Retrofantasna Classic | Carolina Theatre | Special Events | Indy Week
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"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

Retrofantasna Classic 

When: Fri., Feb. 4, 7 p.m. 2011
Price: $8

If you like your Oscar winners nuttier than a fruitcake, Retrofantasma Classic has the double feature for you. First is Robert Aldrich's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, the 1962 comeback vehicle for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who were about as fond of each other off-screen as they were on-screen...which resulted in the two torturing each other mightily. But it made for great campy cinema with the two as a pair of aged, deglamorized former child stars living in an increasingly unhealthy household: You really don't want Davis to cook your dinner. The great character actor Victor Buono is the overweight fellow who attempts to exploit this situation, and Davis' daughter B.D. Merrill has a cameo (she later wrote about her mother in a book only slightly more flattering than Mommie Dearest). Creepy as hell and often just as funny, the film cemented the public's final image of both actresses, particularly for Davis in the gay community.

Jane is followed by another tale of a creepy house, with another actress popular in the gay community—Jodie Foster, in 1977's The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. Based on a novella/stage play, the film' theatrical roots show in its odd tale of a young girl whose father never seems to be home, who takes some nasty steps to fend off intruders, although Martin Sheen's creepy pervert definitely has it coming. Nearly as creepy is that the producers wanted the then-13-year-old Foster to do a nude scene; her older sister served as a body double, a favor she repeated for Taxi Driver. Foster was also upset by a scene involving the death of a hamster, and she ranks this among her least favorite projects. Still, it probably gave her some prep work for later dealing with Hannibal Lecter. Also of note: Mort Schulman, co-writer of such songs as "This Magic Moment" and "Viva Las Vegas," has a supporting role as one of the few sympathetic adults. A strange if compelling film with a strong performance by Foster, it'll make you think twice when someone offers you a cup of tea. —Zack Smith

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