Emily Nussbaum's long look at Feud in The New Yorker is beautifully written, and she sums the whole damn thing up right here:
A woke Ryan Murphy is a tricky proposition: as anyone who watched late seasons of “Glee” knows, didactic camp can be a nightmare. “Feud” has its flaws—a jokey song cue here, blunt exposition there. But Murphy lets the contradictions sizzle: he knows that schlock can double as great art; that self-loathing can work both as a goad to ambition and as an emotional crippler. “Hollywood should be forced to look at what they’ve done to her,” Geraldine Page (Sarah Paulson) remarks of Joan Crawford late in the series, but not unkindly. Like all great horror, “Feud” loves its monsters. It’s also a lot of fun.
If you're watching Feud, you're probably enjoying it. It has flashes of brilliance, mostly attached to Jessica Lange.
I'm not crazy about Susan Sarandon in this project because she seems intimidated by Bette Davis, and it comes out in her timidity when speaking. It's like she's scared to be a parody, so she winds up being a weak imitation.
I did enjoy the fairly accurate recreation of Bette's undignified promo activities in singing on The Andy Williams Show.
Just realized that B.D. Hyman (who should be grateful she's being given a highly symp-aesthetic portrayal in Feud: Bette and Joan, in which she's played by gorgeous Kiernan Shipka), Bette Davis's daughter, has actually stated that her mother practiced witchcraft.
Literally, the born-again minister (!) has said her mom was a witch.
Check out Inside Edition's rehashing of this other feud ...
Bette & Julie, Joan & Gina (Image via Warner Bros.)
I'm very much enjoying Feud. I think Jessica Lange is sublime as Joan Crawford, and while Susan Sarandon is not up to the challenge of filling Bette Davis's shoes (she often sounds like she's trying to sound tough), she's not terrible and has her moments.
Lange as Crawford (Image via FX)
Overall, it's an entertaining look at a fantastic film's fascinating journey from desperate ploy to stay relevant to greatness. Gossipiy? Sure.
West German lobby card (Image via Warner Bros.)
It made me wonder a bit about the cast of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) Of course, Crawford died in 1977 and Davis in 1989, and I remembered when Victor Buono — so deliciously desperate as Edwin Flagg in the movie — died very young, at age 43, in 1982. (Impossible to fathom that he was in his early twenties in Jane!)
There were very few other memorable faces in the film, but among them, future soap diva Anna Lee made an impression as the warring sisters' neighbor (she died at 91 in 2004), and of course Maidie Norman was wonderful as the righteous housekepper Elvira (she died at 85 in 1998).
Maidie as Crawford's smart-as-a-whip secretary in Torch Song. (Video still via MGM)
Norman had previously worked with Crawford on Torch Song (1953) — yes, the movie in which Crawford donned blackface: