The Feud Is Over

There is a lot of reality in the recent TV mini-series Feud – Bette Davis vs Joan Crawford. Books have been written about this catfight rivalry. Nothing new is added to the story but the series puts it firmly into its historic context: the subjugation of women for the pleasure & profit of men. It would be nice to think this has changed – sure there has been a power shift to give women greater control but male entitlement is disgruntled as opposed to encouraging & accepting. I also know the film studios did to male stars what it did to women.

Produced by the minds behind American Horror Story (AmHor), the series is a masterpiece that stands with the best the BBC has ever produced. Lavish in attention to period detail – costumes, hair, music – it’s clear no money was spared in making this show. Camera work is stunning, sets are astonishing & no opportunity is lost in making the leads look spectacular. The narrow focus also keeps the ‘plot’ from running away with the narrative as AmHor always does.

Lange & Sarandon give compelling rich performances, each capturing the inner & outer struggles of these two actors. Jessica at ease in the glamour that stifled Crawford’s career, Susan at home in the talent that drove Davis’s. Alfred Molina is their equal as Robert Aldrich – a director needing the hand that feeds him while it beats him at the same time.

At times I sense that these two actresses where happy to have targets for their cutting unkindness – many of the insults are a matter of public record & often feel more like an opportunity to be spiteful for their public than as deeply held emotions. Like a reviewer with a great nasty line that finally finds a movie review to show it off in – the ‘clever’ remark is more important than the target.

What is missing is Christine – a mention of her in the final episode. Plus, considering how open the AmHor men are about exploring gay & lesbian sexuality in historic context, I was expecting something about Crawford’s bisexuality. But those are quibbles about one of the best pieces of American TV I’ve seen & one that I’m willing to see again when the DVD comes out.

When that DVD comes out I’ll probably pick it up for any extras it includes. On-line people are picking sides: Team Joan, Team Bette. My mother was a Bette fan but I was more inclined to Joan – Crawford seemed more real & thanks to the Dearest biography is a major queer camp icon. Davis never got a role as iconic Mildred Pierce – Margo in All About Eve comes close though. ‘Fasten your seats belts, its going to be a bumpy night’ vs ‘Get out & take your things before I throw them in the street & you with them.’

Like This?

I didn’t enjoy it

I never have

but so many do

I had to try it

I thought it might be different

with him

when I said yes

let’s do it

it was no different

I didn’t enjoy it any more

or less

than I ever have

I expected

that if I did it often enough

with the right guy

I’d start to like it

start to see why others did it

but it never got more pleasant

in fact

I began to dread it so much

I stopped doing anything

with anyone

I didn’t explain

apologize

I kept it to myself

it seemed pointless to be contradictory

to have to explain it to anyone

I thought it might be better

with him

it wasn’t

I kept that disappointment to myself

tried to act as if

it was great

oh baby oh baby

he was fooled

fulfilled

I was happy to make him happy

looking forward to being together

yet dreading it at the same time

going through the motions

for the emotional pay off

of having my cake

but not wanting to eat it

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2 thoughts on “The Feud Is Over

  1. I second Ms. Snailgurl – excellent review. I was a fan of both actresses – Joan because she was freakin’ fierce off camera (if I had the money, I’d dress just like her) and Bette because she sent chills as ‘Baby Jane’. I don’t think I saw her in anything else as memorable, but that one role…just….all the eyes, as they say.

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