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but you are blanche you are

I can’t believe I’ve waited 40 years to see “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”.

It’s such a bizarre film – the film that launch a thousand grand (dame) guignols – and yet it’s powerful.

Feuding sisters. Hollywood fame. Childhood jealousy. Psychological cruelty.

But the thing that shines out for me is the last scene. All the torture in the house has finished. Baby Jane has killed once – now she takes her emaciated, tortured, half-dead sister to the beach.

What a stroke of genius. There among the pretty young things of the 1960s surf set eating icecream, drinking pepsis – a Greek tragedy plays out its end game. I’m not sure which Greek tragedy but Joan Crawford certainly looks the part as she lies there all-but-dead on the sand.

It’s the images that stay with me rather than the plot denouement. The ash-grey face of Crawford on the beach – dehydrated, starved, black-eyed in the dawn. Like a corpse already.

And, of course, Davis running in the spray playing ball with startled children while handsome surf dudes run past. Snatching icecreams from a black icecream seller. Splashing in the sea.

And then that last image which reminds me of the end of La Dolce Vita (another bizarre gathering on the beach). The youth dance round the mad woman all in white while the two police man tend to her sister in black. It’s such pleasingly assymetric image.

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