Joan Crawford

TV Show Review: Feud

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5 of 5 stars to the first season of Feud, a TV drama series produced by Ryan Murphy that began airing season one in 2017, focusing on the famous feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford from the 1950s thru the 1970s. Season 2 has already been approved for 2018, and it will focus on the feud between Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s. How could you not want to watch this amazing show?

Why This Show?

  • I am a big fan of Ryan Murphy’s TV Shows. I first watched Nip/Tuck, then Glee, followed by The New Normal. He got a little quiet for a while, but then came back with a few amazing shows in a row: American Horror Story and Scream Queens. But then he produced Feud. I couldn’t say no!
  • I’ve seen a few Bette Davis and Joan Crawford movies, stimulating some interest in how Murphy would portray their feud. I wasn’t alive when they had their disagreements, nor had I seen too many older movies, but I thought this would be a great way to immerse myself in their culture.
  • I enjoy Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange in almost anything they’ve previously been in. How could I not give it a chance?
  • The significant other really wanted to watch it… again, how could I say no?

Show Overview

  • Eight (8) episodes on the FX network in March and April, 2017. Each were about 1 hour long, starting with the pitch for “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and ending with the death of both women.
  • Joan Crawford and Bette Davis are the primary focus of the show. You see Bette’s relationship with two of her daughters, and you see Joan’s relationship with two of her daughters. There is very little concerning the early years of Joan’s life, and Murphy avoided the entire story involving Christina, which was later a book and movie about Joan’s abilities as a mother.
  • The show also has several side stories concerning:
    • Aldrich’s wife, affairs and their divorce
    • The assistant’s drive to be her own director
    • Victor Buono’s “hidden” homosexuality
    • The Warner brothers fame and fortune
    • Hedda Hopper’s cancer
    • Mamacita’s nearly heroic efforts to support Joan

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE (in this show)
    • This is so tough… Both Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange were amazing. I think Sarandon has the slight edge, simply because she plays a bit of a different character for me, whereas Lange’s portrayal reminds me of a few other characters she’s brilliantly played before. That said, I am including both here.
    • Susan Sarandon had some moments worth of an Oscar. She nailed Bette in so many scenes. There were also a few with a bit too much of an edge in the performance, but still memorable. Always with a cigarette in her hand, the accent was critical to show us the Bette we all love. Sarandon held nothing back, always a spit fire — she lit every seen with her expressions, eyes and anger.
    • Jessica Lange’s bitter misery with Joan’s life was evident at every moment of her performance. When she cried, you almost wanted to laugh at her… not because it was poor acting, but because she truly made Crawford a flawed character who couldn’t ever see beyond her own opinions. With age, she mellowed a bit, but never could she see the error of her ways. She may have had a tough life, but she was way too pushy in some aspects. For Lange to get this across was amazing!

  • OTHERS
    • Judy Davis plays Hedda Hopper, a vicious columnist and reporter known to go after the stars with a vengeance. She had some really strong and tender scenes where I didn’t know if she was speaking a brilliant truth, or just being a bitch!
    • Jackie Hoffmann plays Mamacita, Joan’s maid and personal assistant. Her accent is hilarious,  but she’s got a very strong role as a supporting cast member in this one.
    • Alfred Molina plays Robert Aldrich, their director. He is married, but seems to forget it from time to time. His marriage is a key point during a few of the episodes, helping provide some much needed reality for life of the “middle-class” housewife during the 60s.
    • Stanley Tucci plays Jack Warner, the owner of Warner Brothers Studios, who bankrolls the pictures that the women star in. His character was such an ass!!! But the acting was great.
    • Alison Wright plays Pauline, a fictional character portraying the director’s assistant, but she wants to direct her own films. She’s a compilation of several people from real-life at the time. She has several great scenes, helping provide some depth and humor, outside the feud between the two other women.
    • Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Olivia de Havilland, an actress working in other films with both women. She’s closer to Bette Davis, and ultimately takes Joan’s place in “Hush, Hush… Sweet Charlotte.” She’s good, nothing too special tho.
    • Kathy Bates plays Joan Blondell, a similar-type actress during their generation. She provides commentary about Joan after she’s passed away. Fine performance, nothing special.
    • Kiernan Shipka plays Bette’s daughter, fighting with her mother the entire time. Typical character you’ve seen her play elsewhere… best known for her work as the daughter on MadMen.
    • Tons of other stars, but those are the major ones.

