Monday, February 27, 2006

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, by Henry Farrell

(pb; 1960)

From the back cover:

“Baby Jane, a child star of early vaudeville, resented having to grow up in the shadow of her prettier sister Blanche Hudson, who became Hollywood’s reigning love goddess. Now, some fifty years later, they are together and alone. And reality has toppled crazily into eerie fantasy.

“Blanche now finds she is growing old in the shadow cast by Baby Jane – and a very sinister shadow it is.”

Review:

This gothic tale of sisterly love gone seriously wrong is at once beautiful and ugly. Beautiful because there is a weird kind of love between the two sisters, the invalid Blanche (whose films many people remember) and Baby Jane, whose petulant, erratic star waned the moment their parents died. Ugly because there’s a malevolent, creepy undertone to this novel, an undertone that doesn’t take long to rise to the troubling surface: consistently shocking, sad, with some great twists, this is a perfect read.



Two movies resulted from this novel.

The first version was released stateside on October 31, 1962.

Bette Davis played Baby Jane Hudson. Joan Crawford played Blanche Hudson. Victor Buono as Edwin Flagg.

Robert Aldrich directed the film, from a script by Lukas Heller.



The second version aired on American television on February 17, 1991. David Greene directed the film, from a script by Brian Taggert.

Vanessa Redgrave played Blanche Hudson. Lynn Redgrave, Vanessa's real-life sister, played Jane Hudson. John Glover played Billy. Amy Steel played Connie. Bruce A. Young played Dominick.

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