NY Times re-cap: Feud: Bette and Joan, episode 4 “More, or Less”

My re-cap of episode 4 of Feud is now up at the NY Times.

This entry was posted in Television and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to NY Times re-cap: Feud: Bette and Joan, episode 4 “More, or Less”

  1. Stevie says:

    Okay, time to share my Joan Crawford anecdote. Dateline: July 1968

    Every summer there’s an event in Seattle called the Seafair and it mostly focuses on hydroplane races, a boat regatta, and the selection of Miss Seafair. The Space Needle had become the hugely successful symbol of the fast-growing, forward-thinking city and the Needle and surrounding buildings from what remained of the Century 21 Exposition (World’s Fair) in 1962 created the new Seattle Center.

    On a sunny Saturday during Seafair when I was 9, my Dad and I went to the Seattle Center to visit one of my favorite places: the Science Center. As we walked from the parking lot to the science pavillion along with about 10 other people, a biege Cadillac convertible drove towards us with an old woman holding on precariously in the back seat. It was unheard of for a car to be driving in the pavilion, so Dad and I were both surprised, but the car came right towards us and stopped.

    The old lady scrambled out, flung off her huge sunglasses, and posed next to the car. I was perhaps 6 feet away from here and was frankly fascinated: her makeup was a crackled mask of white, the cracks reminding me of old paintings I had seen in museums, her lips were scarlet and her eyes were bloodshot. She was wearing a black fur boa, fur-lined sunhat, black gloves and a tailored white wool suit with an enormous diamond pin on the lapel – quite strange in small-town, undressy Seattle – and she held her head up regally. A photographer who had been in the car took a picture with one of those old-fashioned huge cameras and an enormous flashbulb, the bulb crackling and smoking ominously, and the lady signed one perfunctory autograph. Then the grin faded, replaced by a steely expression, and she made her way back into the car.

    Nobody had announced her name. There was no applause, just stares from unbelieving people heading towards a museum or science exhibit. No posters heralded the impromptu “event.”

    As the car drove off in pursuit of the next group of tourists on this strange and sad publicity tour, I asked my Dad, “Who WAS that?”

    “That’s Joan Crawford, a big movie star of the past.”

    I had no idea who she was. Her pictures weren’t on TV yet, and this was decades before VCRs, so my love affair with the great ladies of the golden age of Hollywood hadn’t yet ignited. It was a couple of years later, when I was watching Mildred Pierce for the first time on TV, that I realized it was the same person.

    What can I say? Ms. Crawford was determined to make the most of what even I realized at 9 years of age was a humiliating task and she handled it with professionalism. Imagine what was going through her mind as the Cadillac approached yet another piddly group of tourists just trying to cross the pavillion.

    Breaks my heart just to think of it.

    Love you! xxx Stevie

  2. Jane says:

    I agree with you, Sheila, about the surprising turn in this episode, the focus shifting to Robert Aldrich and Pauline. But I must admit the scene with Pauline and Crawford (I’m not turning you down because you’re a woman. I’m turning you down because you’re a nobody) was my favorite in this episode. I thought both actresses were brilliant in this little scene, and there was just SO MUCH going on there. I rewound it and made my husband watch it. Lange was just so good with her lines. It seemed as if Crawford believed she was being helpful, un-ironic, in her advice to Pauline about not appearing greedy. And Pauline’s reaction — by not reacting — just priceless. It’s strength lies in its restraint.
    I also enjoyed seeing Sarandon recreate Davis’s various talk-show/variety show appearances. And the Perry Mason clip looked great.

    • sheila says:

      // I thought both actresses were brilliant in this little scene, and there was just SO MUCH going on there. //

      I totally agree.

      Interesting, too, that Joan had already been directed by a woman – Dorothy Arzner – in The Bride Wore Red – a wonderful film – but by the 1960s it had become even more unheard of – an example of the world moving backwards. And Joan seemed to move backwards too – which I suppose is something that happens to a lot of people when they grow older. They get cautious. They distrust change.

      I am loving the re-creations too. Sarandon seems to be having a ball.

      The series seems to be more the story of Crawford than the story of Davis – maybe because Crawford’s career ended up in a worse state than Davis’ – and so that hers is more of a tragic fall from grace. Not sure. What do you think?

      • Jane says:

        I agree that the story, for me, really is about Crawford. JL has just stolen the show. I came into the show probably more of a Bette Davis fan than a Crawford fan for the simple reason that I’d been watching Davis films since I was a teenager. I found them more accessible and more available. I did love Mildred Pierce back in the day, but couldn’t get into The Women. I think, now, I was too young for it. By accident one day I caught The Best of Everything on cable and realized I needed to give Crawford another chance. In recent years — mainly based on word-of-mouth and recommendations from blogs such as yours — I have caught up to more Crawford films and have become a convert. I really enjoyed The Bride Wore Red, Humoresque, Possessed, Sudden Fear, A Woman’s Face, Daisy Kenyon — all of which I’ve only caught up to maybe in the past 5 years. And her range impresses me.
        Within the world of the show, the building tension is palpable, and this is what works for me. I want to shake her (and Davis) and tell them it doesn’t need to be this way ….. They do seem like oil and water but I can’t help but want them to work it out, despite myself, and despite knowing what is to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *