“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” was on television last night. This is the first Bette Davis I knew — Baby Jane Hudson, the evil/good twins in a film I want to say was called Dead Ringer, the haunted alcoholic in Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. These films seemed to play a lot on the Sunday afternoon movie shows in Baltimore, one of which was known as Picture for a Sunday Afternoon. Was there anything better, in a world of just three channels and endless sporting events, then finding out that the Picture for a Sunday Afternoon was something really good. (Like a women-in-prison film, which were my personal favorites.)
Now, my family had photo albums, so of course I was aware that people all around me had changed over the years, including myself. (Overfed as a child, seldom wearing more than diaper in the Atlanta heat, I had such fat cheeks that my eyes appeared to have an Asian cast. In other words, I looked like a tiny sumo wrestler.) But I still remember my profound awe at seeing a photograph of Davis as Jezebel and realizing what a great natural beauty she was.
And then, finally, I found All About Eve. “You’re much too short for that gesture!” I’ve always wanted to find a way to work that into a conversation.