EXCLUSIVELY AT IFI
After Hitchcock upped the ante on screen sensation in 1960’s Psycho, the challenge was for Hollywood to try and match it, prompting director Robert Aldrich to conjure up this novel shocker featuring genuine old-school movie stars. Taking a leaf out of Sunset Boulevard with a story about the mouldering legacy of long-gone stardom, Aldrich did what no-one had ever managed to do before – he persuaded sworn real-life rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford to share the screen as a now aged one-time child-star and her wheelchair-bound sibling, conducting psychological warfare in the confines of their crumbling Beverly Hills residence.
It’s Joan who gets the more restrained, slightly sympathetic role, but to her chagrin she had the movie stolen from her by Davis’ full-on rendering of the grotesque former ‘Baby Jane’. The mutual loathing certainly burns off the screen in this unforgettable encounter, pitched perfectly between camp comedy and sinister suspense. They just don’t make stars with out-sized personalities like this anymore! (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)