According to numerous sources, author Henry Farrell succumbed to a long illness on Wednesday, March 29 in his Pacific Palisades home at age 85. Farrell, a novelist, screenwriter and author of several short stories, is best known for his novel WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, which was adapted into the classic 1962 feature film of the same name.
Directed by Robert Aldrich from a script by Lukas Heller, the film stars Bette Davis (as “Jane”) and Joan Crawford, and focuses on the macabre relationship between two sibling actresses who suffer—and dole out upon one another—physical and psychological torment in the isolated confines of their home. The film went on to receive five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress for star Davis. Warner Home Video honors the movie with a two-DVD special edition coming May 30, featuring a new anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer, commentary with author Charles Busch and film historian John Epperson and several featurettes on the movie and its stars (retail price: $26.99).
A film adaptation of Ferrell’s follow-up novel WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO COUSIN CHARLOTTE? was delivered by director Aldrich in 1964. Similar in tone to BABY JANE?, HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE was adapted for the screen this time by Ferrell himself, with assistance by Heller. It stars Davis again and Olivia de Havilland in a Southern Gothic Grand Guignol, replete with ax murders, a crumbling antebellum mansion and Ferrell’s stamp: the crumbling psyches of two females pitted against each other.
Ferrell’s other produced genre screenplays include the 1970s television films THE HOUSE THAT WOULD NOT DIE (starring Barbara Stanwyck as the inheritor of a centuries-old haunted abode), HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALAN (starring PSYCHO’s Anthony Perkins as a man tormented by either his father’s ghost and/or his sociopath sister in a Victorian mansion) and THE EYES OF CHARLES SAND (actor Peter Haskell receives visions from beyond the grave). The author is survived by a sister.