Ryan Murphy continues to prove he is the king of television business. He created shows like Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story and my personal favorite The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. His newest production is an anthology series about feuds and the first chapter of this new venture is about one of the most notorious rivalries from Hollywood. The show is called Feud: Bette and Joan and it is focus on Joan Crawford (played by Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (played by Susan Sarandon).
Murphy’s dramatization of this rivalry is the perfect mix of elegance and cheesy soap opera. And some big name actors were assembled for the show.
Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon portrayed the two main characters perfectly! Sarandon is really bringing the essence of Bette Davis' personality in a phenomenal way and Lange is acting her ass off! She is playing Joan so fragile and vulnerable. Besides these two great actress the cast also counts with - Alfred Molina as director/producer Robert Aldrich, Stanley Tucci as Warner Bros. studio head Jack L. Warner, Alison Wright as Pauline Jameson (Aldrich's assistant), Judy Davis as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and Jackie Hoffman as Crawford's maid Mamasita (which is an absolute pleasure to watch). Bette and Joan doesn’t only have excellent acting, amazing sets and outstanding costumes. The show also offers a fascinating behind the scenes look at the power struggles, the fierce negotiations, the dirty tricks, and the shameless gender/age discrimination that went into the making of classic Hollywood movies.
What is more impressive about the show though, is the level of attention to details! Feud is what I like to call - fact check TV. I normally have my iPad with me as I watch the show and I’m always checking if what I’m seeing on the screen matches with what actually happened in real life and it always perfectly does.
But, why did they hate each other so much? Well, both were very complicated women. And according to some biographies of the actresses the beef started many years before the events shown in Bette and Joan and it was because a man, Crawford’s ex-husband (Bob Thomas) to be more precise. But it wasn’t until they worked together in the film What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? that the things got really bad. The infamous film brought this feud to its boiling point.
Both actress had enjoyed massive critical and public success in their careers. But in 1962 though, their best years were behind them. Both were badly in need of a hit. As explained in Bette and Joan, it was Crawford who convinced Davis to sign for What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? And It was on the set of this film that the most legendary episodes in Davis and Crawford rivalry took place. The series follows all the process of making the film and the level of pettiness showed on both sides as well as the ugly aftermath, the Oscars ceremony—in which Crawford found a way to hijack what Davis thought could be her best-actress statuette. And if that wasn’t enough drama, they also showed the time that the duo reunited and tried to make another movie called Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte.
It's a shame they couldn't have past the competition. They were two very strong and talented women and working together would have make so much more sense for the both of them. Older actresses were clinging for their lives back in the 60s and even though this rivalry might have help sell some gossip magazines, it definitely did not help their careers.
TV doesn't get much better than this, folks. Feud: Bette and Joan is an instant classic and a love letter to Hollywood!