Feud: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Greg » Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:16 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Travel between NY and LA was considerably more taxing at that point -- jet travel, unbelievable as it may sound, was only a few years old then -- and many non-Angelenos opted to pass on the Oscars over the next decade or so (there were absent winners almost every year into the 70s).


Does this mean, for example, that people who lived in Los Angeles and read the New York Times would have to wait until it was a day or two old?
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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Apr 06, 2017 1:01 pm

So, since this episode is the one that got me to watch the show (and apparently was Murphy's inspiration), some comments:

The 1962 (not 1963, as Feud annoyingly called it) show holds special meaning for me, as it was the first time I saw the Oscars. I recall the winners vividly (especially the ones I'd seen: The Miracle Worker, The Music Man, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm), but was of course unaware of the behind-the-scenes machinations that Damien & Mason recounted which are now general knowledge. I don't recall any of the NY papers making much of the Crawford appearance -- the headline on the next morning's Daily News was simply "Peck, Bancroft Win Top Oscars". But in those days there was a significant gap between NY and Hollywood thinking -- as witness the Cliff Robertson win six years later, something no one in NY expected, but which was apparently a popular choice in LA. I assume Crawford probably ruled in the LA press.

This NY/Hollywood gap also helps explain the decisions by both Page and Bancroft not to show up for the show that year. Travel between NY and LA was considerably more taxing at that point -- jet travel, unbelievable as it may sound, was only a few years old then -- and many non-Angelenos opted to pass on the Oscars over the next decade or so (there were absent winners almost every year into the 70s). I think the show took liberties in assuming Page and Bancroft were somehow pleased to have Crawford stand in for them (I was OK with them seeing through her ploy, but having them seem to support her as a woman wronged felt over the line -- might at least one of them have empathized with the Bette Davis side of the argument?). But having them agree to avoid the hoo-ha of Oscar night was perfectly believable, to me.

It's always been difficult for me to believe Davis expected to win for such an outre performance -- especially with Page and Bancroft up for more traditional work (in an era when stage adaptations had won quite a few acting Oscars). (I exclude Hepburn because Long Day's Journey, with its sole nomination, was less an overall contender than Miracle Worker or Sweet Bird.) I assume the fact that NY Critics -- thanks to the newspaper strike -- hadn't voted that year left the field more wide-open than usual, and Hollywood loyalty, which had two years earlier got Elizabeth Taylor that ridiculous award, was thought to be asserting itself. I'm just saying, Bancroft or Page seem far more logical winners by prevailing standards, and Davis might have set herself up for her crushing disappointment.

(Side note: It also seemed silly that the race for best picture was characterized as between Lawrence and The Music Man, since the latter had neither director nor screenplay nods. Lawrence was probably the runaway winner, but if anything was its competition, it was Mockingbird.)

I have to say that, while I knew the details of the whole best actress thing from Inside Oscar, seeing it all staged did bring it home more emphatically: watching Crawford take over the evening was a sight to behold. You had to love that moment when the paparazzi asked if Joan would pose with "the other winners". Which even made sense, since Crawford was the biggest star of the group (Gregory Peck the only one close to her in fame). But clearly that would have rankled Davis.

One quibble: for a show that otherwise went all-in for verisimilitude -- every element of the Oscar re-creation is detail-for-detail, right down to the music cues -- it felt insulting to pretend a random movie marquee was the Martin Beck Theatre. The same was true when they showed the theatre where Davis was performing Night of the Iguana -- has no one on Murphy's team been east of the Rockies? The Martin Beck facade hasn't changed since I saw Man of La Mancha there only a few years after Mother Courage played (and certainly not since the years I hung around there while my wife did Grand Hotel). It would have been the simplest thing in the world to send a second-unit to shoot it and photo-shop in Mother Courage. Why such slovenliness on this one detail?

Oh, and, Catherine Zeta-Jones has never been my idea of an actress, but, as others have said, asking her to play the delicate/restrained de Havilland is monumental miscasting.

