In episode 2 of Feud, The Other Woman, we saw how Hollywood conspired against Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, making this feud boil over.
At the outset of the episode, the two actresses join forces to oust the very young starlet who has been hired to play their neighbor. The pact, however, is short lived, not for any lack of trying, but because of the outside forces that intend to make What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? a hit by capitalizing on the animosity between the two actresses. The studio had developed an entire public relations campaign around the simmering feud, and they put pressure on Director Bob Aldrich to play up the friction, even if he needs to manufacture the drama.
Appearing again in episode 2 are Catherine Zita-Jones as Olivia de Havilland and Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell. Their characters are there to provide exposition, and in this episode they tell the back story of the feud, as flashback scenes show how the Baby Jane PR strategy is nothing new. The studios have been pitting Crawford and Davis against each other for 20 years.
And so, 2-decades into the feud, it is Aldrich who is used by the studio to help generate buzz. Warner instructs the director that he will give the film a wide release, but only if Bob can ensure the animosity on set continues – “You got to keep them at each other’s throats,” explains Warner. It’s that animosity that will fill theatres. The director caves, and soon he is offering up blind items to Hedda Hopper. Those blind items inevitably fan the flames between the two actresses and what small chance the two had at keeping the truce that we saw at the beginning of the episode is over. The tension between them explodes and they are soon offering up gossip and sound bites themselves.
Elsewhere we get a glimpse into the private lives of both Joan and Bette, who each have their own reasons for ensuring that the film is a success. In a scene between Joan and Hedda we learn that Joan is broke. Thanks to her late husband – Pepsi mogul Alfred Steele – she is $2 Million dollars in debt and needs this film to be a hit.
Bette, meanwhile, is having turmoil at home with her daughter, B.D. On set, the young girl is getting far too much attention from the crew, and Bette is concerned. When Bette brings this up, B.D. lashes out, claiming that Bette is just jealous. Maybe jealousy has something to do with it, but it’s probably more likely that Bette is just concerned that her daughter is being put in a vulnerable position. Either way, Bette needs the film to be successful to show that she is desirable in Hollywood again.
Feud: Bette and Joan airs Sunday nights at 10pm on FX. Join The Game of Nerds on Twitter for livetweets at 10pm PST, and look for Sara’s re-caps every week during the season!