Frankly, My Dear, Search This Blog

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" vs. "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte"

Hi there!

For starters, I'd like to say I have been proudly inducted into the "Loving Lucy Blogathon" (hosted by True Classics at, a la the banner on my sidebar which proudly declares it! This is my very first Blogothan and I'm terribly excited ;) If you Blog, you must join! And don't forget to click the banner and see the links of the other brilliant Blogs who have joined in on the Lucy loving fun!

Now that that's been said, let's get down to business... today's blog will be my first "contrasting" or "vs." blog. If you've visited my "Favorite Movies and Tv Shows" page, you've likely noticed #7 on my Movie List: "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" I simply adore that black comedy. I watched it earlier this summer and I couldn't get enough of it, so I rented a supposedly similar film, "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte."

Since the movies are quiet similar in many ways, I thought it would make a fun Blog to contrast the two, all the while giving you my "review" of them. Sort of. I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, but if I feel one coming on, don't worry - I'll capitalize it and have it in some big, blaring letters.

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962)                 
 "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte"  (1964)

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"
Bette Davis as "Baby Jane" or "Jane Hudson"       
Joan Crawford as "Blanche Hudson"
Victor Buono as "Edward Flag"
Maidie Norman as "Elvia Stitt"

   "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte"
         Bette Davis as "Sweet Charlotte" or "Charlotte Hollis"
       Olivia de Havilland as "Miriam Deering"
      Joseph Cotton as "Dr. Drew Bayliss"
         Agnes Moorehead as "Velma Cruther"
         Mary Astor as "Jewel Mayhew"
        Victor Buono as "Sam Hollis"

US Release Dates:
"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" :
October 31st, 1962
"Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte":
December 24th, 1964

(how's that for interesting release dates???!!!!)

"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962)
 Baby Jane Hudson - once a child vaudeville star, she is now washed up and alcoholic. Her sister, Blanche Hudson (Crawford) was a big time movie star in the 1930's, but became crippled in a car accident that many blame on her sister. Now, the two share a rotting LA mansion in which Blanche is dependent upon her crazy sister, who is not very happy with the way things turned out - and plans to settle this jealous score.   

"Hush, Hush... Sweet Charlotte" (1964)
Sweet Charlotte Hollis is an aging Southern belle who lost her lover years ago in an chopping incident forty years ago that many blame on her. However, there wasn't enough evidence, so she walked. When State of  Louisiana threatens to run her rotting Southern mansion over, Charlotte calls upon her only "living kin", cousin Miriam to help her... but Miriam, along with old flame Dr. Drew, having something else in mind.


Watch a Clip
"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"

"Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte"
(be forewarned: the chopping scenes towards the end are a little gruesome. Nothing like today's stuff, but still, if you are squeamish, skip the ending!)

Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) vs. Sweet Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis)
So, in "WTHBJ?" we have Baby Jane Hudson - a washed up vaudeville star who is now forced to take care of her crippled sister, Blanche (a former 1930's movie queen). Let's take a look:

And on the other hand, there's Sweet Charlotte Hollis. Driven crazy by the rumor that she murdered her lover after her called the affair off, she is now a weary and worn Southern belle who lives with her gangly maid, Velma. Let's take a look at her:

For starters, I was disappointed at the lack of character depth in Sweet Charlotte. In many ways, she is a (less hostile) version of Baby Jane, except with longer hair, less makeup, and a Southern accent. You'll feel sorry for Charlotte, too, especially as the opening credits run through, but her character is just not as likeable (er! Did I call Baby Jane likeable?) as Baby Jane. I also think Bette Davis had a better performance as the latter. Even though she had tons of opportunities  to ham it up as Sweet Charlotte (and you know that's what Bette loves to do!), Baby Jane was just a better role for her. Baby Jane is simply funnier and more awesome. So, for this round, Bette Davis as Baby Jane wins. Sorry, Sweet Charlotte... hush, hush!

Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) vs. Miriam Deering (Olivia de Havilland)
From "WTHBJ?" there is Miss Joan Crawford as Blanche Hudson, who was a big movie star in the 1930's but after becoming crippled in an accident that most blame on her sister, Jane, is dependent upon the latter and living in a rotting LA mansion. Shall we take a look?

Next in the ring we have a Ms. Miriam Deering, played by Olivia de Havilland, the scheming cousin of the supposedly crazy Charlotte Hollis. Let's get a look here!