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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:59 am

The Original BJ wrote:One thing that has continually struck me as off throughout the series -- and perhaps some of the older board members can testify to this -- is the way the characters talk about the Oscars. The most recent episode wasn't an offender in this regard -- obviously Crawford's antics in the days leading up to and on Oscar night have been well documented. But conversations like the one where Davis and Crawford discussed who might "go supporting," or where the characters have had fairly detailed discussions about Oscar races, struck me like an imposition of a 21st century mindset on history. Obviously the Oscars were a big deal in Hollywood even then, but the entire industry of year-long strategizing and prognosticating feels like a much newer thing, at least based on my (secondhand) knowledge of the subject.

Oh, and what award was Marilyn Monroe accepting in the opening of the first episode? It's captioned as the 1961 Golden Globe Awards, but Monroe didn't win a prize at that ceremony (at least if we're referring to them by ceremony date, as the show refers to the 1963 Oscars). And if it was the calendar year 1961 ceremony (held in 1962), where Monroe won the World Film Favorite Award, why did the character say that she didn't expect it? Wasn't this a special award she would have known about in advance?


Last question first.

I don't have any first-hand knowledge of the 1961 Golden Globes, the nominations for which were announced in late January, 1962 and presented in March, 1962, televised on a local L.A. channel only. World Film Favorite was not a competitive award and would likely have been announced prior to the ceremony in the hope that the male and female winners (Charlton Heston and Monroe) would show up. The 1962 Golden Globe nominations were announced in late January, 1963 and awarded in early March, 1973, and again televised on a local on a local L.A. channel.

The release of Baby Jane:

This I remember vividly as I was going to school and working afternoons and evenings at my local theatre, the 3,000 seat Century Queens which played the same films as the RKO chain in other parts of NYC. It was a big deal. The film was heavily publicized, but not as shown in the mini-series.

Films in those days were still being released to one or two theatres in New York, L.A. and major cities before branching out. That began to change with the release of Dr. No in time for Memorial Day, 1963. In November, 1962 it was still a rare thing. The studios would occasionally dump a perceived flop into mass release, but never a major film. Maybe that's why the critics were wont to put it down. Bosley Crowther's N.Y. Times review was not as the mini-series infers, complimentary toward Davis and not Crawford. In fact, he was mean to them both, even more so to Davis.

The film opened for an 8-day run, as opposed to the usual 7-day run for a mass release. It opened on Election Day, which was a holiday in New York, to lines around the block at every showing at every theatre. It was anticipated as an old biddies version of Psycho, but instead brought new respect for both Davis and Crawford. After 8 days, though, it was gone, moving on to second and third tier theatres and showing up again in re-release at Oscar time as was the general practice of the day. There was no further promotion, so I have no idea what that scene between Warner and Crawford was all about.

It's also not true that Davis avoided the film's preview by going home to Connecticut or whatever the teleplay had her doing while Crawford soldiered on in San Pedro or Long Branch. Davis and Rosalind Russell were sent by Warner on a joint promotion tour via train to NYC to promote both Baby Jane and Gypsy, which opened at Radio City Music Hall the previous Thursday. Their arrival at Grand Central Station together was heavily photographed. Davis made live appearances introducing her film at twenty RKO theatres, seven on Tuesday, six on Wednesday and seven on Thursday. You can see the ad for this in the New York Times for Monday, 11/5/1962.

Oscar talk for Davis was immediate. No one considered Crawford, except as an also-ran, but the competition was unusually strong that year with Anne Bancroft, Geraldine Page (who won the Globe), Katharine Hepburn (who won at Cannes) and Russell (who also won a Globe) also in the conversation. Lee Remick was a late bloomer. With no New York Film Critics Award that year due to a prolonged newspaper strike, there wasn't the guidance that their award usually brought.

As for the nonsensical "might go supporting" conversation, that obviously never happened. It wouldn't have in any case, but certainly not with those two super-egos. I doubt very much that the scene at the end of episode 4 actually happened either. Crawford, shut out of a Golden Globe nomination, had no reason to expect she would be nominated and a Davis nomination at that point was pretty much a foregone conclusion. She might have been pissed, but she wouldn't have screamed "no" at the top of her lungs.

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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:12 am

Big Magilla wrote:Sounds like a great way to spend a day.

Could Setsuko Hara be buried under her birth name of Masae Aida?


