If you thought there were sharp elbows in the campaigns for this year’s Academy Awards, FX’s upcoming Feud: Bette And Joan shows how just rough and ruthless things once were in Hollywood. Ryan Murphy’s latest anthology series also shows stars Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange at the top of their considerable games in performances that will almost certainly see the two competing at this year’s Emmys.
Depicting the legendary and acidic rivalry between the pair of two-time Oscar winners and What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? co-stars, the March 5-debuting Feud certainly is also a bit too campy, a tad too muddled in its social commentary, and might be too inside baseball if you’re not a Hollywood historian. Despite those shortcomings, the vast talent displayed by Oscar winner Sarandon as Bette Davis and longtime Murphy collaborator and two-time Oscar winner Lange as Joan Crawford makes the eighth-episode first iteration of Feud simply something to see – as was the real-life battle for Oscar glory in 1962 and the fallout.
As I say in my video review above, in a Hollywood today where sexism, ageism and divide-and-conquer are still the status quo, the battles faced more than 50 years ago by the then 54-year-old and virtually discarded Davis and the broke but still striving 58-year-old Crawford feel unfortunately poignant in 2017.
Additionally poignant and a ton of fun in 2017 is Stanley Tucci as Jack Warner. Beverly Hills pool scum in so many ways, Tucci’s shamelessly scheming, spiteful and sexist Warner is full of studio-boss power and chews up the small screen when he is on it. Classing the whole joint up — a real feat when the caliber of Sarandon and Lange are about — is a wonderfully cast Catherine Zeta-Jones as Davis’ loyal pal and fellow two-time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland.
Feud also stars Alfred Molina as embattled-in-his-own-way Baby Jane director Robert Aldrich, a far too underused Judy Davis as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, Kathy Bates as a salty Joan Blondell, and Mad Men alum Kiernan Shipka as Davis’ daughter.
Click on my video review above for more on Feud. Are you ready for this battle royale?
This review originally ran on Feb. 23.