Fantastic news coming out of Comic Con: They are remaking What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?! It's such fun news that there is no way to properly punctuate the end of the sentence! Walter Hill, who just finished directing Sylvester Stallone in the cop drama Bullet to the Head, will direct and write the screenplay, because a movie about an abusive, deranged former child star torturing her crippled sister while both wither away in obscurity is clearly the next logical step in his career. Now that the news is out of the way, let's cast this thing! (And maybe look at more pictures of Bette Davis looking out of her blessèd mind!)
First, let's take a look back at the 1962 original that starred Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, two women who hated each other with the heat of one thousand suns, perhaps more. Crawford, who played the victimized sister Blanche Hudson, actually put rocks in her costume when Davis — the titular "Baby" Jane Hudson — was called upon to drag her body around their dilapidated house. That yanked Ms. Davis' back in all kinds of bad ways, but don't worry — she kicked Crawford in the face, causing a wound that needed stitches. This, plus the fighting that didn't involved physical violence, which director Robert Aldrich was helpless to stop.
The feuding didn't even stop with the end of production. When the Oscar nominees were announced for that year, Davis was nominated for Best Actress, Crawford was not. But Crawford took it upon herself to give all the other nominees who weren't Bette Davis, see if they were unable to attend the ceremony, and accept the award on their behalf. Anne Bancroft ended up winning, was, in fact, not in attendance, so Crawford gleefully barged past Davis to accept Bancroft's Oscar for The Miracle Worker.
Also worth mentioning: The daughters of both actresses wrote scathing books about their mothers. I can't imagine why, they seemed like such delightful women.
Oh, right — this movie actually existed outside of Davis and Crawford, despite their best efforts! Billed as a psychological thriller — because it's what the kids call "creepy as all fuck" — What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is the story of two fading sisters, one of whom was famous as a child (Jane), the other famous as an adult (Blanche). Jane is unable to recreate her fame as an adult, so she becomes a drunk instead. After a career-ending car accident that involved both sisters, Blanche ends up paralyzed and Jane gets stuck caring for her, which she only resents a little bit (because the rest of the time she is too drunk to actually care). By the time we meet the Hudson sisters, Jane has suddenly realized she has become an incredibly scary person and Blanche is being served dead animals for lunch (by Jane). After a few days of frightening abuse and the murder of innocents who might reveal said abuse, the police are tipped off that something might be going on in the Hudson house and Jane flees, bringing her sister with her to the beach. You know, because it's nice there. At the beach.
It will be interesting to see how they deal with technology in this remake (à la the Rear Window remake with Christopher Reeve), unless they make it a period piece and it's still set in the early '60s. Then again, it's not unheard of for, ahem, an older generation to be less apt to use all the technology we have today anyway, so all the same rules from the movie would probably apply.
So, who should act this thing out now that we're in 2012? Let's breeze past the obvious contenders like Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon as Blanche and Jane, respectively, and take a look at some less obvious possibilities.
Cloris Leachman (Blanche) and Betty White (Jane)
Come on, look at these batty dames! Might be a bit older than in the story, but I would kill to see these two go at it for two hours. It would, of course, end up as more of a parody of Baby Jane, but I can't say I'd be against that.
Helen Mirren (Blanche) and Joanna Lumley (Jane)
Why not go British, especially when it's these two? In fact, there might even be a real-life rivalry we can pull out of our asses if we try hard enough: Mirren has expressed an interest in playing the Doctor on Doctor Who — Lumley has sort of done that.
Jane Fonda (Blanche) and Faye Dunaway (Jane)
Seriously, what better way for Dunaway to spin off her own performance as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest than by playing the equally psychotic role played by her rival? And Fonda would be awesome, even though I think she'd probably kick Dunaway's ass in real life.
Kim Basinger (Blanche) and Annette Bening (Jane)
While Basinger isn't the most even-keeled actress in Hollywood, neither was Joan Crawford. And Annette Bening is a lot of fun when she's crazy. (See: American Beauty. "I will sell this house today!")
Angela Bassett (Blanche) and Viola Davis (Jane)
First, I think these two would be a hoot in Baby Jane. Second, allow me to point something out: Joan Crawford was 56 or 57 when she made that movie and Bette Davis was about 54. Viola Davis is 46 and Angela Bassett is 53. Yeah, just look at those withered old broads…
Sigourney Weaver (Blanche) and Linda Hamilton (Jane)
This sells itself.
Glenn Close (Blanche) and Sean Young (Jane)
I mean, come on. If we can make sure that Sean Young will not actually kill Glenn Close, this would be the best remake ever made.
Runners up: Melanie Griffith and Suzanne Somers (if it only gets as far as Lifetime), Tyler Perry and Martin Lawrence (in drag), Robin Williams and Eddie Izzard (the white version), Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff (wait, that was already a Robot Chicken sketch, and it was spoofing Highlander… I don't care, I'd pay to see it), Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nick Nolte (suggested by Eric Walkuski at Arrow in the Head).
And here are people I'd really like to watch sing "I've Written a Letter to Daddy": Arnold Schwarzenegger.