All things Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were always interesting but especially after Feud: Bette and Joan got us all juiced for their rivalry. The behind the scenes making of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? interpreted by Ryan Murphy we’ve seen, but here’s where what we get on the show came from.
According to the book Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine, director Robert Aldrich said that four major movie studios declined to even consider the project or read the script due to the lead actors’ ages. Jack Warner of Warner Bros. rejected the film, famously saying,
“I wouldn’t give you one dime for those two washed-up old actors.“
Eventually, the indie production company Seven Arts would finance the film for just under a million dollars but on what owner Elliott Hyman called
“very tough terms, because it’s a high risk venture.“
(That was a very low budget, considering the following year that was Elizabeth Taylor‘s fee alone for Cleopatra.) Warner agreed to distribute the film after some initial resistance, but Baby Jane was not allowed to film on the studio’s own sound stages. Instead, it was shot at the Producers Studios lot, which is known today as Raleigh Studios in L.A.
Here are stills from the set, publicity photos with Jack Warner, Davis and Crawford with their younger selves in the film, as well as clips of footage of the two at work. According to Davis when interviewed on The Jack Parr Show, they shot the whole thing in 3 weeks. Hey, they don’t look like they hate each other THAT much. They were both professionals.