A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real positive messages.
Positive Role Models
No real positive role models.
Violence & Scariness
A disabled woman is tied up in bed with her mouth taped shut by her psychotic sister. Her sister no longer feeds her and brings her very close to death. This sister is believed to have paralyzed the woman by hitting her with her car while driving drunk. While not shown, a maid is killed by being struck with a hammer. This vicious and unstable sister also kills her sister's pet bird and serves it across her lunch; she later does the same thing, only with a dead rat.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Innuendo from two movie executives concerning sexual indiscretions that have gotten one of their actresses a great deal of negative publicity.
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One of the characters mouths the word "bitch." "Crap." "Damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Everyone smokes cigarettes. An alcoholic woman is shown frequently drunk, filling up her glass, slurring her speech, stumbling and lurching as she walks or looks at pictures of herself when she was younger and famous. A middle-aged man is extremely drunk, stumbling around on city streets while slurring his speech.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a classic 1962 Oscar-winning psychological horror film. While lacking the blood and gore of contemporary horror films, there are enough scary images -- dead rats and dead birds served for lunch, every shriek and cackle leaving Bette Davis's mouth, for instance -- to bring nightmares to younger and more sensitive viewers. A woman is struck by a car driven by a drunk driver and left paralyzed from the waist down. One of the lead characters is consistently drunk, slurring her speech, stumbling and lurching around, and in another scene, a middle-aged man is picked up by the police, extremely drunk. Since it's a movie from the early 1960s, everyone smokes cigarettes. Innuendo is made of a woman's sexual indiscretions by two male studio executives. Profanity implied in some scenes, including a scene where a character mouths the word "bitch." Overall, this classic movie has stood the test of time in no small part to the incredible performances of on and off-screen rivals Davis and Joan Crawford, roles that revitalized their sagging late-period careers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This classic film is one of the greatest psychological horror movies ever made. This isn't due to the blood, gore, human centipedes, zombies, and serial killers that dominate contemporary horror, but to the sadistic zeal Bette Davis brings to her role as a washed-up and alcoholic former child star whose descent into madness and delusion leads her to commit acts of incredible psychological cruelty on her sister, played by on and off-screen rival Joan Crawford, who more than holds her own as the paralyzed sister and tortured victim of Davis's cruelty. As "Baby Jane," Davis's actions, voice, and demeanor create a visceral reaction in the viewer. The anger at Baby Jane is palpable as Blanche's horrors grow worse with each subsequent scene of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. The action ratchets higher and higher until anyone with a heart wants nothing more but for Blanche to survive and for Jane to get caught.
These kinds of visceral reactions are hard to come by, and arguably one of the main reasons we watch movies, and horror movies in particular. This is due to the story itself and the acting, and in marked contrast to all the sadistic splatter and excessive audio/visual effects of most modern-day horror films, the former's substance outscares the latter's style every time.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.