Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

134 mins | Horror | 16 December 1964

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HISTORY

Nearly a year after the successful onscreen pairing of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in Warner Bros.’ What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, see entry), the 28 Aug 1963 Var announced that producer-director Robert Aldrich’s next project would be a follow-up film titled, What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte? Although the title suggested a sequel, Crawford and Davis had signed on to play new characters from an original script written by What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? novelist Henry Farrell. On 12 Mar 1964, DV reported that the title had been changed to Hush…Hush…Sweet Charlotte.
       According to a 31 Oct 1964 LAT article, Aldrich planned to begin filming 1 Apr 1964, but agreed to a delay while Crawford traveled to Hawaii for a sales meeting on behalf of the Pepsi-Cola Company, for which she served on the board of directors. During this time, Farrell left the project, forcing Aldrich to travel to England to enlist the help of Lukas Heller, who had previously adapted What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? for the screen. Rewrites once again stalled production, which finally began on 1 Jun 1964 near Baton Rouge, LA. The 29 May 1964 DV stated that Crawford, Davis, and supporting players Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead were among the seventy-person crew that traveled to Louisiana for location shooting.
       The company returned to the Twentieth Century-Fox studio lot in Los Angeles, CA, by mid-Jun, when the 15 Jun 1964 DV reported that Paramount Pictures had filed an injunction against Davis continuing any work until she shot an alternate ... More Less

Nearly a year after the successful onscreen pairing of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in Warner Bros.’ What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962, see entry), the 28 Aug 1963 Var announced that producer-director Robert Aldrich’s next project would be a follow-up film titled, What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte? Although the title suggested a sequel, Crawford and Davis had signed on to play new characters from an original script written by What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? novelist Henry Farrell. On 12 Mar 1964, DV reported that the title had been changed to Hush…Hush…Sweet Charlotte.
       According to a 31 Oct 1964 LAT article, Aldrich planned to begin filming 1 Apr 1964, but agreed to a delay while Crawford traveled to Hawaii for a sales meeting on behalf of the Pepsi-Cola Company, for which she served on the board of directors. During this time, Farrell left the project, forcing Aldrich to travel to England to enlist the help of Lukas Heller, who had previously adapted What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? for the screen. Rewrites once again stalled production, which finally began on 1 Jun 1964 near Baton Rouge, LA. The 29 May 1964 DV stated that Crawford, Davis, and supporting players Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead were among the seventy-person crew that traveled to Louisiana for location shooting.
       The company returned to the Twentieth Century-Fox studio lot in Los Angeles, CA, by mid-Jun, when the 15 Jun 1964 DV reported that Paramount Pictures had filed an injunction against Davis continuing any work until she shot an alternate ending for Where Love Has Gone (1964, see entry). A Var article published two days later asserted that Fox stood to lose $500,000 if the re-shoots interfered with her role in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. At this time, Davis had already been paid $25,000 of her purported $200,000 salary. On 24 Jun 1964, Var stated that a district court of appeals had granted the actress a temporary stay, permitting her to keep working. According to a 5 Aug 1964 Var article, Davis never fulfilled her obligation to Paramount, leaving executives to release Where Love Has Gone in its original form.
       Meanwhile, Joan Crawford spent the remainder of the summer repeatedly hospitalized with a case of viral pneumonia. With only sixty pages of the script left to shoot, Aldrich shut down production for several weeks in hope her condition would improve. Once she was released, the director attempted to continue working with Crawford on a limited schedule, sometimes as little as two hours a day. A second relapse in late Jul prompted another six-week break, at which point Aldrich traveled to Paris, France, to engage Olivia de Havilland as Crawford’s replacement. A 26 Aug 1964 LAT article suggested that Crawford was unaware of the director’s intentions, and “cried for nine straight hours” after hearing the announcement from reporters at the hospital.
       The 3 Sep 1964 DV noted that the prolonged production affected many upcoming projects of the cast and crew, such as Agnes Moorehead, who was forced to relinquish a role in The Loved One (1965, see entry) to re-film eight to nine days worth of scenes with Olivia de Havilland. Although the crew intended to return to Louisiana, an 11 Sep 1964 DV item reported that Aldrich decided to remain in Hollywood, citing the possibility of poor weather, scheduling conflicts, and increased tourism in the Baton Rouge area amid preparations for a hotly anticipated college football game. The 16 Sep 1964 Var indicated that filming resumed on 1 Sep 1964. Although a 20 Oct 1922 DV item stated that re-shoots were expected to conclude a few days later, de Havilland herself fell ill with a cold, and the 31 Oct 1964 LAT suggested that her final scene had not yet been completed. In total, the original thirty-two-day shooting schedule had been extended to fifty-nine working days spread over five months, while the $1.3 million budget had ballooned to $2.1 million. A 20 Nov 1964 DV brief noted that Aldrich hoped to recoup a portion of the losses by collecting on the production’s $693,000 policy with Firemen’s Fund Insurance.
       Despite the difficulties, a rough cut of the picture was warmly received by Fox executives, who decided to double the film’s advertising campaign and bump up the national release from spring to Jan 1965. A limited engagement began 16 Dec 1964 at the Westwood Village Theater to qualify for Academy Award consideration. According to the 3 Dec 1964 DV, Aldrich was hospitalized for exhaustion while frantically attempting to finish post-production in time for the deadline.
       Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte was a critical success, and earned seven Academy Award nominations for Actress in a Supporting Role (Agnes Moorehead), Art Direction (Black-and-White), Cinematography (Black-and-White), Costume Design (Black-and-White), Film Editing, Music (Music Score—substantially original), and Music (Song). Although Bette Davis sang “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte” on the original soundtrack album, Patti Page performed the title theme at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Her rendition popularized the song, which eventually climbed to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
       The U.S. Copyright record lists a running time of 130 minutes. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Mar 1964
p. 6.
Daily Variety
29 May 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1964
p. 16.
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1964
p. 8.
Daily Variety
20 Nov 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1964
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
26 Aug 1964
p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
31 Oct 1964
Section B, p. 9.
Variety
28 Aug 1963
p. 20.
Variety
17 Jun 1964
p. 5.
Variety
24 Jun 1964
p. 17.
Variety
29 Jul 1964
p. 5.
Variety
5 Aug 1964
p. 24.
Variety
16 Sep 1964
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mix
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Scr supv
Prop master
Const coord
Dial supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Hush Now, Sweet Charlotte" by Henry Farrell (publication undetermined).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte," words and music by Mack David and Frank De Vol.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?
Hush…Hush…Sweet Charlotte
Release Date:
16 December 1964
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 16 December 1964
National release: January 1965
Production Date:
1 June--early November 1964
Copyright Claimant:
Associates & Aldrich Co.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1964
Copyright Number:
LP29684
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
134
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When the Louisiana Highway Commission decides to build a road through her property, Charlotte Hollis threatens the workmen with a shotgun. Thirty-seven years earlier Charlotte's married lover, John Mayhew, was murdered; and though the killer was never discovered, the local townspeople are convinced of Charlotte's guilt. Charlotte herself, believing that her father killed Mayhew, became a recluse, living with her housekeeper, Velma, in the deteriorating Hollis mansion. Now she seeks help in her fight against the Highway Commission from Miriam, a poor cousin who lived with the family as a girl. Upon returning, Miriam renews her relationship with Drew Bayliss, the local doctor who jilted her after the murder. The eccentric Charlotte becomes progressively wilder with Miriam's arrival--her nights haunted by mysterious piano playing of the song Mayhew wrote for her and by the appearance of Mayhew's disembodied hand and head. Velma, realizing that Miriam and Drew are trying to drive Charlotte completely mad in order to get her money, seeks help from Mr. Willis, a Lloyd's of London insurance investigator who is still interested in the Mayhew case and who has visited Mayhew's ailing widow, Jewel; but Miriam kills Velma when the housekeeper tries to remove Charlotte from the mansion for safety. Miriam and Drew trick Charlotte into shooting Drew with a gun loaded with blanks, and Miriam helps Charlotte dispose of the body in a swamp. Drew's reappearance later reduces Charlotte to whimpering insanity. Believing Charlotte completely mad and secure in her room, Miriam and Drew go into the garden to discuss what they have done. As Miriam embraces Drew, she looks up to see Charlotte, who has overheard them, push a huge stone urn from the ... +


