The Plot Of 'What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?' Sheds Light On The 'Feud' Behind-The-Scenes
Hatfields and McCoys, Campbells and MacDonalds, history is littered with famous feuds, especially in the history of the entertainment industry. Real life feuds are often stranger, more passionate, and more captivating than fiction. So, it's no surprise that Ryan Murphy is taking on the topic in his next project. Ryan Murphy's latest anthology series Feud: Bette and Joan premieres Sunday, March 5, on FX and chronicles the legendary, lifetime feud between actors Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. The rift reached new levels during the filming of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, when Feud is set. So, what is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? about?
Both Crawford and Davis, who co-starred in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, knew that the film was key to maintaining success in both of their careers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While the women did work together to create a successful film (the same THR article notes the movie scored five oscar nominations!), the feud reached a public peak after filming wrapped, and followed the women for the rest of their lives.
The film follows aging sisters Jane, played by Davis, and Blanche, played by Crawford. Jane was a Vaudeville child star who was favored by their father. While Blanche was not a famous actress as a child, her career took off in adulthood as Jane's faded away. An accident causes Blanche to become wheelchair bound and the majority of the film takes place in the aging actors' home, where Blanche is basically housebound. Things turn creepy and violent as Jane unravels and Blanche becomes forcefully detached from the outside world.
As Jane loses her grasp on reality, her jealousy takes over and she begins to separate her sister from the outside world. She takes aways Blanche's phone, so she can't call for help, and starts denying her food. In one iconic, demented scene, Jane serves Blanche her dead pet parakeet. Jane continues on a plan to regain her childhood stardom and thwarts her sister's efforts at getting help from the outside world. Things escalate when Blanche crawls down the stairs and is discovered calling the doctor for help and Jane beats her nearly to death. When the maid Jane fired, Elivra, returns to check on Blanche, she is murdered by Jane. Time passes and Elvira's family is starting to ask questions, then her body is discovered. In a panic, Jane drives Blanche to the beach. At the beach, Blanche reveals that she was the driver in the accident that left her paralyzed. Blanche had actually tried to strike Jane with the car because she had been mean at a party. All of these years, Jane had blamed herself. But, the realization comes too late. When the police arrive, Jane begins to dance before the growing crowd. Her delusion has taken over and she believes that the concerned throng is an audience and she is performing, just as she did as a child. Blanche's fate is not revealed. It is up to the viewer to decide if she survived.
While the fictional sisters' mutual jealousy turned violent on screen, Crawford and Davis' feud reached new heights at the Oscars when Davis was nominated for best actress for Baby Jane and Crawford was not. The story goes that Crawford then called the other nominated actresses and asked that if they could not attend, she accept the award in their place. And, Crawford did just that when Anne Bancroft won the award, but was unable to attend the ceremony. Crawford marched on stage and accepted the award in Bancroft's place. Obviously, this was not cool considering her co-star had just lost. Yikes. The women were quoted about this moment in interviews for pretty much the rest of their lives.
Ryan Murphy darling Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon will bring the feud to FX as Crawford and Davis, respectively. And, I can't wait to see these legendary actresses play legendary stars ... with major beef. And you know with Ryan Murphy at the helm, no punches will be pulled. Get to know Bette and Joan when Feud premieres on March 5.