Could be but I couldn't find anything on the internet. It may be one of those things that may take years to come to light.
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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:05 am

Sounds like a great way to spend a day.

Could Setsuko Hara be buried under her birth name of Masae Aida?

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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Apr 03, 2017 6:45 am

Big Magilla wrote:Bill Condon also mentions Damien in his new Criterion Top 10 list.

https://www.criterion.com/explore/307-b ... n-s-top-10

No. 7
Make Way for Tomorrow
Leo McCarey
This film was a favorite of my late friend Damien Bona, and always reminds me of him. A humanist classic, it inspired another classic, Ozu’s Tokyo Story.


I'm actually in Tokyo at the moment and spent the day at Karamkura where Ozu filmed most of his films. Also, paid a visit to his grave.

It's a beautiful area that has not suffered from much modern development. Walking around the streets and along the railway line I felt very in Ozu's world.

Wasn't able to locate any grave site for Ozu's favourite leading lady Setsuko Hara who passed away in 2015. After Ozu's death she retired and became a recluse living out the rest of her life in Karamkura. She was also a shameful omission on the Academy's In-Memoriam section last year.
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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Aceisgreat » Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:11 am

Although she'll probably be overlooked for any supporting actress nominations in favor of Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper or Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell or Catherine Zeta-Jones (who I agree was absolutely miscast) as Olivia de Havilland, Jackie Hoffman as Crawford's maid Mamacita is giving me life, especially in her "women will outnumber men" speech.
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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:46 am

The thing I find the most interesting about Feud is its self-conscious awareness of the camp legacy that Davis and Crawford left behind them. I guess I haven't found this in and of itself campy -- though there have been a few moments where the series has pushed into that territory -- but then, I don't view What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? as all that campy either, at least if I'm applying Susan Sontag's "failed seriousness" rubric. (There are certainly some other Davis and Crawford movies that obviously get there, like Beyond the Forest, or -- and I may be risking some umbrage here -- Johnny Guitar.)

A good example of this was the first scene in the third episode, when Joan is writing the card to Christina, and she takes a pause before signing her name. The show seems to really lay on our knowledge of what was to come in Crawford's legacy -- you realize instantly she's going to sign her name "Mommie Dearest" before she does -- but then the rest of the episode is essentially a deconstruction of the Crawford mother myth, grounding it in a more substantive manner than we'd seen before.

And the performance style actually plays into this as well, because neither Sarandon or Lange seem to be striving for mimicry-based imitation (i.e. the providence of the female impersonators Bette Davis refers to in one episode), so much as a grounded take on what these women might actually have been like. Sarandon, for instance, doesn't much sound like Davis, but she's clearly studied the way she moved and carried herself, because that strikes me as spot on. And in tonight's episode, Sarah Paulson had the unenviable task of capturing an actress as mannered as Geraldine Page without resorting to over the top tics, and I'd say she hit the sweet spot pretty well. And the men (Molina and Tucci) are dependably strong as always -- I was pleased to see Molina get such a good showcase episode last week, chronicling the frustrations of a yeoman director wishing he could prove he was something greater.

The one performance that really isn't working for me at all is Catherine Zeta-Jones, though this stems a lot from bad casting as much as anything -- I'm not sure why you'd cast someone with Zeta-Jones's persona (a carnal diva) as the waifish, virginal Olivia de Havilland, particularly when Zeta-Jones has yet to show much ability to stretch beyond the one type she's played most often in her career. (And this is all compounded by the fact that the 1978 sequences feel like utterly superfluous exposition feeders.)

One thing that has continually struck me as off throughout the series -- and perhaps some of the older board members can testify to this -- is the way the characters talk about the Oscars. The most recent episode wasn't an offender in this regard -- obviously Crawford's antics in the days leading up to and on Oscar night have been well documented. But conversations like the one where Davis and Crawford discussed who might "go supporting," or where the characters have had fairly detailed discussions about Oscar races, struck me like an imposition of a 21st century mindset on history. Obviously the Oscars were a big deal in Hollywood even then, but the entire industry of year-long strategizing and prognosticating feels like a much newer thing, at least based on my (secondhand) knowledge of the subject.

