Filmsite Movie Review
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

Day Eight: (Thursday)

That morning in Edwin's apartment as he prepared a breakfast of corn flakes and a sliced-up banana as a topping, he began to argue with his mother about his lost opportunity with Jane Hudson, asserting: "I'll manage, lovey." From a friend named Hazel who worked in the studio back in the mid-1930s, she dramatically related the horrible car accident and resulting scandal that had happened at the Hudson home:

Just after one of those studio parties. And right in front of her own house. Jane Hudson drove a car straight at her own sister and crippled her for life...She tried to murder her own sister....they would've [arrested her], but the studio had it all hushed up on account of Blanche Hudson's career...So the fine woman you've chosen to run around with turns out to be broke and a murderer as well.

When Edwin suggested he would ask Jane about it the next time they met, Dehlia vehemently disagreed: "You wouldn't see a woman like that again?" - and added more awful details to her gossipy story:

After she'd run down her own sister, your precious Jane Hudson ran off and left her there to die, like some poor animal. She ran off and disappeared for three whole days....Oh, they found her all right. They found her all right. They found her in some hotel room with a man that she'd never even seen before.

Back at the Hudson residence later in the day, Jane answered the hallway telephone and received a disturbing call from the Los Angeles police department about a missing persons report filed by Elvira Stitt's cousin. She answered with an alibi: "She left about a week ago...I don't know a thing." After the call, Jane glanced upstairs, cried out: "Blanche! Blanche!", and then raced up the stairway to Blanche's bedroom, without switching on the light, to scream out her dilemma to her sister in a lengthy monologue. Blanche remained essentialy silent - from either fear, starvation, dehydration or exhaustion during their encounter at her bedside. Jane expressed fear, agitation, confusion, and contorted rationalization for her homicidal tendencies:

Jane: The police are looking for Elvira. It wasn't my fault. She wouldn't go away, you heard her, she wouldn't leave me alone. I don't know what to do, Blanche. What am I going to do? (Jane ripped off the tape on Blanche's mouth) What am I going to do? If they find her, we'll have to run away. That's, that's what we'll do. We'll just go away. Oh, but then I wouldn't see Edwin anymore. He wouldn't like what I did. It wasn't my fault, but he wouldn't like what I did. I don't care. We'll, we'll go to the beach. We'll go and live at the seashore all the time, like we used to when I was little and Daddy was there. And then, and maybe we'll have friends. People would come and see us. Oh, I'd like that. Blanche, Blanche, Blanche, listen to me. (Jane untied Blanche's hands) You know, I always wanted everything to be nice, don't you? I don't see how Elvira could make me do a thing like that. I just don't understand. It was like that time in the hotel room when they came and told me that you were hurt and that I'd done it. And there was a big man there, a policeman. And he hit me and he, he slapped me. And I tried to tell him that I couldn't do a thing like that. Not to my own sister. (Jane stroked Blanche's hair)
Blanche: Jane.
Jane: He said I was a liar.
Blanche: The accident. It -
Jane: No, it wasn't an accident. I did it. You told me so yourself.
Blanche: But I, I, um - I must tell you.
Jane: (screaming) I don't want to talk about it! Every time I think about something nice, you remind me of all the bad things. I only want to talk about the nice things. Remember when Daddy and I used to rehearse at the beach? (Jane began dancing) I'd be dancing on the sand and all the people would come and watch, all crowd around to see Baby Jane Hudson. (The doorbell rang) What'll I do?
Blanche: Let them in.
Jane: What if ---
Blanche: It - it may be Edwin.
Jane: (smiling broadly) Of course, it's Edwin. (Jane ran off, but then turned returned with an accusatory and angry tone) You want to make him tell on me! (She again trussed up and gagged Blanche before going downstairs to answer the door)

At the front door that evening, two policemen (identified earlier by the inset of one sleeved arm ringing the doorbell) flanked a slightly-drunken Edwin who had been picked up in front of the house - purportedly on his way to see her. Meanwhile upstairs, Blanche freed one bound wrist and removed the gag tape. Edwin was released and entered the home as the officers departed. Jane pleaded with Edwin, who was there to angrily demand his payment: "I have the money. Really, I have. But don't be mean to me." She suggested first sharing a drink with her in the kitchen - "and then we can be friends again, and everything."