The Good and The Bad

  • The set re-creations were phenomenal. Winston had a book about Joan’s NYC apartment and looked it up… they nailed the interior.
  • They took a few liberties with the timing on events and some exaggeration in a few areas. Looked up a few of the realities and facts to compare. Nothing too jarring, but enough where you’d go, “huh?”
  • Both of those women were mad crazy during that time period. It’s like they want to love their children, but I did not see that… they certainly said they loved them and tried to show it, but wow… kids were never the top priority!
  • Old Hollywood was a beautiful thing sometimes. It was also very messed up. Feud clearly shows the highlights in each and every episode.
  • There is a nice dream sequence in the last episode where Murphy explores “what could have been” if the two women ever tried to become friends.
  • The re-creation of some of the real movies were so fun to watch, especially having seen both the movies that were the key focus: Baby Jane and Charlotte.
  • The 1963 Oscars… that episode was brilliant. To see how they stabbed one another in the back. How Joan won in the end even when she didn’t. And to think these ladies did stuff out and in the public, where everyone could see their behavior. Hilarious!

Final Thoughts

  • It’s a re-living of history with about 80% truth and 20% exaggeration or fiction. But what you get is a solid show, full of memories and nostalgia for the olden days… which weren’t all that long ago!
  • The concept of the show is great… and I really look forward to the next one with the prince and princess.
  • Too early to tell if the show will get any nominations at the Oscars, but we’ll see soon enough!
  • You’ll enjoy this no matter what age you are, whether you lived through it, watched some of the movies or think that’s so far in the past, everyone else is ancient. It’s got drama and comedy. It’s got fashion, style and charm. It’s got down and dirty politics and shenanigans. All with a classy production.

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Film Review: All About Eve

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4+ of 5 stars to All About Eve, a drama about an aspiring actress and her obsession with a famous star set in NYC in the 1950s, starring many famous actors and actresses of the decade. The film is also highly praised and considered one of the best movies of the 20th century, which makes it a classic everyone must enjoy.

Why This Movie?

Several weeks ago, I began watching “Feud,” Ryan Murphy’s TV series about the famous feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. I’m a big fan of Ryan’s shows, and I’d also seen “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” many years ago, enjoying Bette Davis’ performance. And then there’s that time I took a a trip to visit Houmas House, the Louisiana plantation where “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” the follow-up to “Baby Jane” also starring Bette Davis, was filmed.

It was Saturday night, last night, and we had plans for an old movie and some friends. And by friends, I mean drinks. Started with Jack Daniels and Ginger Ale. Later switched over to a nice Cabernet Sauvignon to go with the skirt steak chimichurri I made. I was searching for “Rebecca,” but couldn’t find it, so we settled on continuing the Bette Davis experience; hence, we chose “All About Eve.”

Film Overview

Margo Channing is a famous Broadway actress dating her director, Bill Simpson, and currently starring in “Aged in Wood.” Her playwright, Lloyd Richards, writes the parts for her, but most of the time, the main character is mid-20s, despite Margo recently turning 40. Margo’s best friend, Karen Richards, stumbles upon a beautiful young girl, Eve Harrington, standing outside the theatre, claiming she likes watching Margo leave each evening. Karen likes her and brings her inside to meet Margo, and they all quickly become friends. Eve moves in with Margo as her second personal assistant, as Margo already has right hand woman, Birdie.

