Feud (2017– )
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Both actresses turned in A-Mazing performances and I won't even attempt to compare them as in one was "better" than the other. With both I quickly lost the sense that I was watching an actress "impersonate" a famous person---they both just became the two women they were playing. Obviously it's easily to do a Broad Characterization of Davis. Drag Queens have been doing that FOR DECADES. Sarandon didn't resorts except once or twice, where it made sense, to that shtick. She nails the Character without it. And Lang is no less phenomenal in the way she inhabits Joan Crawford. These are two extraordinary Actresses at their Peek Powers and I won't compare or try to rate one above the other.
The entire cast, male and female and the entire production was simply the BEST that TV has ever Offered. I could write Chapters about every single participated in this series.
It was simply Extraordinary. I captured it on my Spectrum DVR and have watched it over and over again. I can't seem to let go of it. I'm NOT done yet.
Brava/bravo/brave/bravi to EVERYONE involved.
Murphy has the uncanny ability of going right for the jugular and getting to the heart of the matter. It stings, but it sings.
This is something I often aim for in my own writing.
Life is short. While you'll never hear me complain about long, wide, sweeping vistas and the most elegant dialogue you've ever heard, I also want to get to the point. Don't bury the point. In "Feud: Bette and Joan," Murphy doesn't bury the point, he shines a spotlight on it.
Murphy and all of his directors and one of the most stellar casts you've ever seen anywhere TV, stage or film tell the hell out of the story of the notorious feud between Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
This is simply a master class in acting, screen writing, producing and storytelling. I've never seen anything like it. The actors and I mean all of them are absolutely KILLING these roles. Every single one of them is simply at the top of their game.
I'm writing this review after having seen Episode Six of this eight- installment miniseries. Sorry it took so long.
All I can think is this it was such a shame that Hollywood was hell bent on destroying Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, both of whom were just hitting their strides when Jack Warner felt they were too old to contribute anything worthwhile.
There are so many lessons to be learned here. Here are a few:
Aging isn't a bad thing. It's a glorious thing.
Talent doesn't fade with time, it grows.
Beauty doesn't fade, it changes.
Women get better with age. Period.
Power hungry men are scared little boys.
Hollywood was and is a machine that will chew anyone and I mean anyone - up and spit them out in an instant. Same yesterday, today and probably tomorrow.
Why feud when you can join forces?
Make peace with your past. If you don't, it will haunt you.
Marriage is not for the faint of heart.
Get in front of the story before the story stabs you in the back.
What goes around will surely come back around.
Artistry and fame can co-exist, but it's a tough trick.
When you dig someone's grave, dig one for yourself.
Success is subjective and life is a roller-coaster.
I could go on and on. What fascinates me so much about "Feud: Bette and Joan" is the fact that it's about so much more than a feud between two Hollywood legends. It's truly a cautionary tale about work, ambition, gender, social class, love, marriage, success, money, survival, family, morals you name it.
It's such a pleasure to sit and watch these actors, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Alfred Molina, Judy Davis, Stanley Tucci, Catherine Zeta- Jones, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Jackie Hoffman and others just having the time of their careers with these roles. It's like watching kids playing, only they're adult actors on screen.
While there are many talented young actors out there, they simply don't have the commanding presence and gravitas of these seasoned veterans. Good actors only get better with age.
Too bad Jack Warner refused to believe that.
Even today, while Hollywood is a bit more generous, any aging actor knows that while wrinkles and thinning hair are great for characters, they signal the death knell for screen careers.
But if you're the vengeful sort, take heart. There's a simple reality that we simply cannot escape whether you're in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Washington, DC, Wall Street or the Great Plains feud or no feud politics or no politics
No one is getting out of this alive. - Michael K. Corbin http://artbookguy.com/film-reviews-_783.html
I loved how faithful they stood to the glamour of the 20st century,how remarkably accurate the costumes were and how they used bits from Ryan's interview with Bette,for example the explanation why one of her Oscars looked rubbed off or how they recreated great historic moments such as Bette singing "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane",different scenes from their various movies,how deep they went into each detail or how they completely rejuvenated the Oscars of 1963,which to my astonishment was done in the same building which they completely renovated and used a lot of props for it.
Jessica Lange embodied not the voice of Joan Crawford but her manners,her facade sweetness and her fighting spirit to always go forward. Her highlight I felt was in episode 5 where she turned the Oscars of 1963 into her own little party,orchestrating everything around.Her most emotional scene for me was in the finale,where she has this hallucination about a party with Hedda,Jack and Bette and makes peace with them and herself.
Susan Sarandon was sublime as Bette Davis.She embodied the voice,the power and the actress's renown wit and laugh.She was breathtaking in every scene she played but my favorite was her confrontation with Joan,where each lady said what they wanted to for a long time.
Judy Davis for me was the best addition to the cast,she made me hate Hedda Hopper but embodied her brilliantly,from the costumes,to the manners,the voice and her famous hats.She was a force to be reckon with back in the days,we truly see her claws in the Oscar episode,where she badmouthed and manipulated the situation in order for Joan to get her 2nd Oscar.I sure want this lady to win some awards for her work
Stanley Tucci was the embodiment of Jack Warner. Greedy, electric, bossy,demanding,stylish,every bit of the moguls of the golden age of Hollywood.
Alfred Molina did great as the submissive Robert Aldrich,who always listened to his boss until he realized his own value and went to being a successful movie maker.
Jackie Hoffman as Mamacita was one of the highlights of the series for me,a very good comic relief but also a character with much depth,awareness and generosity.
If you like glamour,good drama and anthology series this show has to be on your list to watch.
Advice to viewers watch "Baby Jane" again if you can't remember it.
The only fault is didn't like Catherine Zeta Jones at Olivia de Havilland. For anybody who has seen Olivia in "Gone with the Wind" and "Light in the Piazza" or any of her movies knows that isn't the way she talks. Her looks were wrong too lacking that sweetness that Olivia has. Recently Olivia has come out suing the makers of the series for fabricating the interviews she gave and putting gossipy and bitchy statements in her mouth in this show. Looking back it did strike me as out of character for her to talk in such a matter. This is the only fault of this otherwise very good miniseries.
Lange and Sarandon have not only managed to possess their subjects but have also been fully possessed by them, giving transcendent performances of rare, indelible power and vulnerability.
Sarandon has hit her stride as Bette Davis and though her performance may not be as volatile as Lange's, the wit, grace and humor she brings to Davis whilst echoing the great star's famous voice and gestures is exquisite to behold. I think it's safe to say that this and "The Meddler" are her best work in years. She's a lock for nominations across the board.
Lange is doing something astonishing here. She's managed to both transcend Faye Dunaway's wonderful and unfairly lambasted performance in Mommie Dearest whilst allowing the spirit of Joan Crawford to possess her in a way that is both eerie and transfixing.
Perusing through Joan Crawford interviews on YouTube, I was taken aback by how sweet and sensitive Crawford could come across. I was expecting a woman with eyebrows constantly and menacingly arched, lips pursed in a perpetual smug smirk, her hands permanently fixed on either side of her waist. What I found instead was a woman whose voice could jump octaves depending on her mood and insecurities, of which she always had many, and who could go from serene to charming to steely in an instant. She could be witty and ballsy, but overall what she showed the public was her gentle, proper, graceful and vulnerable side. Then, of course, there are the drunken interviews - Crawford at the airport, her voice jumping octaves again and accents, from mid-Atlantic to Texan; Crawford in someone's living room, slurring and cursing.
Lange captures Crawford's mercurial nature beautifully. We're halfway through the series and I still don't think I've seen all the sides of Crawford Lange has to reveal. As it is, I already feel as if I've witnessed 5-10 facets of Crawford in the four episodes we've seen. It's a full- bodied and fully integrated performance that relies on every ounce of Lange's talent from her vocal genius to her physical brilliance. When simultaneously set-up against Joan Crawford AND Faye Dunaway, that's truly no easy feat. Her performance here reaches and surpasses the wondrous heights of her Emmy winning work in "Grey Gardens", and "American Horror Story". I wouldn't be surprised if this garners Lange the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Limited Series/Movie.