Oh, yes, there she is! Now, at first glance, you would think that Blanche and Miriam are in the same boat in both movies - being terrorized by a physco Bette Davis. There are some tables being turned, so I won't give anything away... but keep that in mind as I contrast Blanche and Miriam. Both of these girls try to be dainty and delicate to set themselves apart greatly from the crazy Bette character. Blanche will pull at you, but she seems very defenseless and weak in times where she could have helped herself escape from her ordeal. Miriam's character doesn't get the depth we so crave for it until the end, but when it does, you'll be satisfied. I'll leave it at here because I don't want to give too much away! For this round, HHSC gets a point: the winner is Olivia de Havilland as Miriam.

Elvira Stitt (Maidie Norman) vs. Velma Cruther (Agnes Moorehead)
In "WHTBJ?" we've got Maidie Norman as Elvira Stitt, the faithful companion of Blanche Hudson.

There she is, at Blanche's bedside! Now, from "HHSC" we've got the darling Agnes Moorehead (AKA - Endora from "Bewitched"!) playing a role far from Endora as the Southern maid to Charlotte, Velma Cutler. 

There we go! Now, Elvira and Velma are both very supportive of their distressed employers. They both ** SPOILER ** ** SPOILER ** DON'T GO ANY FARTHER IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN BOTH FILMS ** INSTEAD SCROLL DOWN TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH ** save their employer's lives at a certain point, get fired by the malicious torturer, all while suffering from the same fate: death, after trying to save their employer.

Okay, sorry, I just had to throw that Spoiler in there for those of us who have seen it! Now, continuing on while comparing the two - both are pretty similar in many ways. I adore Agnes Moorehead, but I have to give this one to Maidie for her role as Elvira. The actual character of Elvira was more heroic than Velma, and the whole situation with Baby Jane and Elvira funnier. So, this one was cut close, but I'll have to mark up another point for "WHTBJ?"  - Maidie Norman as Elvira Stitt wins this round.

The "creepy songs": 
"I've Written a Letter To Daddy" vs. "Chop, Chop Sweet Charlotte"
Here is "I've Written a Letter to Daddy":

And "Chop, Chop, Sweet Charlotte":

The winner for this one is easy. It's got to be "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" from WHTBJ?. "Chop, Chop Sweet Charlotte" is awesome, too - but after we hear it run through in the opening credits, it mostly dissapears from the movie, whereas the ever-catchy "I"ve Written a Letter to Daddy" strings itself through all the way of WHTBJ?

The title songs:
"Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" vs. "Hush...Hush Sweet Charlotte"

There is the 60's style pop song, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"...

And the country song "Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte" for HHSC:

This one is also easier for me. besides the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of country music, the title song from WHTBJ? is more fun and exciting, not to mention kind of hilarious! The winner is "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (song).

Now, it's time for the final round: "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" (movie) vs. "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (movie)
So, in the past rounds, WHTBJ? chalked up four points for: Baby Jane Hudson by Bette Davis, Elvira by Maidie Norman, I've Written a Letter to Daddy, and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (song). In the next ring, there is HHSC, which earned one for: Miriam Deering by Olivia de Havilland. As you can see, HHSC didn't do that well. In my opinion, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" is the winner and easily the better movie. I give it 5 stars and only give HHSC 3. It's true, that HHSC does have more star power - you have Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, and Mary Astor (in her final film role) all in one film! But still, WHTBJ? is just the better movie. If you had to watch one or the other, easily pick WHTBJ?. However, it may be fun to rent both of the movies and contrast them yourself.

I'd like to end this very long post (I'm sorry it was so lengthy, lol!) with this awesome publicity shot. This was when Joan Crawford was supposed to be playing Miriam (I love Olivia - but it may have been interesting to see Joan in the role, so she can finally get her revenge! haha... Joan was dropped after checking into a hospital and delaying filming. Rumor has it she left because she couldn't stand working with Bette anymore). Aren't they sweet?

:) Thanks for reading! (And, of course - I don't own any of these clips or photos, and many thanks to the uploaders) 


Marcela Costa :} said...

I usually compare Whatever Happened to Baby Jane to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf! They're both such brilliant takes on human madness! This was amazing, though!

Post a Comment

I love getting comments and appreciate them so much. Comments don't require moderator's approval but I will remove your comment if it is spam or offensive. Thank you.