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Friday, January 31, 2014

Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

In 1927 Louisiana, a married man (Bruce Dern) tells his lover Charlotte (Bette Davis) that he won't be running away with her. After his body is found hacked to death, it is assumed that she murdered him though she is never convicted. Jump to 37 years later and Charlotte is a crazy old spinster taken care of by her loyal housekeeper (Agnes Moorehead). But when her cousin (Olivia De Havilland) comes to stay with her, bizarre things start to happen. The follow up to the box office sleeper of 1962 WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? was intended to reunite the director Robert Aldrich with the two stars of BABY JANE, Davis and Joan Crawford. Rather than be upstaged by Davis once again, Crawford walked off the film and was replaced by De Havilland. In some ways, it's a better film than the 1962 success. While Davis dominated BABY JANE, here she has an equally strong co-star in De Havilland who gives an equally strong performance. There's also Agnes Moorehead in an Oscar nominated scene stealing role as the slovenly housekeeper. The length is excessive but it never feels padded out. It remains an excellent example of cinematic Grand Guignol. The effective score is by Frank De Vol. With Joseph Cotten, Mary Astor, Cecil Kellaway, George Kennedy, Victor Buono, William Campbell, Ellen Corby and Wesley Addy.

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