Tag Archives: bette davis

Link Dump: #93

Aww, it’s Bette Davis with a kitty! And now some long-overdue links!

Some very vaginal search terms lately! For example, “charging vagina images” and “god+told+me+to+show+my+pussy” and of course, “young pussy very weary.”

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Filed under Cinema, Feminism, Media

Who’s Afraid of Baby Jane?

Happy Halloween, everybody! You can start celebrating this scariest/best of all holidays by reading my piece over at The Film Experience about Bette Davis’s riveting performance in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. It’s towering, terrifying work by a legendary actress, the kind of performance that really separates the girls from the women. Nobody else could have done quite what Bette does with the part.

Sorry we’ve been AWOL here at PGG for much of this all-important week—Halloween parties, part-time jobs, and nasty colds will do that to you—but now we’re back to help celebrate. The foulest stench is in the air! The funk of 40,000 years! Happy Halloween!

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Filed under Cinema, Meta

It’s my party…

Today marks the 21st anniversary of my birth, and what better way to celebrate than with the gift that keeps on giving, cinephilia? I could’ve used images of drinking in film (you know, 21), but that seemed a little too easy, so I went with cinematic birthday parties instead. By sheer coincidence, all of these birthdays involve encounters with serial killers or life-changing traumas. (Witness above, the garish cake baked for Helen [Anna Massey] in Peeping Tom, just before she introduces herself to the psychotic Mark Lewis.) Hopefully mine involves neither!

Andy’s mom wants to surprise him with the (ironically named) Good Guy doll he so sorely desires. Unfortunately, said doll is also possessed by the spirit of Evil Brad Dourif. So Andy’s the target of a unrepentant murderer’s voodoo curse, but he also gets an awesome, self-activated talking doll. Some good, some bad… let’s call this birthday a wash. (Besides, he could’ve been attacked by the doll in Chester Novell Turner’s Black Devil Doll from Hell, so in that respect he’s lucky.)

Bette Davis’s Margo Channing is having a rough night, as the festivities for her boyfriend’s birthday turn into an occasion for jealousy and betrayal. She knows Eve’s a sneaky little bitch who’s trying to steal her friends and lifestyle, but nobody believes her. Thankfully for Margo, though, she gets one of cinema’s all-time great lines as she exits the scene: “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” One of this scene’s lessons is that you should never let your birthday party degenerate into a melee of brilliant, biting dialogue, back-stabbing, and suspicions. For that matter, just don’t invite Eve.

Finally, don’t vomit an oily black substance onto your cake. It’s just impolite to the guests. Wikus van de Merwe’s friends and family went to all the trouble of preparing this surprise party midway into District 9, and he just spoils it by getting all sick and starting to turn into a weird human/prawn hybrid. Look at this how lavish this party is, too! And he just spends the whole time wandering around, ears ringing, intermittently pausing to retch. Oh, poor Wikus. Your birthday may be ruined, but at least you’ll become the savior to a cat food-loving alien race stranded in South Africa! (Huh, District 9 sure was a weird movie, wasn’t it?)

There you have it: four birthdays that didn’t go so well. Let’s hope I can learn from their examples by 1) not befriending any serial killers, 2) not receiving any serial killers as gifts, 3) not engendering paranoia and tension in my significant other, and 4) not getting infected with an extraterrestrial disease. If I can manage that, this should be a very, very good day.

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Filed under Cinema, Personal

“Don’t worry, Miss Blanche…”

For me, this the most disturbing, grotesque, and all-around creepy scene in Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). It’s a terrifying movie about Baby Jane Hudson (Bette Davis), once a famous child star, who is now old, alcoholic, and “caring” for her disabled sister Blanche (Joan Crawford). She’s also delusional and sadistic, hiding dead rats and canaries in Blanche’s serving tray, cutting off Blanche’s contact with the outside world, and planning an unlikely comeback with her only friend, a pianist (Victor Buono) who lives with his mother. Imagine Sunset Blvd.‘s Norma Desmond with an even more tenuous grip on reality, and you’ve got Baby Jane.

Late in the film, Jane decides that Blanche has been a little too uncooperative, so she takes desperate measures. This results in the gruesome image you see above. The sight of Blanche, who’s already unable to walk, having her hands tied above her and a piece of tape over her mouth, is almost too much to bear. It looks like something out of a medieval dungeon, but here it’s on the second floor of a nice house in 1960s Los Angeles. The image and context could hardly be more incongruous, especially since that’s the bruised and contorted face of Crawford, one of 1930s and ’40s Hollywood’s most iconic starlets. When you add in the fact that she’s just about to see her kindly maid – and only possibly means of escape – murdered by her psychotic sister… wow. This scene gets me every time.

(Davis, by the way, is out of control and over the top, scarier than just about any fanged or clawed movie monster. She’s got that off-putting twinkle in her eye and that twang of childlike innocence in her voice. She’s also the villain who launched a thousand drag queens. I’ve written a letter to Da-ddy…)

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Filed under Cinema