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  1. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" is one of "those" movies that I never saw because I'm the youngest child - I've seen small clips of the film, and heard it mentioned enough when I was young, to the point where I honestly thought that I had seen it, but I hadn't, and I had, and I hadn't. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" received five Academy Award nominations, with Norma Koch winning the award for "Best Costume Design - Black and White." This was Produced and Directed by Robert Aldrich, and is a classic tale of sibling rivalry (that's something of an understatement) between Jane and Blanche Hudson (Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, respectively). This movie is made more diabolically delicious by the fact that Joan Crawford and Bette Davis actually hated each other in real life. And isn't it ironic that this most legendary of cat fights was caused by a dog? Of note is an important role played by Maidie Norman as the family's maid, Elvira. Norman, a woman of color, was often reduced to playing roles as domestic servants, but she refused to play them subserviently: "In the beginning, I made a pledge that I would play no role that deprived black women of their dignity," she said. About the role of Elvira, on Wikipedia: "Norman recalled that the character was originally written as a 'doltish, yessum character.' She rewrote the dialogue which she called 'old slavery-time talk' in an effort to dignify the character." Compare the role of Elvira to that of Mammy played by Hattie McDaniel in "Gone with the Wind" - as lovable and funny as Mammy was, she was only one small step away from being a House Slave (in fact, she *was* a House Slave), and the dialog - and the attitude - in these two roles, written only 23-years apart, could not be more different. If you're going to remember a third person from "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" why not make it Maidie Norman? (It's easy to remember "Maidie," since she always portrayed maids - and then there was the Norman conquest.) In one very subtle, inconspicuous scene, Jane (Bette Davis) - who had previously shown abusive behavior towards Elvira - was in the early stages of keeping people out of the house at all costs. Jane gave Elvira "the day off with pay," to which Elvira replied: "See you next Tuesday ..." - think about that one for a moment ... #CUNx Look at these two screen-shots, captured less than 1/2 second apart from each other: Remember Denzel Washington's "Ultimate Eat Shit and Die Glare," while he was being whipped, in "Glory?" Or Sidney Poitier's "Slap Heard 'Round the World" during "In the Heat of the Night?" Neither of these scenes exist without Maidie Norman. Sidney Poitier was born in 1927, and I fervently hope this somehow reaches him - I believe Poitier would be the first to agree, and that he could add many more examples: The importance of his wisdom and experience cannot be measured. My only regret is that Maidie Norman will never have a chance to see this. Incidentally, the actor receiving third billing, Victor Buono, made his debut in this film, and went on to play the villain King Tut on "Batman." Great, ingenious film - every bit as Hitchcockian as "Charade," with twice the horror: I thought I had it all figured out ... just like they wanted me to think, but I hadn't, and I had, and I hadn't ....
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