Together, Lange and Sarandon bring out the best in each other. The metaphor of dancers has often been used by critics when reviewing their work together here. I'll use it again. They are like two dancers taking turns being the lead, completely in sync with one another, always forcing the other to up their game but never striving to overshadow one another. They are electric together.
Judy Davis, Jackie Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Alison Wright and Alfred Molina lead the exquisite supporting cast. Each has moments of brilliance, helping transport us to a Hollywood of yore, both as brutal as it was glamorous and enticing.
I see Davis, Hoffman and Wright all being contenders in supporting actress. Hoffman's understated brilliance has been especially surprising and wonderful to behold.
I'm torn between Tucci and Molina who I feel are both giving amazing, if different, performances. Tucci is sexy and electric, whilst Molina is charming and touching.
I must admit, this series has totally exceeded my expectations. I knew I would like and love it, but I didn't think I would be so moved and IN LOVE with it
There is also a long list of terrific supporting performances such as Alfred Molina as the two Hollywood stars' director Bob Aldrich who in 1962 filmed "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" and Aldrich's difficult relationship with the relentless studio boss Jack Warner (Warner Brothers Pictures) also played to perfection by Stanley Tucci.
Oh, but we cannot forget the superb performance by Ms. Crawford's able assistant/confidant/housekeeper "Mamacita" played to absolute perfection by actress Jackie Hoffman. The relationship between Mamacita and Joan Crawford was more than endearing, it was more reflective of two sisters who were so close knit that nothing could keep them apart, not even Joan Crawford's habitual drinking nor her sometimes explosive temper. Their relationship was not one of a Hollywood film star and her housekeeper but it was exposed in this mini series as one in which one sister (Joan Crawford) was allowed to behave as a spoiled little brat until such time that her mother-like sister Mamacita would pull in those reigns with just a few sharp words and Joan would once again calm down and begin to behave...well Joan would at least behave until the next time she was in front of the camera with Bette Davis.
Other great performances were achieved by the beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones as Bette Davis's friend who was also an established actress in her own right Olivia de Havilland, Dominic Burgess as the plump but young up and coming homosexual stage actor Victor Buono, Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell and another perfect casting of Hedda Hopper played by Judy Davis.
This mini-series is very deserving of a number of Emmy's for so many of the film stars as well as for categories such as for the magnificent period style costume design, set design (we loved seeing all that plastic covering Joan's living room furniture...even her pillows!) the excellent screen writing, and even for the episode(s) brilliant opening musical score which was a high grade animation credit role depicting some of the scenes from their only film together What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? The opening credit animation musical score was such a powerful opening credit score that we felt that we were watching an Academy Award best film and not just another TV mini-series.
Mrs Shullivan and I truly enjoyed each and every episode which provided valuable insight into what initially may have caused the highly documented FEUD (thus the movie title) between these two A rated Hollywood actresses whose careers were winding down before they agreed in 1962 to co- star in the film classic What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?
Both Joan Crawford and Bette Davis displayed those unacceptable and ugly characteristics of a Diva, a spoiled actress who was prepared to damage their own picture(s) to get what they individually wanted, to "one- up" each other at any cost. Pity they did not realize early enough that they were being played by both movie mogul Jack Warner and by their own Director Bob Aldrich. This is a story that was well worth telling, and even a better story due to so many outstanding performances not only by Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Stanley Tucci, Alfred Molina, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and my favorite Mamacita played by Jackie Hoffman, but this mini-series was so well done because of the entire cast and because of a well written script whose interest never waned as the characters were all brought to life in period costumes and period set designs with the utmost sincerity and with great dialogue.
We loved every last minute of FEUD. A perfect 10 out of 10 score!
The story opens in the early 60's, when both Davis and Crawford's stars had begun to dim after careers that stretched back to the silent era; Murphy makes it plain that a cruel Hollywood no longer had any use for these women because they were on the wrong side of 50. But I would point out that the melodramas which both women had excelled in and made big box office had gone completely out of style by this time; simply put, no one was making Bette Davis and Joan Crawford movies anymore. Still, it was a time before easy plastic surgery and Botox, and the camera was not kind. It is Crawford, desperate for a hit, who finds a property suited to both her and Davis, takes it to director Robert Aldrich, who sells studio head Jack Warner on the project. These two women, who have been distant and chilly rivals for decades are now working together, and everyone, including Warner and gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper, can't wait for the sparks to fly, mainly because conflict sells newspapers and movie tickets. The two wary Hollywood legends are easily goaded and happy to comply, as perceived slights and resented favoritism by director Aldrich quickly leads to hurled insults, biting put downs and slammed doors as each one attempts to steal BABY JANE from the other. This feud continues as the movie proves to be a smash hit, through the 1963 Academy Awards where Davis was up for Best Actress and the snubbed Crawford schemed to steal the limelight from her, culminating on the set of HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, the follow up to BABY JANE, that re-teamed Crawford and Davis, where all out war broke out, a donnybrook that permanently damaged Crawford's career when she faked an illness in an effort to outmaneuver her rival and was fired from the movie.
Murphy and his creators work hard to make FEUD a story of how badly Hollywood treats women, including legends, and how it easily disrespects and uses them; sometimes he pounds this theme too hard as each episode has to have someone make a pointed comment on how badly the movie industry treats the fairer sex. He is so intent on proving his point that sometimes he won't get out of the way and just let the story tell itself. And he desperately wants these two formidable women to be friends, so much so, that he concocts a sequence in the finale where a dying Crawford imagines a reconciliation of sorts with Davis. The truth is, some people are born to be enemies; that hate is a powerful motivator and it is doubtful that Davis and Crawford would ever have been friends under any circumstances.
The acting is truly exceptional starting with the two leads: Sarandon has Davis's clipped Yankee cadence down perfect without ever slipping into caricature, while Jessica Lange, who had the harder job, single handed she rescues the legacy of Joan Crawford from the long shadow of MOMMIE DEAREST. There is an amazing supporting cast bringing to life some famous names from Kennedy era Hollywood, starting with Alfred Molina as the great director Robert Aldrich, a man revered by movie buffs today; Stanley Tucci is the cunning Jack Warner; Judy Davis is Hedda Hopper the gossip columnist who was nobody's friend in the end. There are appearances by Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia De Haviland; Kathy Bates is Joan Blondell, friends to both stars who knew the score. Sarah Paulsen is Geraldine Page; Dominic Burgess is Victor Buono and all hail Jackie Hoffman as Mamacita, Joan Crawford's long suffering housekeeper and companion. And there is a cameo by John Waters as producer William Castle.
What is also amazing the incredibly accurate recreations of real life events, including Davis's singing an awful novelty tune on the Andy Williams show to promote BABY JANE; the trailer for Crawford's STRAIT JACKET; and an uncanny recreation of the monkey man mask for Crawford's co-star in TROG, a British horror film that was her last movie. They even recreate one of those awful Dean Martin show roasts that Davis debased herself by taking part in during the 70's. All the eight episodes are a wealth of back story for movie buffs and some truly outstandingly staged and acted scenes; the highlight has to be "And the Winner Is " where Crawford takes over the Green Room at the Oscars. Also in "Abandoned," where Davis and Crawford admit to each other that all of their success was never enough; equally unforgettable is Crawford's night time drunken stagger around the set of TROG as Jim Morrison's The End plays on the soundtrack.
At the end of the first episode, we hear Brenda Lee's "I Want to be Wanted" playing in the background, it seems to perfectly sum up Davis and Crawford's motivation, these lonely women whose careers were their validation; the same could be said of Bob Aldrich, and Jack Warner, and Pauline, Aldrich's female assistant who so badly wanted be a director in her own right. All of these people whose livelihoods depended on being wanted by the American public. It makes for a great story.