Monday, March 27, 2017
Feud pt. 4
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Against all odds, Baby Jane is a box office hit. Bette and Joan still struggle for work beyond that success, however. Joanie's resentful of whatever small victories Bette achieves, deciding to pin her hopes instead on an Oscar nomination. This week's episode is mostly about Aldrich and his assistant Pauline, who both aspire to bigger and better things post-Baby Jane, but come up against some hard truths about the industry, and themselves.
First things first: that song Bette sings on TV: TOTALLY REAL. Behold the proof. And I think it says a lot about the difference between the two women that Bette could do something so silly, on television, and Joanie never could, in a million years.
By the time you read this, I'll have already seen Baby Jane. Long story short: I thought it was a pale imitation of Sunset Boulevard. Aldrich actually refers to Sunset last night by way of comparison, saying the difference between the two films was Bill Holden.
I wanna give a shout-out to Stanley Tucci as Jack Warner. I've always loved Tucci; I'm so glad he's part of this series. He's exactly how I've always imagined the head of Warner Bros. to be, based on what I've read about him: ruthless, vindictive, womanizing, and coldly brilliant. Last night he had some particularly great scenes with Alfred Molina. I'll come back to that in a moment.
Alison Wright plays Pauline, a character I admit I've paid little attention to until now. I suspect she's fictitious, made to portray the plight of women of the period (early 60s) who aspired to be directors. She cites as precedent the silent film pioneers (whom Fritzi is currently honoring with a blogathon, one I regret being unable to participate in), because Feud is as much film history lesson as dramatic entertainment. Though Pauline's quest is futile, she's left with hope. This is as good a time as any to mention the women who have directed episodes of Feud, Gwyneth Horder-Payton and Liza Johnson.
It's Aldrich's storyline that connected with me most. We creative people imagine ourselves, to some degree, to be exceptional. People tell us so all our lives. They pay us to do what we do. Sometimes they laud us with awards. We don't imagine limits for ourselves because we can't. To be told, therefore, you're only so good; your artistic worth has a cap that won't be exceeded - well, you can imagine how that might feel. It's a moment borne of the marriage between Art and Commerce. It's cold water in the face of Aldrich, delivered by Warner. It's something every professional fears. And it's an outstanding scene between two great actors.