Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?"

Bette Davis received her last Oscar nomination for playing Baby Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Even though Whatever Happened To Baby Jane is entertaining and slightly campy, I wasn't impressed with the film as a whole. Besides being very boring in some parts, the whole atmosphere of camp is running so rapid in the whole production. From the very time Davis starts torturing Crawford, the seriousness of the work is never relevant, and yet I always wanted it to be. But this story of a faded star who takes care of her much more famous sister when she becomes crippled is still very much alot of fun.

Of course, it's Bette Davis who got the much more interesting part. Jane is actually a much more complex character then one might think. She is haunted by the memories of her childhood, when she was really "somebody". Unfortunately, the film doesn't want to dig deep into the complexities of Jane, instead we are given a woman full of hatred for her sister and is slowly loosing it. Bette Davis does her damn best to try and capture something in Jane, and in part, she does.

For all the silliness of the performance, she gets that down fine. But, is that it? A few scattered brilliant moments are realized by Davis, like the ending, the payoff of her performance is terrific. But, still there there is that overall mix of drama, horror, and borderline comedy that just doesn't work for me. I'll admit the shining moments of Bette Davis's performance are extremely terrific, she really nails her biggest moments. And I can surely see how this performance can attract it's fans, but alas, I'm not one of them. But, there is at least something left to admire in it.


joe burns said...

A more positive review then I though she would get, I don't really understand why she was the frontrunner, it seems like a movie no Oscar voter would really like. Are your thoughts on Joan the same?

dinasztie said...

I LOVE this performance. So wild, crazy and sad. An exaggerated Norma Desmond. I loved it. I've actually become a Bette fan gradually. :)

Sage Slowdive said...

Yes, Joan is not given the good material and suffers from it badly.

Louis Morgan said...

I basically agree here, I liked it for what is was.

Brandon said...

I think what's so great about her work here is that the campy absurdity isn't simply on the surface, for a compensation of style over substance. Davis (more than the script) finds the tragic nuances and complexities of a bizarre character, which gives way for some emotionally plausible reason for the campiness.