In 1962, aging Hollywood stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange) are hired for a quirky horror movie, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?… but their rivalry threatens to sink the whole project. This look behind the scenes of a movie that would usher in a strange new trend in Hollywood offers grand entertainment in the shape of two deliciously catty performances by Sarandon and Lange; Alfred Molina is also terrific as their tortured director. It’s not all fun; the series becomes a sharp comment on what Tinseltown (and the audience) demand from their workers, especially female stars.
2017-U.S. Made for TV. 406 min. Color. Created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen, Michael Zam. Cast: Jessica Lange (Joan Crawford), Susan Sarandon (Bette Davis), Judy Davis (Hedda Hopper), Jackie Hoffman, Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci… Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson.
Trivia: Alternative title: Feud: Bette and Joan. Originally shown in eight episodes; one of them was directed by Helen Hunt. Murphy initially conceived this as another of his anthology series.
Last word: “We read this Black List script called ‘Best Actress’ that we bought, and a month later I met with Susan Sarandon to play Bette and Jessica Lange to play Joan. It was actually the first time I had ever talked to Jessica Lange, which predated ‘American Horror Story’. They were both really interested, and they loved my take on it. Then for six years, we just struggled with it, because I really wanted to do an in-depth look at these two women’s interior world, and their journeys. Doing it as a movie, it became clear there just wouldn’t be enough time. We’d do a draft that would be 120 pages just about the shooting of ‘Baby Jane’.” (Murphy, Deadline)