Robert Aldrich’s followup (but no relation) to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a shocker. Bette Davis again stars, with Olivia de Havilland returning to the screen in the role which Joan Crawford started but due to continued illness had to abandon.
Davis lives in the reflection of a dreadful past, the macabre murder and mutilation of her married lover hanging over her as she frequently confuses the past with the present as her mental balance is threatened. De Havilland, as her cousin, lives very much for the present – and future – as she attempts to soothe and rationalize with the deeply emotional mistress of the house.
Based upon a story by Henry Farrell, who also authored Baby Jane, screenplay by Farrell and Lukas Heller (latter scripted Jane) opens in 1927 in the Louisiana plantation house of Davis’ father, who warns a neighboring married man to break off all romantic relations with his daughter. The main story swings to the present, again in the mansion where Davis lives alone with her memories which threaten to destroy her.
Davis’ portrayal is reminiscent of Jane in its emotional overtones, in her style of characterization of the near-crazed former Southern belle, aided by haggard makeup and outlandish attire. It is an outgoing performance, and she plays it to the limit. De Havilland, on the other hand, is far more restrained but none the less effective dramatically in her offbeat role.
1964: Nominations: Best Supp. Actress (Agnes Moorehead), B&W Cinematography, B&W Costume Design, B&W Art Direction, Editing, Original Music Score, Song (‘Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte’)