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Actober: Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Bette Davis is a memorable name in the history of both the world and the American cinema in her career. Starting from her youth years and bringing every drop of talent to the audience. After proving that she was a very talented actress both in theatre and on screen, her success was proof that her next films would be among the classics.

All About Eve, Now Voyager, Dark Victory, as well as the current – and wide-ranging meaning – of the film that still holds evidence of the cinematic genius of Bette Davis. Here, I will talk about What Ever Happen To Baby Jane? Which is a kind of psychological thriller that was a huge success both during filming and the vision created in movie history.

Bette Davis

Robert Aldrich directed What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, and is actually a novel adaptation. While Aldrich adapted the film to the cinema, the two sisters in the book actually wanted to reconcile the tensions between them in real life. So the director had two names in his head. Until that time, the tension between them had reached the highest level. And so to Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, who according to Aldrich, for this film, were two of the great actresses.

The stories that show the sisters in parallel relationships in the book, reinforce the belief that this was truly important to the success of the film, according to the director. The film is also an outburst for Aldrich’s career in Hollywood, whose name was not recognized as an auteur. So he’s matching himself with Davis and Crawford – both actress who have retreated after great achievements and awards, and have been replaced by the new generation for that period.

However, these two stars, who have never compromised their talents and achievements, are crushed in Hollywood’s male-dominated system. This is the beginning of the story in the film. The film is based on the tension between Jane and Blanche. Jane Hudson’s name is forgotten over the years with her sister’s acting career, Blanche, who has become a big movie star, and is known by everyone.

Jane’s only success in her career is with the Baby Jane character, dressed up in a kind of armour, her defense mechanism. Waiting to raise the sense of revenge. The story that develops when Jane has to care for Blanche, because of her condition, draws an expression of how she wore her three different characters.

The scenes that show that Bette Davis is a great talent start right here. The reason I say three different characters is because Jane’s infant character, which she carries in her subconscious, is both a second Blanche, who has taken to mimicking her sister, and Jane herself, acting with her current psychological dilemma.

In the film, Davis, who has experienced tides between these three different dynamics and skillfully displays character changes, is a nightmare for Blanche. But also collecting the tense elements of the film. At this point, of course, Bette Davis was making a bond with Joan Crawford’s excellent acting. However, when the tension between the two of them goes on in real life, it happens in two different ways – integrating the actress’s acting persona with the character in the film.

Bette Davis

Another aspect of the character Jane Hudson should be discussed. The way it is reflected to the audience. Jane continues to look like a big doll, her clothes, make-up and hair, and her performance in horror movies are also somewhat clichéd. This look, which makes her performance iconic, helps us to make sense of Jane’s character transitions. Bette Davis’ voice and gestures make it one of the unforgettable performances in the history of cinema – with Baby Jane’s performance keeping the audience on the spot throughout the film.


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