HUSH...HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE
Directed by Robert Aldrich (USA 1964; 93 mins. in English)
This past week marks the loss of a film legend from Hollywood’s golden era: Olivia de Havilland. Perhaps still most famous for her breakout role as the demure Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind or the charming Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood opposite Errol Flyn, de Havilland earned five Academy Award nominations during her career including two wins for more dimensional roles in The Heiress and To Each His Own. She also earned her stripes for suing Warner Bros. in 1946, paving the way for actors to have more autonomy over their artistic and financial relationships with studios (now known as the “de Havilland Law”).
In 1964, de Havilland starred opposite Bette Davis in Robert Aldrich’s psychological thriller Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Davis plays the aging southern belle Charlotte Hollis who has been sequestered in her family’s crumbling plantation house in Louisiana since her married lover was decapitated almost 40 years prior (a crime for which most people hold her accountable).
When the local government threatens to demolish her home for a new highway, she calls in her scheming cousin Miriam Deering (de Havilland) from New York City for help. But Miriam’s arrival brings about a spate of strange occurrences that seem to parallel Charlotte’s deteriorating sanity. The film, which Aldrich conceived after his wildly successful 1962 What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, was originally supposed to reunite Joan Crawford and Davis, but the infamous Crawford-Davis feud eventually left the role of Miriam open just after filming began - an eventually lucky hiccup as it was resolved with the recruitment of ever-magnetic de Havilland.
The film can be seen on Amazon Prime