Created by writer/director Ryan Murphy and Starring Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis Feud, the new limited eight episode series on FX, is a peek into the legendary rivalry, sort of friendship, oh-so-fun to watch making of the campy and surprisingly good Oscar nominated horror Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!
Murphy is on a winning streak since Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story, The People Vs. OJ Simpson, and now Feud. When I heard about the idea for the show and then heard who would be playing the leads I was really excited because Jessica Lange (two-time Oscar winner Tootsie and Blue Sky) and Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) are two of my favorite actresses. I knew the caliber of writing, production design, and acting would be bring this show to life and elevate it to an Emmy and Golden Globe caliber.
I WAS RIGHT!
Feud captivated me from the second the pilot started. I love Old Hollywood and I’m fascinated its Golden Age when actors and actresses worked for studios. I’m also a big fan of the movie Mommie Dearest starring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford which I remember watching with my parents in the 80s when I was just a young child. I was pretty interested to see Jessica Lange’s take on Crawford and I knew Sarandon with her bubble eyes would sell Davis to the audience. Again, I was right. Here’s what I’ll say about the pilot and what I believe will be the rest of the seven episodes: Lange and Sarandon are ELECTRIC together and they light up the screen.
These seasoned veterans in the industry are powerhouse actresses that feed off of each other’s energy and give performances that I’m calling now will bring nominations if not wins in both the Emmys and Golden Globes.
What I love about the show is that it’s SO much more than just a cat fight, two women being bitchy and jealous, trying to sabotage the other. It goes way beyond that and shows the women at their most private and vulnerable moments. One of my favorite lines is from Olivia De Havilland played gracefully by Catherine Zeta-Jones when she says:
“Feuds are never about hate. Feuds are about pain.” – Olivia de Havilland
On one hand we have Crawford who only ever seemed to want to be accepted by her female peers and only ever wanted to work… but also wanted to be the biggest and brightest star in Hollywood. She was ALWAYS, ALWAYS on. So, it leaves me wondering, who is the real Joan Crawford? Was everything about her an act? Joan was also beautiful and desperately fragile because she knew that her beauty wouldn’t last forever.
And then there’s Bette who was stubborn and opinionated but deep down had a good and genuine heart. Bette was ALL about the work, the art, the acting. She simply wanted to act and didn’t care who she had to bulldoze to get the part. She wanted the good, meaty roles and she knew how to play them, she had a great eye and gut instinct for how to make good films.
This show is a feast for the eyes with the glamor of old Hollywood and it’s vibrancy, a look behind the scenes of how “pictures” used to be made, and a treat if you love, really love, fine acting, the way I do. Great storytelling is great storytelling and that’s what this show captures, a really great story, that just happens to be based on two real life legends that were larger than life in SO many ways. If you’re a movie buff I highly recommend this show.