The new television series Feud, starring Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford, follows Davis and Crawford as they fight while on the set of the iconic thriller Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The series also widens to examine the historical context of Davis and Crawford's professional and personal lives. That means Crawford's notoriously abusive relationship with her daughter Christina Crawford, depicted in Christina's memoir Mommie Dearest and subsequent film of the same name, will likely play a role. The story told in Mommie Dearest offers details about who Joan was, and there are quotes from Mommie Dearest that add insight to Feud.
Christina's memories of being verbally and emotionally abused by her mother Joan form the story of Mommie Dearest, which covers a large portion of Crawford's later life, including the time that she spent filming Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? As shown in the story, Joan displayed narcissistic, controlling, perfectionist behavior, and demanded that Christina behave perfectly at all times. When her career suffered, due to many reasons including her difficult personality, Joan allegedly behaved even more abusively toward Christina, whom she adopted even after being initially rejected by adoption agencies. If you're fascinated by Feud and want to know more about the duo's relationship, Mommie Dearest can offer some of that insight.
1"Why can't you give me the respect that I'm entitled to? Why can't you treat me like I would be treated by any stranger on the street?"
Joan demands this of her daughter Christina, right before Christina responds with a famous quote from the movie: "I'm not one of your fans!" Joan is shown as being narcissistic and controlling, and wanted to be adored and treated with deference at all times. In the movie, it's implied that she didn't have familiar love or compassion for Christina, and did not take care of her as a mother should take care of a child.
2"This ain't my first time at the rodeo."
Joan says this in a Pepsi board meeting after the death of her fourth husband Al, who was CEO of Pepsi. She bullies and threatens Pepsi if they refuse to allow her to remain on the Board of Directors after his death, and they acquiesce.
3"Ah, but nobody ever said life was fair, Tina. I'm bigger and I'm faster. I will always beat you."
Joan says this to young daughter Christina after she gleefully beats her in a swimming race in their pool. Christina is upset and Joan verbally berates her and locks her in the pool house.
4"Box office poison! Box office poison!"
In this scene, Joan is outraged that she has been let go from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer because of poorly performing movies and extremely difficult behavior. In a rage over this terrible moment in her career, she chops up her rose garden with gardening shears and an axe.
5"No wire hangers!"
In perhaps the most infamous scene from Mommie Dearest, Joan screams at Christina for hanging a dress on a wire hanger, destroys Christina's room, and beats her with the hanger. It's one of many scenes of horrific abuse.
6"It's not good!"
In Mommie Dearest, Joan screams this about a script that she's been presented with. It's both another showcase of her anger and rage problems, as well as an example of the frustrations Joan, and many other aging female Hollywood actors, faced as they struggled to find work.
7"I would rather be here with you than anywhere else in the world...I love you all."
Joan gives this speech to her adoring fans on the lawn of her house on Oscar night, after winning an Academy Award. Joan was obsessed with her fans, and with being adored.
Watching Mommie Dearest will definitely help add context to Feud.