Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964)

Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964)

Produced and directed by Robert Aldrich and written by Henry Farrell who had help with his original story’s screenplay from Lukas Heller this above average horror-thriller drama features Bette Davis in the title role of Charlotte Hollis who like real life’s Lizzie Borden was suspected of killing (indeed beheading) someone in this case her fiancé with an ax such that the local children still sing a folk song about the years ago episode. Now an eccentric sheltered spinster suffering from dementia in her waning years that’s cared for by her longtime loyal housekeeper Velma Cruther (Agnes Moorehead) Charlotte fires shots at the highway construction crew’s foreman (George Kennedy) as they get closer to her childhood home where she still resides; she refuses to accept the fact that it’s being torn down for the right of way. To help her in this fight she’s called her cousin Miriam Deering (Olivia de Havilland) who in turn calls in their (still local) longtime family doctor Drew Bayliss (Joseph Cotten) to return to the plantation home of their youth. Another man named Harry Willis (Cecil Kellaway) a stranger in town becomes involved in the conflict. Through his efforts and curiosity many truths about the murder and the past including about Charlotte’s father Samuel Eugene ‘Big Sam’ Hollis (Victor Buono) and her former rival & now Mrs. Jewel Mayhew (Mary Astor in her last film) are revealed. Bruce Dern who plays John Mayhew Frank Ferguson who plays newspaper editor Walter Blake Percy Helton who plays a funeral director and Ellen Corby are among those who also appear.

Moorehead received the last of her four unrewarded Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominations (the year this film was released she has begun playing Endora in TV’s Bewitched series an eight year stint for which she is unfortunately best known today). The film’s B&W Art Direction-Set Decoration Cinematography and Costume Design (by Norma Koch What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)) were nominated. Additionally its Editing (Michael Luciano’s first of his four unrewarded Oscar nominations) title Song and Substantially Original (Frank De Vol) Score received Oscar nominations.

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