Over a few months, Eve becomes an essential part of Margo’s life, handling everything from remembering Bill’s birthday to dealing with all Margo’s fans. Birdie suspects something is funny about Eve, but no one believes her. Soon after, Margo finds Eve starting to get too close to Margo’s life and tries to put up a few road blocks. Margo’s friends, Bill, Lloyd and Karen, start seeing the jealous side of Margo and set up a trap to teach her a lesson. Unfortunately, Eve ends up the winner as a result, suddenly finding herself as Margo’s understudy and starring for Margo one evening when Margo’s stuck in the country. Eve’s popularity quickly rises with the help of a critic, Addison DeWitt, and Addison later catches on to Eve’s tricks.

The movie closes with Eve winning an award for her performance in Lloyd’s newest play, finally starring an “age-appropriate actress” according to DeWitt’s newspaper column. But Eve realizes not everything she’s gone after is worth the trouble it’s caused her, leaving her open to another young ingenue who begins to play the same game with Eve — now in the role of woman blind to someone clearly ready to pounce.

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE (in this movie)
    • Bette Davis plays Margo Channing. Bette was fantastic. Now seeing her in two movies, and Susan Sarandon’s performance of Bette in Feud, it seems like Bette always plays the same roles. She’s fantastic at them, but it makes me wonder if she was typecast. I remember Madonna’s song “Vogue” mentioning Bette Davis, and there was the song “Bette Davis Eyes,” which had a number of popular versions by various singers in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Unfortunately, Bette didn’t win the award for this role, but she was nominated for a Best Lead Actress Oscar. Rumor has it, the results were impacted because her co-star, Anne Baxter, was also in the category and split the votes. I’m gonna have to look that up…

  • OTHERS
    • Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington. She’s really good and I could very easily see the line she toed playing obsessed but sane, loving but a charlatan, coy but venomous. Was nominated for the Lead Actress Oscar.
    • Celeste Holm plays Karen Richards. Good performance. First exposure to her. Was nominated for the Supporting Actress Oscar.
    • Gary Merrill plays Bill Simpson. Good performance. First exposure to him.
    • George Sanders plays Addison DeWitt. Good performance. First exposure to him. Won Best Supporting Acting Oscar.
    • Hugh Marlowe plays Lloyd Richards. Good performance. First exposure to him.
    • Thelma Ritter plays Birdie. She was funny. I liken her to Joan Crawford’s assistant, Mamacita. Was nominated for the Support Actress Oscar.
    • Marilyn Monroe has a small role — nothing to really comment about.

The Good and The Bad

  • All About Eve is based on a short story, ‘The Wisdom of Eve’, written by American author Mary Orr [1910-2006]. Thanks IMDB!
  • It’s in black and white, so you have a certain amount of charm and imagination.
  • For a film nearly 70 years old, it had tons of drama and caustic dialogue.

  • The plot was very strong, and it had a few side-stories which kept everything moving along. Never felt bored. Had a few moments of “are you serious,” but then I realized it was 70 years old… so it was a bit of a pioneer.
  • The whole “Eve wins an award” plot seemed a little far-fetched, as well as why Addison chose to support her, knowing she was playing a game the whole time. I thought he had more honesty about him.
  • I’d have liked to see what happens to Margo afterwards… did she have more plays? Did she move to a different playwright? Did she and Bill get married? Why was she OK with Bill working on the play with Eve?
  • I thought we should have seen a fight between Margo and Karen, especially since Karen’s the root of all the evil: Karen brought Eve to meet Margo, Karen told everyone to trust Eve and Karen setup the situation which led to Eve starring in Margo’s play.

What’s Next?

  • Since I’m on a Bette Davis kick, I think I’ll take a look at another film she starred in, “Dark Victory.” And of course, “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
  • Anne Baxter’s performance was also really strong. I will probably see what other movies she made…
  • This is a movie with powerful and strong women, especially for the 1950s. I think it’s got lots of chutzpah.
  • It’s not about crying when someone takes something that belongs to you. It’s about standing up and fight for yourself. I like it!

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I watch TV A LOT. I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. This site, https://thisismytruthnow.com, is where you’ll find TV & Film reviews, book reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.