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Feud - And the Winner is... - Review: "The Shadiest Moment Yet"

3 Apr 2017

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1963 may be the year of JFK's assassination. It is also the monumental year in which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Last night, Feud however reminded us that amongst the political climate of '63, there was one other dramatic and damaging event; the Academy Awards. Featuring one of history's most shadiest of moments, this week's episode was a winner! *pun intended*

Episode Five of the FX's anthology gave viewers the lead up to (and main event) the Oscars. It was an episode filled with leading ladies, fantastic cinematography and yet more heartbreaking moments featuring both ladies. Where to begin?

Anyone who was already a fan of the feud between Crawford and Davis would likely know about the (rumoured, as far as I'm aware) efforts that the former went to in order to fight back at Davis for receiving the only Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Oscar nomination. Seriously though, why weren't both ladies nominated? Back to Crawford's lack of nomination though: the leading lady schemed to trash Davis' reputation and scouted the other nominations for Best Actress, so she could accept the award on their behalf. It was all very petty but entertaining, and to see a woman go to such lengths to get back at Davis is very sad. The episode's final scene showed Crawford sitting beside the Oscar she had picked up for winner Anne Bancroft, and I think, finally she had realised it didn't mean she had won. Ultimately, Davis won - if this is a competition between the pair. She was the one nominated, yes she didn't win, but Crawford failed to secure even a nomination. Crawford highlighted this week that a feud, of any kind, consumes a person. It reminds me of when people say it's much easier to hate someone than to love them. Hate and revenge literally consumed Crawford and essentially made her look ridiculous, petty and even more desperately fading in front of the entire nation.

So did Crawford go to such lengths? Well, we won't ever know for sure but a number of sources claim she did. I mean, it's not hard to believe; a desperate, fading Hollywood star on the cusp of watching her long-time rival scoop the award she had eyed-up herself! Davis often stated her belief that her rival did campaign against her, though whether this is just out of spite and in an attempt to soften the blow of why she herself didn't win - we'll never know, sadly! Geraldine Paige later confirmed that Crawford did poach her. Played by Sarah Paulson last night, the actress admitted that she was both in awe but slightly intimated by Crawford over the phone. Somewhat pressured but thankful for Crawford's offer to accept the award, should she win, Page explained: “when she mentioned about accepting the Oscar for me if I won, I said yes. Actually I was relieved. That meant I wouldn’t have to fly all the way to California, or spend a lot of time looking for a new dress to wear. I was happy and honored that Joan Crawford would be doing all of that for me.” Crawford was one shady, shady bitch indeed!

Another aspect of last night's episode which struck me as needing research was the choice to position both Crawford and Davis in the wings of the stage as the winner was announced. If seemed unlikely yet obviously made fantastic television for us viewers last night. I was convinced this wouldn't have happened, and upon doing some research it seems I was possibly right. Sources don't seem to agree on whether the women remained in their respective dressing-rooms for the announcement or whether they both made their way to the wings of the stage, Whichever the case, Oscar's director in 1963 even claimed that he considered placing cameras backstage to capture the moment but felt it was too "cruel" a move (this in itself does suggest that Davis at least was at the side of the stage ready). Although it would have made incredible viewing, I happen to side with Richard Dunlap - imagine the added humiliation to Davis had this happened! Susan Sarandon gave such heart to Davis against last night, particularly when she lost, and I keep feeling terribly for the leading lady. She deserved that Oscar and it was most certainly her final shot at winning one - sadly though it wasn't to be!

Aside from our two leading ladies, Catherine Zeta-Jones was incredible this week as Davis' bestie Olivia de Havilland. She oozes with class, and for a girl from Wales (she makes me proud to be Welsh!), she's remarkably talented at pulling off an American accent! Again, it was wonderful to be given a glimpse into another Hollywood feud, and to see another woman be so caught up in the system. In many ways, two sisters pitted against each other seems even more awful than Crawford versus Davis (though de Havilland and Fontaine were perhaps not so much "pitted" against one another but rather simply disliked each other). I would definitely recommend having a read online about de Havilland and her sister Joan Fontaine's feud - just in case Murphy doesn't take it on in say season three of this anthology!

Interestingly, I originally suspected that the show wouldn't deal with the 1963 Academy Awards until later in the season, as to me its the height and the juiciest part of the feud - at least that I am aware of. It makes me wonder what the show has next for us? The aftermath is likely to be dramatic but very heartbreaking. We're about to see two leading ladies continue to suffer the perils of age and gender in Hollywood, as they remain desperate, unappreciated but remarkably talented. We need more stars like Crawford and Davis - the class, the drama, the movies! Everyone was hyped about Brie Larson snubbing Casey Affleck this year and whilst she may be justified in her dramatic television move, I can't help but long for the sheer elegance yet bitterness of shit that went down in 1963! Bring it all back...and next Sunday we will, with episode six of Feud. See you then!