When the Louisiana Highway Commission decides to build a road through her property, Charlotte Hollis threatens the workmen with a shotgun. Thirty-seven years earlier Charlotte's married lover, John Mayhew, was murdered; and though the killer was never discovered, the local townspeople are convinced of Charlotte's guilt. Charlotte herself, believing that her father killed Mayhew, became a recluse, living with her housekeeper, Velma, in the deteriorating Hollis mansion. Now she seeks help in her fight against the Highway Commission from Miriam, a poor cousin who lived with the family as a girl. Upon returning, Miriam renews her relationship with Drew Bayliss, the local doctor who jilted her after the murder. The eccentric Charlotte becomes progressively wilder with Miriam's arrival--her nights haunted by mysterious piano playing of the song Mayhew wrote for her and by the appearance of Mayhew's disembodied hand and head. Velma, realizing that Miriam and Drew are trying to drive Charlotte completely mad in order to get her money, seeks help from Mr. Willis, a Lloyd's of London insurance investigator who is still interested in the Mayhew case and who has visited Mayhew's ailing widow, Jewel; but Miriam kills Velma when the housekeeper tries to remove Charlotte from the mansion for safety. Miriam and Drew trick Charlotte into shooting Drew with a gun loaded with blanks, and Miriam helps Charlotte dispose of the body in a swamp. Drew's reappearance later reduces Charlotte to whimpering insanity. Believing Charlotte completely mad and secure in her room, Miriam and Drew go into the garden to discuss what they have done. As Miriam embraces Drew, she looks up to see Charlotte, who has overheard them, push a huge stone urn from the balcony above, crushing them to death. Later, as Charlotte is taken away by the authorities, Willis hands her an envelope from the now-dead Jewel Mayhew; it contains Jewel's confession of the murder of her husband. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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