When Robert Aldrich was casting the lead roles for his 1964 film “Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” he naturally turned to the same two glamorous Hollywood stars who had made a hit of his 1962 film “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”
Yet, although Bette Davis and Joan Crawford had made a perfectly creepy team as sisters in “Baby Jane,” reportedly Crawford felt Davis had upstaged her and was none too excited about a reprise.
Film buffs will have the opportunity to decide for themselves how well Olivia de Havilland filled Crawford’s shoes when the Historic New Orleans Collection screens “Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte” on Saturday morning at the Williams Research Center, with introductory remarks by curator and historian John T. Magill.
“Hush … Hush” is the fourth in a monthly series of eight movies screened by the collection in conjunction with its ongoing exhibition “From Cameo to Close Up: Louisiana in Film.”
Loraine LoBianco, in an article for Turner Classic Movies, said the working title for the film had been “What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?” which was rejected by Davis as making the film sound like a sequel to “Baby Jane.”
“They had already composed a song for the film, and I liked it,” Davis is reported to have said. “It was sort of a lullaby that started off with ‘Hush, hush, sweet Charlotte,’ and I suggested that might be a better title.”
The Louisiana connection comes by way of the main location for the film, Houmas House Plantation in Burnside.
When Mary Astor, who had a cameo role in the film, described the locale, she said, “We worked at one of the magnificent decaying old pillared mansions with an avenue of moss-hung trees leading down to the levee.”
In the past 50 years since Astor saw Houmas House, it was rescued from decay and grandly restored.
In addition to Davis, de Havilland and Astor, the southern Gothic thriller starred Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Bruce Dern and George Kennedy. Moorehead earned an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actress, and the film was nominated in six categories: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White; Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; Best Costume Design, Black-and-White; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Original Song; and Best Original Music Score.
The film series continues Aug. 30 with “The Cincinnati Kid” (1965), starring Steve McQueen, Ann-Margret and Edward G. Robinson; Sept. 27 with “Blaze” (1989), starring Paul Newman, Lolita Davidovich, and Jerry Hardin; Oct. 25 with “Miller’s Crossing” (1990), starring Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney and John Turturro; and concludes Nov. 22 with “These Amazing Shadows” (2011), featuring John Waters, Tim Roth and Rob Reiner.
The related exhibition, “From Cameo to Close Up,” continues through Nov. 26.