As a longtime fan of the cult classic movie, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, I'm eagerly anticipating every salacious moment of Ryan Murphy's new show, Feud. Exploring the notorious rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, the show looks full of campy intrigue, heartbreak, and dark humor. So, it comes as little surprise that the visuals and music in the Feud opening credits also perfectly reflect those elements too.
Featuring a visual sequence that pays homage to the celebrated style of legendary animator Saul Bass (whose work you might know from the credits of Psycho and Vertigo), the Feud opening credits are gloriously vintage. But, it's the Feud opening credits theme which truly brings the sequence to life, channeling a specific feel of 1960s' cinema that recalls the work of Bernard Herrmann (the genius behind the violent strings of Psycho's main theme, and the brooding noir of the Taxi Driver soundtrack).
Composed by Mac Quayle, the Feud theme evokes the compelling atmosphere of classic Hollywood mysteries, thrillers, horrors, and noir of mid-century cinema. By doing so, the Feud opening credits sequence isn't just positioning the show within the period time frame that the true story is set, but is also positioning the drama of the tale within various dark genres of cinema from the time.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, executive producer, Alexis Martin Woodall, explained how the Feud credit sequence was designed to be "very much time and place," saying of the theme song, "We wanted to honor what the music and the score of that time felt like, and give it a little bit of a noir feel, and a jazzy feel." Well, mission achieved, guys. It's an absolute dream.
Within the execution of the theme song alone, it's easy to hear a musical interpretation of the real-life, Hollywood horrors that Feud looks set to explore. On the one hand, the famed antagonism between Crawford and Davis may seem like a horrifying enough tale for any show to dramatize. But, by delving deeper into the ageism, sexism, and industry misogyny that the two actors faced in the twilight of their incredible careers, Feud is scratching beneath the surface of that horror to reveal the true monster of the tale: the institutionalized prejudices of the Hollywood system.
As reported by Variety, Murphy explained that within the process of making Feud, he found one idea "really interesting to explore was the idea of what a tragedy the last 15 years was in the lives of these women and how they deserved so much more." And that level of tragedy is startlingly clear within the music of the opening credits of the show.
Beautiful yet severe, epic yet nuanced, tragic and foreboding: The Feud theme encompasses a great deal of what is compelling about Davis and Crawford's respective stories, as well as the one they shared together. And it looks like something that Feud has managed to recreate in the best way.
Feud premieres on FX on Sunday, March 5.