After pouring their drinks, Jane also proposed bringing him a special present -- she returned with "a genuine Baby Jane Doll" in her arms. Edwin reacted with both incredulity and slurred speech: "Marvelous...very lifelike." As Jane went to get his money, he stuffed the doll into the wheelchair - and then had another idea. He wheeled himself in the chair into the hallway, with a blanket draped over his head and the doll cradled in his lap, as he giggled: "Whoooo! Here comes the Super Chief! Whoooo!" At the top of the stairs, Jane saw him, screamed: "Edwin! Stop it!" - and ran down and pulled off the blanket. At that very moment, Blanche toppled her nightstand and table lamp next to her bed. Edwin questioned: "What was that?" Jane deflected the question: "Nothing. It's nothing. I didn't do anything." As the two ran up the stairs toward the bedroom door, Jane blocked his passage and warned: "She'll take you away from me."

Edwin pushed Jane aside and entered the room - he encountered the ghastly sight of Blanche half-dead and pleading in a half-whisper: "Please - help me." His mouth agape, Edwin was stunned and amazed: "She's dying. For God's sake. She's dying." He rushed for the stairs and told Jane as she tried to prevent him from running off: "Get away from me." Jane ran after him gesturing with crumpled bills for him ("Edwin, I've got your money!"), but he escaped out the front door. Jane came to the realization that everything would be revealed:

He hates me. He hates me. He's going to tell.

She ran to Blanche's room, untied her, and frantically demanded: "You've got to help me. We, we've got to leave. Please, please, Blanche. Help me. We - please, please help, we've got..." - as she struggled to hoist Blanche from the bed, to drag her downstairs to the wheelchair, and out to the front seat of the car. In the middle of the night, Jane's car pulled up to a Santa Monica beach and parked.

[Note: the concluding beach scene finale was actually filmed in Malibu, CA, at reportedly the same location where director Aldrich had filmed the final scene of Kiss Me Deadly (1955).]

Day Nine: (Friday)

"Baby Jane" drove the two of them in her black Lincoln Continental convertible to the beach in Santa Monica (along the Pacific Coast Highway) to evade authorities, knowing that sooner or later, she would be charged with the bludgeoning hammer-murder of their suspicious maid Elvira.

In the early morning darkness, Jane was walking barefooted along the beachfront next to the ocean. Clearly smiling, she frolicked over to her sister, who was lying on the sand and looking starved and dehydrated - and near death. Mostly talking to herself, Jane chortled as she covered her feet in sand:

I like this place. We can just sit here for a while. And pretty soon the sun will come up, and it will be nice. You should look at the sea. It has all lights on it. You used to like that.

By afternoon, the authorities were reporting (on radio and in newspaper headlines) about a 'kidnap-slaying mystery'. A Citizen News newspaper headline was spotted next to a female sunbather: "HUDSON MAID FOUND IN VENTURA SUBURB" - (Jane had presumably deposited Elvira's body in a garbage dumpster miles from her home, on her way to the beach). The girl's portable radio interrupted programming with a news flash:

We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin. At 11:25 this morning, all local law-enforcement agencies had assigned special details to the kidnap-slaying mystery that surrounds the famed Hudson sisters. It is believed that Blanche Hudson, film great of the early thirties, has been forcibly abducted by her sister, former child star, Baby Jane Hudson, from the family home on North [should be South] McCadden in Hollywood sometime between the hours of 10:00 pm and 10:30 pm last evening. With the exception of one witness, who reportedly saw the Hudson car, a 1940 or 1941 black convertible, heading west on Wilshire in Santa Monica, no report has been received to date concerning the missing sisters.

