I haven't seen Baby Jane yet. It was on TCM last week. I missed it, but it'll be on again later this month. For a long time I didn't think I was missing all that much. I knew its nefarious reputation. I figured, why bother with that camp-fest when I could watch better movies with those two, in their prime? Well, once I sit down with it, I'll talk about it here, but I'm sure I can still appreciate Feud on its own merits...
...which are many so far. Chapter 1 establishes B&J's dire straits as fading screen queens who can't get arrested in Tinseltown anymore, and how Joanie recruits Bette and director Robert Aldrich to film an adaptation of a suspense novel about, oddly enough, faded Hollywood glamour.
Jessica Lange as Joanie is a bizarre hybrid of the two, not quite looking like one or the other. Plus, she has the evergreen memory of Faye Dunaway's performance as Joanie in Mommie Dearest to contend with. So far, Lange appears to have made the role her own: brittle and needy, hungry for respect as an actress and a woman. Susan Sarandon was born to play Bette with those eyes of hers. She can't stop looking like herself, but she has Bette's attitude down pat - fire to Lange's ice. And how cool was it to see her in Bette's All About Eve dress for a brief moment?
Director/co-writer Ryan Murphy washes Feud in bright colors, fancy wardrobes and lavish sets that capture the opulence of Hollywood. I had expected this to feel like a theatrical movie, given the all-star cast and subject matter, but it still kind of has the feel of a modern TV drama, although I'm still not used to hearing actual profanity in a TV show. I'm amazed this is an original teleplay and not adapted from somebody's biography or movie history book. My classic film blogger friends will know the details of this history better than me, so I'll rely on their judgment as to how accurate everything is here. I'll post links to write-ups of theirs if I see them.
Feud is eight weeks long, so in subsequent posts I'll talk about the rest of the cast and other aspects of the series as they come to me, but so far, I'm mighty impressed.