When you think of film moments that really scared you as a child, what comes to mind?
For me, it was a dark, stormy night one winter when I watched the Hollywood classic film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
The defining moment was when Davis presented Crawford with a handsome silver dish at dinner time. When the lid was lifted, on the platter was the largest, ugliest rat I had ever seen. To this day I still shudder when I recall it, but it didn’t stop me being fascinated by the film and watching it through to the end.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? provides the setting for a new Foxtel series that explores the enmity between these two Hollywood screen queens. Appropriately called FEUD: Betty and Joan, it promises to be riveting viewing.
While our finer feelings should tell us not to indulge in watching people rage at each other, the truth is that we are all human, and sometimes we need a little harmless guilty pleasure like watching a retelling of one of Hollywood’s greatest feuds.
With the current reality of American politics giving us what might be termed a real horror show, somehow watching fictional characters behaving badly doesn’t seem so…well, bad.
FEUD: Bette and Joan features stellar casting, with Jessica Lange, of King Kong and Tootsie fame, as Crawford, while her nemesis Davis is played by Susan Sarandon (remember Thelma and Louise, and countless other hits that followed?), so the show should be worth watching just for these two.
But the star casting doesn’t stop there—Australian Judy Davis plays Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, Catherine Zeta-Jones is Olivia de Havilland and Kathy Bates is Joan Blondell with Alfred Molina as Robert Aldrich and Stanley Tucci as Jack L. Warner.
If we browse the Bible, there are plenty of examples of human behaviour at its worst, but, often, it’s balanced by instructions on how we should act as Christians.
Take Paul’s words to the early Christians, which seem particularly apt for the relationship between Crawford and Davis—“We used to be stupid, disobedient, and foolish, as well as slaves of all sorts of desires and pleasures. We were evil and jealous. Everyone hated us, and we hated everyone” (Titus chapter 3, verse 3).
But rather than copy the bad behaviour of these two stars, we might heed the next piece of advice Paul delivers—“Be gentle and kind to everyone. God our saviour showed us how good and kind he is” (Titus chapter 3, verses 2 and 4).
While we might enjoy the occasional spat between characters on screen, it’s important to remember Jesus’ example and resist this kind of behaviour in real life. After all, unlike fiction, reality has a tendency to bite back.
FEUD: Bette and Joan screens on 12 March.