Unlike the Jean Simmons and Rosalind Russell Blogathon, I was familiar with who Olivia de Havilland was, as an actress, before I signed up for The Fourth Annual Olivia de Havilland Blogathon. Gone with the Wind and The Snake Pit are the only two films of Olivia’s that I’d seen prior to my blogathon participation. I wanted to watch a film within this actress’s filmography that I haven’t seen before. When I found out that Olivia had starred in the film, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, I decided to choose this movie for this review. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a film that I had heard of before. It’s usually put in the same category as a film like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, where mystery and suspicion are the common themes within the narrative. I was fortunate to have seen this movie knowing very little about the story. The lack of spoilers helped my movie-viewing experience be as entertaining as possible. Now, let’s figure out what my thoughts are on Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte!
Things I liked about the film:
- The acting: I was a fan of the acting performances in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte! The only other film of Bette Davis’ that I’ve seen is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. But even after watching that film and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, I think that Bette excels at portraying characters that are unsettling and over-the-top. Olivia de Havilland’s portrayal of Miriam Deering was very cool and collected. This helped balance out the differences between Bette and Olivia’s performances! I was also pleasantly surprised by Agnes Moorehead’s performance as Velma Cruther! She made her character so memorable, that her performance still stands out in my mind long after I saw the film.
- The cinematography: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte had some really good cinematography! The way some of these scenes are presented made the movie look visually appealing. How the lighting was used in this film was something that caught my attention. For example, during an evening meal, when Charlotte was talking about her father, a portrait of him is shown with the use of a bright light. Certain camera angles made some scenes have a unique look to them. One example is when Charlotte is walking up the stairs. This scene was presented as if the audience was looking down on the set of stairs.
- Some unexpected surprises: As I mentioned in the introduction, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a story that has a good amount of mystery and suspicion. With this comes some unexpected surprises. I will not be spoiling any of these surprises in this review, especially since some of my readers and followers may not have seen this film yet. But what I will say is that these surprises were very shocking, leaving me completely caught off guard! The surprises kept this story interesting, helping me to stay invested in the overall narrative.
What I didn’t like about the film:
- An unnecessary amount of violence: When I was watching this film, I noticed some violence that, in my opinion, didn’t need to be there. For example, early on in the movie, John Mayhew, Charlotte’s love interest, gets his hand chopped off. This act is explicitly featured in the movie. While this was a shocking moment, I don’t think this needed to be shown in the film. If a shadow of the knife falling were seen or if John’s scream were heard in the distance, it would have created the same effect of shocking the audience.
- The run-time: Two hours and 13 minutes is the official run-time for Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Because of this, there were moments that were drawn out a little longer than they should have. One example is this is when Charlotte and Harry Willis meet for the first time. Personally, I think that the film’s run time is a bit too long. Having the movie run at under two hours would have worked better for the narrative. This way, the audience could stay invested in the story without having to feel bored at any moment of the film.
- The amount of shocking/surprising moments: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte does have some shocking/surprising moments. However, most of these moments take place within the film’s climax, toward the end of the film. I understand that the narrative is building up to that climatic moment. But, prior to the climax, these shocking/surprising moments are used sparingly. This creative choice caused me to feel that this story was not as mysterious or suspenseful as I had thought it would be. The ratio between shocking/surprising moments and scenes without them were uneven.
My overall impression:
Though this movie had its flaws, I still found Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte to be a good film! It’s one of those movies that gets better as you keep watching, developing into a story that is truly shocking and intriguing. The only movie I can compare this to is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, as the structure of each narrative is very similar. After comparing these two films, I would choose Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as the better of the two. It had more interesting components and I found myself being more invested in this particular story. I would definitely recommend giving this film a watch! But, if you choose to watch this film, please avoid spoilers, as it will make your movie-viewing experience that much better.
Overall score: 7.7 out of 10
Have you seen any of Olivia de Havilland’s film? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!