Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford. FX/Prashant Gupta

First, check out this cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland. Zeta-Jones tries hard but comes up short, mostly because her portrayal of de Havilland has hard edges, whereas de Havilland had none. Other castings are hit-or-miss.

Alfred Molina as director Robert Aldrich. OK, no one ever really remembers Aldrich.

Judy Davis was as perfect as they could get as Hedda Hopper. Remember her as the bitter mother in “The Dressmaker.” Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell? They could have done better there, and Sarah Paulson as Geraldine Page. It’s hard to get a closer Geraldine Page.

Stanley Tucci as Jack Warner, the feisty older brother of the Warner Bros. studios. Better — close — but Tucci is so good.

Most of you are probably scratching your heads. Of course, these are names of the past, and no one except your older friends knows them — except both of this story’s stars are played by current living stars, Jessica Lange as “Crawford” and Susan Sarandon as “Bette” .

Of course, we’re talking about the FX rerun of “Feud” that originally debuted in April 2017, when the legendary feud between the two famed actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis had long been forgotten.


What you’re going to see in this series is a story that “celebrates” that well-publicized “feud”  that was mostly fueled by various publicists to enhance their “end of days” careers.

Producer/director Ryan Murphy’s star, Sarandon, gives us a Davis impression, and that’s about it. I’ve seen female impressionists do a better job. Nobody is going to give us more than a basic copy of Davis. Go watch “Now Voyager” tonight and see how wonderful she is.

I confess: This reviewer comes from the tail end of those stars’ lives and remembers the days they walked the streets of Beverly Hills. Given that, does anyone except old film buffs even care? Murphy just gives us a chorus of echoes that most readers can’t hear.

Lange, a superb actor, doesn’t come anywhere close to the real “No wire hangers in my house” Joan. Lange is incapable of capturing Crawford’s fury which we’ve come to know from her daughter’s book. Nice try.

There was, out of all this, the true story of the lawsuit from de Havilland, who claimed Zeta-Jones’ portrayal of her made her seem like a ” vulgar hypocrite and gossip.” De Havilland, who was always as soft and real as a Malibu breeze, was right about that (but she lost the lawsuit).

“Bette and Joan” is ultimately a dusty old tale about two fading portraits on a wall. It is ultimately simply boring. But it’s your television set. Watch what you like.

Next week, a look at the much better Hulu’s “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans,” with a chorus line of lovely “swans” and a superb portrait of Capote by Tom Hollander.


J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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