Incongruously, the completely unhinged Jane was like a little child, playing with a bucket filled with sand, while Blanche wrapped in a heavy blanket was still lying weak and almost motionless behind her. At a open counter lunch truck parked next to the highway, two motorcycle policemen were seated having lunch, as one of them was scanning a newspaper. The black attendant-vendor Ernie (Ernest Anderson) asked about the recent murder headlines:

Ernie: I see you found that colored woman.
Officer: Yeah, they found her all right.
Ernie: Sure is a rotten way to get your picture in the papers. You reckon you'll ever find that Baby Jane, or whatever her name is?
Officer: Sure, we'll find her, but I guess maybe it'll be too late.

At that moment, a young man (and Ernie) notified the police at the counter of a car parked halfway off the road since early that morning - and it was an old Lincoln convertible - with the keys still in it. Both police officers immediately went to check the line of cars by the road and found the vehicle, remarking: "This is it." Meanwhile, Jane was briefly playing catch with a beach ball with two young girls. She momentarily lost her bearings, but then returned to Blanche to remove her hot blanket. Blanche admitted that she was dying and needed help: ("Help me, I'm afraid. Find someone, a doctor...If I die, you'll be alone...Jane, I'm dying. There's no time. You must listen"), but Jane refused.

In the film's most crucial revelatory scene, Blanche confessed to her sister the truth (a decades-old secret) about the car crash accident that had paralyzed her. The revelation was that Blanche had been the one behind the wheel of the car, crippling herself with a spinal injury (snapped vertebrae) when she tried to run over drunken Jane standing before iron gates, because of the embarrassment, humiliation and bad press Jane was giving her. "Baby Jane" had moved out of the way just in time, but was so drunk that she didn't know what had transpired. Blanche had managed to crawl out of the car to the gate - and when Jane saw her there, she thereafter blamed herself.

I made you waste your whole life thinking you'd crippled me...You didn't do it, Jane. I did it myself. Don't you understand? I crippled myself. You weren't driving that night. You weren't driving. You were too drunk. I wouldn't let you drive. I made you go open the gates. I watched you get out of the car. You'd been so cruel to me at the party, imitating me, making people laugh at me. I watched you get out of the car. I wanted to run you down, crush you. But you saw the car coming. I hit the gates. I snapped my spine.

After being released from the guilt she'd felt over the years, Jane reacted:

Then you mean, all this time we could have been friends?

Blanche finished her tale - revealing clearly why she had remained with her hateful sister for so many years:

You were frightened and ran away. I managed to crawl out of the car up to the gates. When they found me, they assumed it was your fault. You were so drunk and confused, you didn't know any better. You weren't ugly then. I made you that way. I even did that.

The film's climactic ending echoed the beginning when Jane offered to go to the vendor stand and purchase two ice cream cones for them. At the stand, she decided upon the flavor of strawberry, and then ran off without paying 40 cents for them. The two Los Angeles motorcycle policemen who had been alerted to Jane's car parked nearby, were transmitting their discovery to headquarters and were asking for backup when they noticed Jane running back onto the beach with the two cones. After pursuing after her, they frantically asked for the whereabouts of her sister Blanche - essentially the last lines of the film's dialogue:

We've been looking all over for you. I'm sorry, but we must find your sister. Is she down here on the beach with you?...We want to find your sister, because I think maybe she needs help. I think maybe she's in trouble. Won't you show us where she is, please? Won't you take us to her? Please, Miss Hudson.

Someone in the crowd muttered about Jane's insanity: "She must be some kind of a nut." Without answering the officers directly, Jane realized that they had drawn around them a curious circle of beachgoers. To fulfill her attention-craving desires, she reverted to her song-and-dance routine of years past - she happily spun, pirouetted and danced in the midst of the surrounding crowd. The officers left the circle when they discovered Blanche for themselves lying motionless on the beach, as the camera pulled back and the film concluded with an ambiguous fate. (Whether Blanche was dead or not was left uncertain!)

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