The first season of Ryan Murphy’s docudrama series Feud, released earlier this year, has triggered an uptick in interest in the sublimely dishy goings-on that led to Robert Aldrich’s overwrought 1962 melodrama (if that is even the word for it) Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, which featured two actresses widely known to despise each other, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. (Weirdly, I’ve copyedited bios of both women.) Ideally cast with Susan Sarandon as Davis and Jessica Lange as Crawford, the eight-episode narrative tackled one of Hollywood’s most curious releases, a pulpy embrace of camp, kitsch, and lurid material that seems miles ahead of its time.
In Italy, the movie, under the title Che fine ha fatto Baby Jane?, didn’t debut until the spring of 1963, but when it did Italian audiences were no doubt lured to purchase a ticket by this utterly fantastic atomic-age lobby art, done up in an eye-popping palette including a garish combination of hot pink, powder blue, and bright yellow. The irony, of course, is that none of these colors are to be found in the film itself, being that it was shot in black and white.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Terrifying bust of Bette Davis as the diabolical ‘Baby Jane Hudson’