Here’s something I didn’t notice until it was pointed out to me.
Two of my favourite films are SUNSET BOULEVARD (from 1950) and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE (from 1962). As a fan of thrillers about film stars (ahem, see banner picture above) I have watched each of them dozens of times and know them both intimately.
(And yes, I know that WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE was also a book published in 1958, I have it on my Kindle, but shamefully have never read it)
Now here’s the thing, despite having seen both films many, many times, it had to be pointed out to me that part of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE’s plot is lifted directly from SUNSET BOULEVARD.
Both stories feature delusional ladies of a certain age, who become involved with men who portray themselves as more firmly rooted in the entertainment industry than they actually are. These ladies start collaborating with the man, while also being smitten with him, and the man ends up betraying them.
It’s actually, when you take a step back and stare at it, quite blatant. Yet because it’s done so well, most people never notice.
After all, when one generally thinks of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, it isn’t the Victor Buono part of the movie which comes to mind. But that plot does make up a large portion of the film, and is taken straight from SUNSET BOULEVARD.
BABY JANE is a great film, but part of its plot is stolen.
Well, stolen is a loaded word.
As is plagiarism.
But the thing is, there are only so many plots in the world, and they are there for anyone to borrow.
Yes, borrow. That’s it!
Borrow is a lovely word.
And borrowing is something all us creatives can do.
We just have to do it well.
Next time, adapting existing plots for our own purposes.