Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My Review of Feud: Bette And Joan's: "Hagsploitation"

Written by Tim Minear & Gina Welch
Directed by Tim Minear

Jack L. Warner (to Aldrich, re Bette/Joan): "If you think it's Twilight for us, it is Midnight for them."

Much as I do loathe the Jack Warners of the world, there's no denying that his words, unpleasant as they were also happened to be true. All of them needed another big hit on their hands. Warner and Aldrich needed a hit. Joan wanted another movie that could give her proper buzz and Bette probably wanted more than television spot.

The answer to all their possible problems - a movie called Whatever Happened To Cousin Charlotte (later named Sweet Charlotte) following into a genre that goes by the unflattering name of hagsploitation, which Jack seemed taken with as it meant that he could 'degrade' actresses on their last line, career wise.

Getting both Joan and Bette to agree to the project was down to Aldrich, who had to persuade both of them to put their differences aside to work with each other again while also making their own demands (Bette wanted some creative control, Joan to be paid upfront). Aldrich also later made some of his own demands to Warner while his marriage to Harriet was falling apart behind the scenes during this episode as well.

Of course when Joan wasn't working on this new project with Bette and trying to present  united front with her rival (half assed Oscar apology, matches as a symbolic gesture), she also had two other plotlines in an episode that was heavily focused on her.

First of all we saw her on the road promoting her movie, Strait Jacket with the director William Castle, which was a fun way of opening the episode and then there was the threat of a sex tape that her brother Hal was threatening to leak. The latter gave us more of an insight into Joan's family history while also revealing that the tape wasn't real.

Another interesting point of this episode was seeing the cracks in Joan's relationship with Mamacita as well. The latter has always been Joan's only real ally (especially as Hedda showed her true colours this week) but even her limits were tested this week when she threatened to leave Joan if the latter threw anything else at her head again. Going by next week, it seems she'll make good on that threat too.

- Having John Walters as William Castle was a nice bit of guest casting. Murphy managed to keep that one under his hat.
- Hedda was dying in this episode and even then the episode managed to make her horrible as possible. It was nice to see Pauline and Victor Buono again though.
- If you want to know more about the genre of Hagsploitation, here you go ....
- Chronology: 1964 going by the release of Joan's movie and production on Sweet Charlotte.

Hagsploitation was another suitably strong episode. As the series comes closer to it's end along with both Bette and Joan's careers on the decline, this episode showed the desperation from both to have another major hit but history shows us, only one of them stuck out their would be second venture together.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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