Thursday, June 29, 2017


One of the best things I have seen on television in a long time has been the new show Feud. Feud is an American anthology television series for FX created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen, and Michael Zam, presented as the dramatization of the actual events that took place in history. It premiered on March 5, 2017.The first season, which consists of eight episodes, is subtitled Bette and Joan and chronicles the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during and after the production of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

The whole cast is amazing. Susan Sarandon is perfectly cast as Bette Davis. Sarandon, with those bedroom eyes like Bette makes you forget that she is Sarandon and not Bette Davis. Jessica Lange is great as Joan Crawford and captures her personality, but nothing against Lange, but she is not nearly as beautiful or physically the same as Crawford. The supporting cast is strong as well including a great Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell.

The series was in development - with Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon on board - for seven years before finally being given the green light. Creator Ryan Murphy interviewed Bette Davis months before her death in 1989. The agreed-upon 20-minute interview lasted four hours, and inspired his characterization of Davis. When he asked her about Joan Crawford, she would talk about how much she hated her, before saying "She was a professional. And I admired that."

Olivia de Havilland, played in the series by Catherine Zeta-Jones was 100 years old when the program aired. Asked for her opinion, de Havilland responded "Having not seen the show, I cannot make a valid comment about it...However, in principle, I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves." Catherine Zeta-Jones claimed that while she did not contact 100 year old Olivia de Havilland to advise on her portrayal, she did consult her (also 100 year old) father-in-law Kirk Douglas for advice. She claimed that Douglas described de Havilland as "Aaah Olivia," Bette Davis: "Aww, she was a broad. She told it as it was," and Joan Crawford: "She was out of her f***ing mind!"

Not to give too much away of the excellent series, the last episode is especially sad and touching. Both women, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were discarded from Hollywood when they became too old. Crawford had to resort to B-horror movies and Davis made a number of television appearances that were beneath her. While Bette Davis was alone at the end due to pushing away her daughter, grandchildren, and other Hollywood friends - Crawford is far more tragic of a figure. She squandered her money and was living along and modestly in an apartment. 

Whether both women were drunks or child abusers are beyond the fact that they deserved better by Hollywood. The series really does a great job going into all of this. To this day, Hollywood is a business for the youth and aging female stars are still forgotten by the business. Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange prove that older actresses can still turn out great roles, and Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are great old actresses that should be better remembered for their great roles that they created on film...


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