Oh, and what award was Marilyn Monroe accepting in the opening of the first episode? It's captioned as the 1961 Golden Globe Awards, but Monroe didn't win a prize at that ceremony (at least if we're referring to them by ceremony date, as the show refers to the 1963 Oscars). And if it was the calendar year 1961 ceremony (held in 1962), where Monroe won the World Film Favorite Award, why did the character say that she didn't expect it? Wasn't this a special award she would have known about in advance?

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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby FilmFan720 » Sun Apr 02, 2017 9:28 pm

What a wonderful quote to read.

Just got back from Spring Break vacation, so we are behind on the show, but enjoying it enough. The acting is superb, and while I struggle with Murphy when he leans too far into the grotesque, this mostly keeps everything with an honest undertone that keeps me riveted. I'm sure I'll have more to say when I am caught up.
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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:10 pm

I've been surprised nobody's mentioned the show before now, since I assume at least some of us are watching it. I find it about 40% campy-trashy, but there's an underlay of substance. And the actors certainly make it worthwhile. Sarandon is on my political shit-list, probably forever, but she's doing a good job of suggesting Davis' presence without pushing the mannerisms. (I love how she calls Crawford "Lucille", with an undertone of "I didn't have to create a whole new persona to make my career happen.") Lange has some of the gorgon quality Dunaway had in Mommie Dearest, but she's pulled off a number of sympathetic moments. (Notably her matter-of-fact story of losing her virginity.) And the main guys, Alfred Molina and Stanley Tucci, are very strong.

It's so long since I first read Inside Oscar -- at the time of its publication -- that I guess I'd forgotten it was the first place I ever heard about the backstage machinations at the 1962 Oscars. So, kudos to Damien and Mason for putting this work in motion.

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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:29 pm

Bill Condon also mentions Damien in his new Criterion Top 10 list.

https://www.criterion.com/explore/307-b ... n-s-top-10

No. 7
Make Way for Tomorrow
Leo McCarey
This film was a favorite of my late friend Damien Bona, and always reminds me of him. A humanist classic, it inspired another classic, Ozu’s Tokyo Story.

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Re: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby flipp525 » Sun Apr 02, 2017 10:20 am

I saw that and wanted to run here to share with everyone too. What a wonderful tribute to Damien it shall be (this show has been terrific). Tonight's episode of Feud is the big Oscar episode with Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) accepting Anne Bancroft's Oscar for The Miracle Worker much to Bette Davis's (Susan Sarandon) chagrin. So this is pretty much must-see TV for the UAADB.

The remaining episodes of the series will focus on the fallout of the Joan's Oscar scheme as well as the troubled shooting of Hush, Hush...Sweet Charlotte.
Last edited by flipp525 on Sun Apr 02, 2017 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Feud: Ryan Murphy mentions Damien

Postby Cinemanolis » Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:08 am

From an article in Deadline, concerning the upcoming episode of "Feud" set during the 1963 Oscars

"Ryan Murphy said the idea for the episode began with his lifelong obsession with the Oscars, and especially a book called Inside Oscar written by Mason Wiley and Damien Bona (both now deceased), which goes into great juicy detail about each year’s race. Its subhead is “the unofficial history of the Oscars” because the Academy would never give them permission either. “This was always my favorite chapter of the book, which was the Joan and Bette year, because I just couldn’t believe that Joan Crawford did what she did. You know the idea that she would get permission from all those ladies to accept if they won and then would physically campaign against Bette Davis, even though it probably cost her a couple million dollars because they were profit participants in the film,” he said. It didn’t matter to her and she even showed up with Mamacita, the woman who worked for her and a lot of assistants who helped her turn the green room into her own private space, even installing a Pepsi machine because her husband had run the company and she was now on the board. “I literally had to look it up like three times to make sure that it was accurate when we started writing it, but she also literally dressed up as sort of a silver Oscar so that she could pull focus from the actual gold statuettes in case Bette Davis won,” he said incredulously."

Full article
http://deadline.com/2017/03/1963-academy-awards-ryan-murphy-feud-destroy-oscars-joan-crawford-bette-davis-1202057360/


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