I can totally see why more people (here at least) are watching Feud over American Crime. While both are actually pretty sad stories, Feud at least mixes in a lot of humor. Plus, Feud has Mamacita, and that alone makes it the winner. I am super happy to have this recap so that I can turn off the news today because it is pretty damn depressing. So let’s see what I missed last night!
Um, three minutes in and I am not sure what to say. Was Hagsploitation really a word used to describe these ax-murdery films in the 1960s? Did Joan Crawford really wander through screenings of movies waving an axe around adorned in feather boas and evening gloves while people threw stuff at her? Is this real life or Ryan Murphy’s fantasy life? I’m going to have to let you guys explain all of this to me. Because at the moment all I can do is turn to you here on my couch and ask, “WTF is going on here?”
I may have lied. This may be even sadder than American Crime.
At least we have Mamacita. Mamacita tries to console Joan but it’s impossible. She’s rewarded for her compassion by Joan lobbing the flower arrangement from her director friend at the wall, narrowly missing Mamacita’s head. Joan apologizes immediately but Mamacita has had it. She says the next time Joan throws something at her head she is leaving and she will have nothing. No! Mamacita can never leave. She is the whole show, dammit. Behave Joan Crawford, you crazy old bat!
This episode is at least superficially about getting the cast and crew of Baby Jane back together to make Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte. This mostly happens because Jack Warner is worried that his rivals at Columbia are getting big numbers with Hagsploitation movies. Warner says that he inventing the genre of denigrating women. I guess one takes one’s glory where one can find it in Hollywood. I wonder, mostly because I just finished a WWHL recap, if Andy Cohen has a photo in his office of Jack Warner. If not, perhaps we should send him one.
Hedda stops by to visit Joan. Hedda is having heart problems. It seems the theme of this episode, if not the entire season is going to be leaving a legacy. Hedda is worried that her legacy is just reams of gossip. Or is she? She goes on to say that her work destroying the lives of all sorts of people she felt deserved it makes her feel good. Her work has contributed to the moral economy. Which is why she is there to alert Joan that there is a “stag movie” floating around purporting to be of Joan during her youth. A porno, if you will, of that period of time. Hedda is running with the story and tries to get Joan to give an interview about it, but she refuses.
Meanwhile, Bob Aldrich is also worried about his directorial legacy after a poor run by his last film. Jack Warner calls Bob in convince him to do another hagsploitation with him. Jack is worried of his legacy. He is in the twilight of his days. He used to make the culture. Now he is drowning in it. He needs a miracle. Another Baby Jane. Bob says it is called, Whatever Happened to Cousin Charlotte?, the original title of Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Bob is completely against using Crawford but Jack insists. And everyone will be taking pay cuts. It may be Jack’s twilight, but it is midnight for the rest of them according to Jack. And so the movie begins out of sheer desperation from a whole lot of folks to be remembered for something great.
Bette and Joan both refuse the movie, passionately. The hate between the two is epic. Of course they agree. Bette demands top billing and the role of the sane one and creative control. Joan demands a big signing bonus. Bob goes to Jack to say he is shopping his film to other studios. In fact, he has signed an agreement with another studio where he is a full partner with complete control over the film. You go Bob. Way to take your balls back. I do indeed hear them clanking.
Joan has bigger problems. She heads off to see an elderly gentleman named Hal who works the front desk of a hotel. Apparently, he’s her porn co-star. Wait, no he is not! He’s her own brother out to ruin her career. That’s low. And kind of sick. Is any of this true? Or just salacious misdirection by Murphy?
I have no idea why Joan overdressed for table read and brought Mamacita, but I am glad she did. Joan tells Bette that she is sorry if what happened on Oscar night offended her. Bette is beyond half-assed apologies and has some well thought out plans for herself. They begin with Joan agreeing to present herself as a united front with Bette for the purposes of negotiation. Let’s just see how that goes.
At the table read, it becomes obvious that Joan has dressed for a photo shoot for Pepsi as the cameras start clicking while Joan turns the bottle to be sure the label is readable. Between Joan’s mutterings about punctuation and mugging for the photographer and Bob’s refusal to make the script changes she demanded, including the title of the film, Bette walks out on the table read. Joan offers to read both parts.
It seems brother Hal is in the hospital in need of an appendectomy. I’ve never heard of old people needing an appendectomy. Especially if it is not done immediately due to a rupture. Hal is just lying there feeling well enough to mock Joan for the movie which is apparently being shopped as Velvet Lips and reminding her that he was their mother’s golden child everyone loved while she was the runt of the litter no one wanted. This was after she handed him an envelope holding her cash advance for Charlotte. The siblings have a brutal fight where Hal says the money is repayment for the brutal treatment of their mother by Joan. The doctor and the nurse come to take a seemingly vital Hal off to the OR in a wheelchair. As they roll him off, Joan asks for the film. Hal replies, “There is no film, you said so yourself!” Poor Joan, tricked again.
Poor Bob isn’t having an easier time of it either. The night before he is supposed to leave to start shooting the film in Louisiana, his wife tells him she is not going with him and she wants a divorce. She’s not quite as naïve about Bob as I once thought.
Joan’s day gets even worse when she arrives home with pantyhose for the twins because they were starting to look like overgrown toddlers in white tights, only to have Mamacita tell her that Hal died in the operation when his appendix exploded. This would not have happened if they had listened to me and taken him right in for surgery rather than letting him lounge around on a ward filled with sick people and argue with his sister. The first thing I think of is the envelope full of money. Joan should prance right to the hospital and demand his belongings. Instead, she pours herself a drink. Mamacita says, “Sometimes when the emotions are too many, we cannot cry.” Then she makes a phone call. Actually, the payment to Hal was by check. She calls her accountant and has the check cancelled effective first thing in the morning. That works too. I do not get why this reaction is the least bit shocking to Mamacita, who has lived with Joan for ages. But it is. Mamacita should have written a book. Mamacita says the good news is she doesn’t need the movie anymore to pay off Hal. She can quit. She says the movie is going to ruin Joan. Joan says if she is not working, she might as well be dead. Joan tells Mamacita to get some sleep, it’s a long flight to Baton Rouge.
In Baton Rouge, Bette is not happy with her camera angles and is worried about looking old. She runs off to find Bob to complain but when she finds him he is in the yard crying. He can’t go on with the picture because he is so distraught that his wife is leaving him. Bette give him a pep talk. Oddly at the same time this show was airing another 24 year-long marriage was ending on American Crime.
Meanwhile, Joan and Mamacita have landed in Baton Rouge but there is no one there to pick them up. I am distracted by the old-fashioned make-up kit. I start to daydream about getting one of those to store my makeup in now. I rarely ever where it and I think it would be a good way to keep everything together so I don’t keep buying the same thing over and over every six months or so when I decide to actually wear makeup out to dinner. Lord only knows how many eyebrow pencils and lipsticks are in those pretty baskets in the bathroom closet I never bother to peep into. Sorry. This episode seems very long to me. It’s almost at its merciful end. Let me finish this.
Somehow Mamacita manages to get them to the hotel a great deal worse for wear, and with her own makeup kit in tow. At the front desk however, they are having issues checking in. Mamacita quickly assesses that Bette is behind all of their issues. Joan calls the director only to him Bette in his room frolicking with him. She tells him to hang up because the champagne is going flat. Bob sure did recover quickly, didn’t he? Bette’s crafty plan seems to be going quite well.
Next week: Things get worse for Joan. She appears to take ill during production. That doesn’t bode well for her. However, things will be even worse for me. Joan throws another vase of followers at Mamacita’s head and she will likely keep her promise to quit. DAMMIT!