HANGOVER MATINEES: Hollywood Gothic - What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

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Few images depict the grotesque pathos of expired Hollywood glamor better than the pancake-powdered face of an elderly Baby Jane Hudson warbling “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy” in Robert Aldrich’s elegant Gothic masterpiece. The horrifying psychodrama that plays out between physically-handicapped former ingénue Blanche Hudson and her morally-handicapped former child-star sister was famously eclipsed by reports of the vicious, elaborate mind games taking place behind-the-scenes between the film’s volatile superstars, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Barely glimpsing the sparkling universe just outside the cloistered, decaying mansion the sisters share, Aldrich’s nightmarish, tense treatment of Lukas Heller’s (The Dirty Dozen, Flight of the Phoenix) script is unequaled in its evisceration of the tenuous dreams Los Angeles fosters—with a strange sense of pride—more completely than any place on earth.

Dir. Robert Aldrich, 1962, 35mm, 134 min.

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