Monday, April 24, 2017
Feud pt. 8
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7
The years fly by. Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte was made without Joan. Her health declines, and the few movie roles she gets offered worsen. Bette works more steadily, but her growing alcoholism causes the rift between her and BD to expand. As both actresses approach the end of their lives, they look back on their careers and their great rivalry. Can they move past their mutual disdain and be friends before it's too late?
Now that it's all over, what have we learned, Charlie Brown? I think what will stay with me longest from this remarkable masterwork of television is the idea of the drug we call fame, and how easy it is to get hooked. Stardom is a heady allure. Classic Hollywood was all about the glamour, potency and magnetism of stars: shaped, made up and trained to walk and talk like someone special, to be projected on a giant screen and be adored.
We fans devote blogs and websites to them. We buy paraphernalia connected with them. Sometimes we even try to look like them. Most of all, we watch their movies over and over and over and proclaim how much we love them. Is it any surprise a Joan Crawford or a Bette Davis would arise as a result?
Bette and Joanie, for all their talents, were deeply flawed women who were twisted by fame, by the system that created them, and made to despise each other when they could have been friends. When we sensed the enmity between them, we fed on it and demanded more, until they almost became caricatures of themselves.
Time passes, though. The gossip and the scandal and the petty jokes fade and are forgotten... but the work remains. Grand Hotel. Dark Victory. Possessed. Jezebel. Mildred Pierce. All About Eve. And yes, even Baby Jane.
The work is why we still remember.
Feud was my first look at the programs of Ryan Murphy. I understand now why he is so celebrated. This was a top-notch production, from future Emmy-nominees Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon on down - and I haven't even mentioned things like the wonderful Saul Bass-like opening credits! I'm extremely selective with the little TV I do watch. I think I chose wisely with this one.
(The real) Olivia de Havilland on Feud