Facebook Twitter

The silver screen’s sinister sisters In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA July 23, 2010

selena_gomez_in_ramona_and_beezus-wideThe old song lyric “Two different faces, but in tight places, we think and we act as one” pretty much sums up the bond often shared by sisters. No matter how close the connection—or how many sterling silver “sisters are a forever friend” catch bangle message bracelets are exchanged—there is bound to be some tension between sibs from time to time. Even the tagline for this weekend’s kid comedy Ramona and Beezus—“A little sister goes a long way”—suggests some good natured conflict between the girls. Here’s a look at other kinds of cinematic sibling rivalry.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?: If sisters are blossoms in the garden of life as one poet said, then Jane Hudson must be a poison ivy plant. Played to great creepy effect by Bette Davis—wearing an inch of thick pasty make-up—Jane was ranked #44 on the AFI’s 50 Best Villains list. As she descends into madness she keeps her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford) captive and even tries to make her eat her pet parakeet for lunch. The movie is great campy fun—one critic at the time wrote, “it sometimes looks like a poisonous senior citizen show with over-the-top spoiled ham”—but the behind-the-scenes stories are almost as psychotic as anything on screen. The aging divas couldn’t stand one another and fought constantly. Davis “accidentally” kicked Crawford in the head, requiring stitches and Crawford weighted down her clothes for the scene where Jane has to drag Blanche causing Davis to suffer a muscular backache. In 1991 the movie was remade with real life sisters Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave in the lead roles.

Sisters: Where would sister movies be without “the evil twin”? Sisters, Brian De Palma’s ode to deviant sororal behavior may well be the Citizen Kane of the genre. On one hand we have Danielle (Margot Kidder), a French/Canadian model and one half of a set of Siamese twins. Then there’s the murderously mad Dominique (also Kidder), who fools her prey into thinking she is the demure Danielle before… well, going murderously mad on them. Unlike Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, the low budget Sisters failed to garner any Academy Award nominations, but it did earn Kidder one of the most florid lines of film criticism ever. “Margot Kidder has a demon-slut’s curly lips,” wrote The New Yorker, “and knows how to turn on the sexiness with a witch’s precision.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.