Monday, March 27, 2017

Last Night, On "Feud--Bette And Joan," It Was The Robert Aldrich- Pauline Jameson Show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                True to the series' now established structural pattern, two players stepped into the spotlight, in last evening's episode of "Feud--Bette and Joan."  They were Alfred Molina, already giving a splendid characterization of Robert Aldrich, but digging deeper into his troubled character, and Pauline Jameson, brilliantly played by Alison Wright, who was Aldrich's production assistant on "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?"

                                 Now, just who is this woman?  Did she even exist?  Or is she just written in to cue in the feminist agenda about lack of opportunity for women in the film industry, back then--and some would say, today? MERYL STREEP, aside.

                                 Pauline has aspirations of writing and directing.  She has concocted a screenplay, something called "The Black Slipper," for Joan Crawford. And she wants to direct it.  This girl does have ambition, but, in this time period, is she kidding?  Plus, as Jessica Lange's Joan tells her, harshly, but truthfully, she is "a nobody."

                                  But Alison Wright hits all the marks in her Pauline portrayal, scoring on all the points the writers wanted to make.

                                   Each character has their own tete a tete.  Wright's Pauline is with Lange's Joan; Molina's Aldrich is with Stanley Tucci's Jack Warner.

                                     Though Robert Aldrich's resume is impressive, like Pauline, he saw himself as something more than what he was.  As astute as Joan, Warner realizes Aldrich's limitations.  But Frank Sinatra, in "4 For Texas?"  What a comedown for Aldrich, and Sinatra, who after all, was Oscared for "From Here To Eternity," back in 1953.

                                       When Aldrich asked Warner, point blankly, if he was destined for greatness, and Warner said, bluntly, "No!," it was heartbreaking to watch; almost anyone in the arts would get the poignancy of this moment.  But what neither realized was greatness sometimes has a way of writing itself, and the longevity of 'Baby Jane' proves Aldrich's stature was more than was thought, even if he did not realize that this would be the masterpiece he would always be remembered for. And still is.

                                           Who the hell was the actual production assistant on 'Baby Jane?'  Does anybody care?  Not really, though Molina and Wright made viewers care about these two lesser characters; one rather minor.

                                             I will end on a footnote, darlings.  Robert Aldrich thought he was going nowhere.  On this picture, he had a man working for him as a "dialogue supervisor."  He turned out to be a Robert, who did go somewhere.

                                              His last name was..........Altman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Videolaman said...

That script title was "The Black Slipper", RQ :-)

Pauline Jameson was in fact an actual person, and did in fact assist Aldrich at several points in his career, including Baby Jane. But she was apparently satisfied with pursuing her primary career as an actress, at which she was moderately successful until her death in 2007, and did not make any attempts to break the glass ceiling as a producer, writer or director.

Alison Wright has alluded to the fact her character is the only one in the "Feud" ensemble that was almost entirely fictionalized for dramatic purposes, as a lever of insight and secondary emphasis of the subtext (that even huge stars like Davis and Crawford were victimized by sexism and studio manipulation). While Alison herself has way too much class to to ever blow her own horn, I believe she was cast in this role (and the role significantly expanded for her) simply because Ryan Murphy admired her excellent work in other projects, most notably as the tragic dupe Martha in the FX spy series "The Americans". Alison imbued Martha with an unexpected complexity: the woman was no simpleton, but was victimized by a delusion she desperately wanted to believe was real. After that tour de force, only an idiot would cast Wright in a throwaway role.

In the latest episode of "The Americans", fans were treated to a delightful Easter Egg shot of Martha disgustedly shopping for food at a run-down Moscow supermarket, and the internet exploded with relief that her character had not been murdered two years ago by the KGB after all, but had truly been exfiltrated to Russia, and was making the best of it as a survivor. Everyone is hoping Martha will somehow get at least a little story closure as the series winds down its run.

The Raving Queen said...

Thanks so much for clarifying the film's title;
I will fix it right away. I knew about Pauline's
work as an actress--she was in Garland's last film, "I
Could Go On Singing," but I could not find her name
among the IMDB credits.

And this was the first I knew about Altman!