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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1991 film)

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Written by Henry Farrell
Brian Taggert
Directed by David Greene
Starring Vanessa Redgrave
Lynn Redgrave
Theme music composer Peter Manning Robinson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Producer(s) William Aldrich
Barry Bernardi
Editor(s) Paul Dixon
Running time 120 minutes
Release
Original channel ABC
Original release February 17, 1991 (1991-02-17)

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1991 ABC television film directed by David Greene and adapted for the small screen by Brian Taggert, based on the novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? by Henry Farrell, and the 1962 theatrical film of the same name. It stars real-life sisters Lynn Redgrave as Baby Jane Hudson and Vanessa Redgrave as Blanche Hudson, in the roles previously played by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in the 1962 adaptation.

The film was adapted to contemporary times, with Blanche's film success taking place in the 1960s instead of the 1930s. Her films were being rediscovered on home video instead of television reruns. Jane had been a child film star (replacing the original's Vaudeville success), though her films were unavailable, leading to her jealousy.

Plot

In the 1940s, young twins Jane and Blanche Hudson are famous child stars and play mostly the same roles, despite the fact that they have completely dissimilar personalities. Jane is persistent about making a career and dominates her shy sister Blanche, who spends most of her time trying to please her other half. Nevertheless, after following some acting lessons, Blanche becomes a bigger star as soon as they grew up, and the public eventually forgets about Jane. Nowadays, the sisters are living together in a large mansion. According to tabloids, Jane grew jealous of Blanche's fame and tried to kill her, but the 'accident' only resulted in paralyzing her. Blanche relives her fame due to her films being showed on television, while Jane's films are unavailable. Jane lacks in caring about her sister's well-being, and spends most of her day trying to look as youthful as possible, even though neighbors see her as a clown because of her extensive use of make-up and childish clothing. She is reluctant to bond with her neighbors Connie and Frank, who are very open about their adoration for Blanche. Blanche realizes that her sister has mental problems, and worries when she finds out that she has started drinking alcohol again, as well as turning her fan mail into hate mail. Her massage therapist Dominick worries that Jane might have found out that she is selling the house and is therefore acting out.

Jane uses many ways to torture Blanche, including cutting her hair too short, and putting worms in her food. Meanwhile, she is trying to work on a comeback, and goes to a video store in an attempt to retrieve one of her old films. Billy Korn, the store's owner, is impressed with meeting a film star, and Jane, flattered by the attention, allows him to take her out. As an aspiring filmmaker, Billy suggests that they should work together on a project, and Jane in return kisses him. Back at home, Blanche tries to warn her doctor that Jane has stopped taking her pills, though Jane overhears the conversation and physically attacks her. Blanche now realizes that her sister has lost control and tries to get out of the house, screaming for help, but Jane forces her to a room and withholds her from any possibility of outside contact.

Later that day, Jane meets with Billy - who is now being blackmailed for having photographed two underage boys naked for a magazine spread - to discuss their project. She is bothered by Blanche though, who now complains about being afraid to eat her dinner, because she fears that Jane has poisoned it. She tries to explain to Jane that she should not murder her, because there would not be any cheques coming in anymore, and Jane would be locked away. Jane calmly leaves the room and then locks the door. Downstairs, she learns that Billy has arranged for her to perform on stage again, but only if she appears with her sister. Grateful, she drops him off in Hollywood at night, though has a manic episode after he leaves, and oversees Billy interacting with his blackmailers.

Meanwhile, Blanche has made an audio tape calling out for help, which she throws in her neighbor's garden the following morning. She then finds out that Jane has forged her signature in an attempt to retrieve all the money that her sister is being owed. If successful, it would mean that there is no reason for having her around anymore, which worries Blanche. She tries to get out of the mansion, but falls from the stairs and loses consciousness. Jane, who has returned home, finds the audio tape and tries to hide Blanche's unconscious body as she finds it at the bottom of the stairs. Dominick arrives sometime later for a session, forces himself into Blanche's room and finds her tied up. Dominick tries to save her, but is stabbed in the back with scissors by Jane. She is almost caught by Billy while trying to get rid of his body.

At the end, Jane prepares herself for her second debut, and finds out on stage that Billy is posing in drag as Blanche. Jane is ridiculed by the audience and bursts out in tears. Jane gets into a manic rage and, upon returning home, she stabs Billy (who has followed her) to death. Afterwards, she turns to Blanche, who by now is severely dehydrated and deprived from food. Blanche admits that at the night she was paralyzed, she was driving herself, though never cleared Jane from her guilt because she hated her at the time. She then apologizes for never telling her the truth, and for a moment they are happy together. The police arrive sometime later to arrest Jane, and by then, Blanche has already lost consciousness. While the police try to save her, Jane walks into the ocean in an attempt to commit suicide.

Cast

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