The working-class twin sister of a callous, wealthy woman impulsively murders her out of revenge and assumes her identity. But impersonating her dead twin is more complicated and risky than she anticipated.
Popular and beautiful Fanny Trellis is forced into a loveless marriage with an older man, Jewish banker Job Skeffington, in order to save her beloved brother Trippy from an embezzlement charge, and predictable complications result.
Aged, wealthy Charlotte Hollis has lived as a recluse in the crumbling family plantation mansion in Hollisport, Louisiana since her father Sam Hollis' death thirty-six years ago. The only people who regularly see her are her hard-as-nails but seemingly loyal housekeeper, Velma Crowther, and her longtime friend and physician, Dr. Drew Bayliss. She has lived there most of her life except for a short stint in London thirty-seven years ago following the vicious murder of her married lover, John Mayhew, at the plantation's summer house while Sam was hosting one of his legendary grand balls in the mansion. She and John had planned to run off together that night, but instead he was bludgeoned to death, his head and right hand severed from his body. Nobody was ever convicted for his murder, but most people believe Charlotte did it after John changed his mind about running off with her. They also believe that Charlotte, whom they haven't seen in years, is a crazy old woman. Conversely, ...Written by
On Wednesday, July 29, 1964, Joan Crawford worked until 1:30 p.m. Crawford then informed Robert Aldrich that she had overtaxed herself the previous day, and would have to return to a less strenuous shooting schedule. Aldrich informed her that he wanted her examined by the company's insurance doctor. Resenting his suspicions and harassment, Joan returned to her dressing room and made it clear she would no longer talk directly to the director. "The only way they communicated was through me", said Crawford's make-up man, Monty Westmore. "Joan would tell me something, then I'd go and tell Aldrich. He would give me a reply to take back to Joan. It was an unpleasant, awkward position for me to be in." See more »
In the early scene where Charlotte confronts the work crew, in the long shot she says "I told you to get off my property" but we can see that here mouth isn't moving. See more »
Dr. Drew Bayliss:
People who are obliged to live alone have a habit of creatin' company for themselves. Innocent fancies can become fixed delusions. I think she never fully accepted John Mayhew's death. At least, part of her mind hasn't. Sometimes she speaks of him as if he were still alive here in this house... as if she could still feel his personality. She plays that old harpsichord, the song he wrote for her. Often at night, she sits up dressed as if she were still young and expectin' a beau.
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John Mayhew (Bruce Dern), a married man, is having an affair with Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis). When Charlotte's father, Sam (Victor Buono), a local bigwig (the town is even named after the family) finds out that John was planning on eloping with Charlotte, he demands that John tells Charlotte during a big party that he's breaking off their relationship. John ends up dead, and Charlotte is the likely suspect. Thirty-seven years later, Charlotte is still living as a recluse on her family's plantation, but now she is being forced to move, as a highway is going to be built across her property. Gradually, people come back into her life to ostensibly help her.
For at least the first 45 minutes to an hour or so into the film, Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a 10 out of 10. Unfortunately, given a 133-minute running time, director Robert Aldrich can't sustain the intensity for the length of the film, but Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte finishes as an 8 out of 10 for me.
Although there are some thriller and horror elements, both take up relatively little screen time. At that though, these elements are extremely effective. Some parts are surprisingly graphic for 1964--just enough to be a surprise and evoke the appropriate sense of shock. The best horror/thriller material in the film is in the haunted house vein, and for a time, we wonder if Hush . . . Hush, Sweet Charlotte is going to end up being a ghost story.
But the focus here is primarily on Charlotte and Miriam Deering (Olivia de Havilland) and their relationship to one another. Davis and de Havilland are both incredible in the film, and both go through a very wide range of emotions. Oddly, Agnes Moorehead (as Velma Cruther) was more recognized for her performance than the rest of the cast in terms of awards and nominations, with de Havilland receiving neither. Not that Moorehead wasn't good, but in my view, she wasn't the standout performance. However, that's just further fuel for my belief that the Academy Awards have little to do with rewarding the best films, actors and filmmakers.
There are also broader themes explored as a subtext, including the changing way of life in the southern United States between the early and mid-20th Century.
I subtracted two points because the film lost a bit of its momentum and direction in the middle, but the last half-hour is as exciting as the beginning.
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