Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? The novel
The novel that came before the movie
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane was a chilling film. I've loved it - an been horrified by it - since I first saw it, and that was many years ago, it's just so delightfully creepy. But it's only relatively recently that I realized that it began with a novel.
And it's as scary as the movie
Maybe seeing the movie first helps, because then you can really visualize the characters, I thought. But the way this book is written, I believe that I would have still understood the despair and the heartache that is so evident. The way the characters are described - from their early days until their old age - is totally and completelychilling.
In the introduction, we learn about the relationship between the two actresses who played Baby Jane and her sister, Blanche. They were of course, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
A well-known rivalry
I'd vaguely heard about a rivalry between the two actresses but in the book, in gossipy Hollywood style, we're told about some of the issues the two women had both before and after the making of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. And yet it was apparently Joan Crawford who suggested Bette Davis for the role. Maybe she thought that the animosity between the two would make the movie more electric?
Even the cover
I even find the cover of this book spooky - a discarded and broken doll, its face cracked and its damaged rosebud lips.
They are so reminiscent of the character of Baby Jane Hudson - the one-time child star who even as an older woman wears her hair in ringlets and dresses like a little girl.
The most chilling story
If you haven't read the book - or seen the movie - I'd strongly urge you to do both. There is nothing scarier than these.
The film - a chilling psychological thriller
Two sisters who are 'in later life' live together. One,Joan Crawford, was a glamorous star of the silent movies in her day.
Now she is crippled and largely at the mercy of her sister, Baby Jane. Jane was a star too, but a child star.
In this film she is a combination of a child who has never grown up and a bitter old woman with hate and resentment making her a cripple too - but emotionally.
The ending of this film is particularly chilling.
See for yourself
See a selection of scenes from the film
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