Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

Article #1190 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-17-2004
Posting Date: 11-14-2004
Directed by Robert Aldrich
Featuring Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten

Decades after a brutal axe murder was committed, the woman commonly believed to be guilty of the murder (the case was never solved) calls in her cousin to help prevent the demolition of the southern manor of her father. She then starts to have horrific visions tied to the old murder.

I’m tempted to describe this movie as overlong, since it runs two hours and thirteen minutes. However, I have to admit that it holds my attention throughout. The story itself is quite complex; and there are many questions to ask along the way; who killed John Mayhew? Is Charlotte actually going crazy, or is someone trying to drive her insane, and if so, who? Who sends the nasty letters to Charlotte? This follow-up to WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? was supposed to reunite Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, but Crawford ended up being replaced by Olivia de Havilland, much to Davis’ delight at not having to work with her old rival. Davis does a fine job in a role that is somewhat similar to her role in BABY JANE, but the similarities are really only on the surface. De Havilland also does fine work, as do Joseph Cotten, Victor Buono, Cecil Kellaway, Mary Astor, Bruce Dern and William Campbell. However, they’re all upstaged by the hilarious and truly memorable performance given by Agnes Moorehead; as Charlotte’s sassy, sarcastic maid, she steals every scene she’s in with an almost wicked glee. The opening murder, by the way, may be one of the most graphic depicted in a major Hollywood movie up to that point.


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