“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” the campy, creepy tale from director Robert Aldrich of two aging sisters (one somewhat demented) in a crumbling Hollywood mansion, turns 50 years old this year — and, perhaps in celebration, it’s getting remade. Walter Hill (writer/director of “48 Hours” and the upcoming “Bullet to the Head,” among others) will write the screenplay, based on the original by Lukas Heller (which was itself based on a novel by Henry Farrell), and will direct.
But who would be cast? In the original, Bette Davis memorably played Baby Jane, with Joan Crawford as her fragile, vulnerable sister Blanche. Though both were past their prime leading-lady days, they were hardly elderly — Davis was 54 that year; Crawford was 57 — and the film revitalized both their careers (even earning Davis an Oscar nomination). So let’s think — what pair of contemporary actresses, of approximately that age, might spark in those roles? I love the idea of Meryl Streep (who’s a bit older, but what the hell) and Annette Bening — wouldn’t they just kill? — but can’t imagine they’d want to do it. So let’s think outside the box a little, hmm . . . Goldie Hawn and Debra Winger? Set it in the South and cast Holly Hunter and Sissy Spacek? Just for fun, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis? Who do you think?
And here’s a peek at the original, in celebration of 50 years. Back then, they really knew how to make trailers, didn’t they?