to come to a new understanding. With Jane there is no going back.
Also, the ending is left open ended as to what happened to Blanche. I hate a mystery that is never completely explained.
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There is some campy fun to be had here but I did not enjoy this "B" film with two former "A" listers as much as Patrick. And I enjoyed it even less than Eric. The only way I've ever been able to enjoy this movie is as a comedy. The melodrama is far too over the top for my tastes and instead of feeling sad, or frightened by Baby Jane, I've always found her unintentionally hilarious and quite grotesque.
After the Fall
Davis does indeed steal the show from Crawford by playing to the rafters and hamming it up the way only an old pro such as herself was able. She's helped by the extra layers of makeup that have been applied to her weathered face by a trowel and the childlike dresses she wears.
Crawford underplays and her Blanche is unrealistically passive. Despite the guilt Blanche feels, she is still far too forgiving of Jane's behavior when the film begins.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
She behaves so meekly and her incessant buzzing is so annoying that at times it's actually difficult to work up much sympathy for her. Some of the humor in the film is helped by poor editing.
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Jane leaves the house in several scenes and while she's gone time seems to move at a different speed for her than it does for Blanche at home. Jane is able to drive through L. Later, Jane is able to drive to the bank and back, seemingly in the same amount of time that it takes the maid to raise a hammer in the air.
These are supposed to be moments of great tension, but I found them more funny than suspenseful. According to most accounts, Crawford and Davis didn't like each other much and stories and legends abound around the making of this film. One of the most repeated stories is that when Davis received an Oscar nomination, but Crawford did not, Crawford told the other nominees that should any of them be unable to accept their award, she would happily do it for them. And sure enough, come Oscar night, when winner Anne Bancroft was unable to pick up her award, Crawford ended up on the stage in her place.
Davis would later write in her memoir, "That year, each nominee sat in a separate dressing room backstage, equipped with a TV monitor When Anne Bancroft's name was announced, I am sure I turned white.
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Moments later, Crawford floated down the hall, past my door. I will never forget the look she gave me. And, of course, he wrote most of the lyrics and melodies that fans of the Band have been singing and humming for the past forty-odd years. His description of working on another song, meanwhile, is so bland as to be almost impenetrable: "Like most songs I wrote, it was a combination of the real and mythical.
That gave room for imagination and personalizing, along with vivid life experiences. It was there, the legend goes, that the Band took all that it had learned from years on the road, which spanned much of the history of rock and roll to that point, and compressed it into its new sound—a confident but lightly worn mixture of blues, rockabilly, soul, gospel, and country.
Yet Robertson also writes about a dark unease that took hold in the country, which got darker by , after the Band had released its brilliant first two albums. Richard Manuel was succumbing to alcoholism he would later commit suicide while on tour in , and he, Helm, and Danko who died in were getting mixed up with harder stuff as well, particularly heroin, which made them erratic collaborators.
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Robertson recalls a series of wrecked cars and missed practices. He writes that, as he stayed mostly clean, he became the group's chief caretaker and organizer, a role that increasingly wore him out. Robertson took over the practical aspects of running the group, he says, because, essentially, no one else wanted to do it. But this may be late-game spin—the person who lived the longest getting the last word.
They had fallen in love with the music, first as they sought it out on the radio and on records, later as they learned to play it, and, wonder of wonders, define it. Its brilliance is complicated, and tenuous, and in the wrong hands it fails completely, as when Joan Baez recorded an oddly upbeat and mindless version of it, in When Helm sang it, he made it sound much older than it was, as if it had been written in rather than But the Robertson-Helm feud is an old and perhaps irresolvable story. Gail rated it really liked it Apr 09, Melea marked it as to-read Aug 31, Gary Sweeney added it May 21, Rose marked it as to-read Aug 06, Carmen Tourney marked it as to-read Aug 19, Ann Reinke marked it as to-read Sep 28, McFarland added it Mar 13, Ginny marked it as to-read Jan 18, Sue F marked it as to-read Jul 07, Brandon marked it as to-read Sep 23, Ashley marked it as to-read Jan 02, Abby Rose marked it as to-read May 27, Yvonne Lacey marked it as to-read Oct 26, Traci tucker marked it as to-read Oct 27, Kris marked it as to-read Mar 20, Debi Davidson marked it as to-read Jul 15, Susan marked it as to-read Apr 17, Abbie marked it as to-read Sep 19, Deborah L.
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