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Mel Brooks and his London Stage Version of “Young Frankenstein”.

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I decided to see “Young Frankenstein” before it closed because I was enamored with the film, which I saw four times, and I think that Mel Brooks is a genius, a brilliant comic, a great writer, and a very clever film director. All that in just one small package which spells ‘MEL BROOKS’!

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Mel Brooks

Well I should have saved my money. The best thing about the Show was the Curtain.

MEL BROOKS FRONTCLOTH CURTAIN 2

Nimax Theatres Ltd., I believe, is the company that owns the Garrick Theatre.

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 The Garrick Theatre

Instead of acquiring another theatre, as they seem to do like like a baby octopus, they should spend some of their shekels on cleaning up and refurbishing the Garrick Theatre. It is a disgrace! When you sit in the dress circle you expect the seats to be comfortable. Not at the Garrick! The padding has practically worn down to the wood, and those that are in a fairly good condition are even worse, because you can finish up with a spring hallway up your arse!

Last year when I saw Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon in “The Painkiller” at the Garrick, I sat in the dress circle, maybe it could have been the same seat, and finished up with arse ache!  That was a ‘Real Painkiller’ and how appropriate! What a pun that is!

Well, things haven’t improved!

The usherettes stand at the doorway chewing gum and selling programmes, and they do not move. They’re busy talking! and talking! and talking! I think it was about the boys make-up!  They are not interested in showing you to your seat. I was told ‘Row D, Centre!’ by he or she or it. I didn’t know what it was!  All I do know is that usherettes are supposed to usher, move their arses, and take you to your seat. Not stand in the entrance talking and chewing and looking very bored. No wonder the show is coming off!  Most probably they are in the same quandary as the audience because they also don’t know where the rows are. I entered the theatre and couldn’t see a bloody thing! Remember I’m 88, no spring chicken! After stumbling around I found Row D. The aisles and quite a few seats are not numbered. Just a few have faded numbers. So you finish up counting from a number you can see to find your seat.

Nimax Theatres Ltd., do the bloody theatre up!!!

‘This is a fine start to my evening’s enjoyment’, I thought.

The Show itself was not good or really that funny. It was more like a No.1 touring version of the original West End production. In fact, I’ve seen better in the provinces. All I could think was that when Mel Brooks saw it, he quickly collected his money and caught the next plane back to the U.S.A. Very wise!

MEL BROOKS CAST PHOTO 2018-10-02_15-38-56They were the best of the bunch, and even they seemed to be tired!

 I was so disappointed with the show that I left at the Interval.

I don’t blame the cast or the production. If the seats would have been comfortable and the usherettes would have done their job, maybe I would have seen the whole show from a different prospective

But I have to blame the two usherettes and Nimax Theatres Ltd., who started it all, and got me really pissed off, and put me into such a bad mood!!!  What a disaster!!!

I haven’t talked much about the show, because truthfully  there was nothing really  much of importance to talk about.

42nd STREET DRURY LANE.

NOW “42nd. Street” at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. WOW!

That’s, what you call a Show!

I went from the ridiculous to the sublime! The show and the cast are fantastic! You just cannot fault it.

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With a cast of over 50, it is a gem and should run for years.

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I couldn’t believe that this was the same theatre that I played in when I was ‘ZEE and CO.” with Cannon and Ball when we made the T.V. Special so many, many, many years ago.

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Lulu was excellent, you couldn’t fault her.

I left the Theatre a very, very, very happy bunny!  That is what Show Business is all about!  Great Theatre! Wonderful memories of when I was working there. and seeing a wonderfully spectacular show.

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Weimar Cabaret at the Barbican

 

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Meow Meow deserves 5 Stars!  She’s beautiful, such talent and a great singer.

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Satu Vanska deserves 5 Stars! She’s also beautiful, a great violinist, musical director and she also sings! What more could you ask for?

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The Aurora Orchestra deserves 5 Stars! Their sound is unbelievable and a pleasure to hear.

Now, Barry Humphries! As Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson a brilliant star, and he has made a fortune out of being both characters. The memory of those two characters is impregnated into our minds. See Barry Humphries and you see either Dame Edna or Sir Les Patterson.

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I understand the Barbican starring Barry Humphries in Weimar Cabaret as the ‘Speaker and Voice’ because his name would sell tickets, and it is his show, but, truthfully, anyone could have done it. Every time he put his hands in his trouser pockets (which he did frequently), I expected him to adjust his ‘appendage’ a la Sir Les. At least that would have got a laugh, which we certainly didn’t get from him as a straight compere. If he hadn’t have been there it really wouldn’t have mattered. What he had to say could have been printed in the programme. Barry Humphries is a brilliant artist, but he should stick to what he, and only he, can do so brilliantly, Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson. Playing it straight as a compere is definitely a No-No!

BARRY HUMPHRIES WEIMAR CABARET

But apart from that, everything about the show was Great!, and a pleasure to watch.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Alfred Molina, a Shining Star of the First Magnitude in “Red”.

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Alfred Molina as Mark Rothko

Arriving at the Wynhams Theatre in London slightly early to see Alfred Molina in “Red”, I went into the theatre bar and sat there waiting for them to open the Dress Circle, half hour before the performance was due to  commence.                       

I was one of the first to take my seat in the centre of row E. I always try to sit in the Dress Circle because of the overall visual effect one gets of the play or musical that one is seeing at the time. You can see the piece as a whole. The curtain was already up and the set was an artist’s studio. In fact, it was the studio of Mark Rothko, the subject of the play “Red”. So I took a photo.

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Look very closely at the man sitting in a chair which is near the front of the stage with his hand on his head at the right of the picture.

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A close-up of the man sitting in the chair.

After a while looking at the set I saw that there was a man with his back to the audience sitting in a chair to the right of the front of the stage, not moving just staring at the red canvas in front of him. ‘My God!’ It was Alfred Molina! ‘No it couldn’t possibly be!’, I thought. How could he sit there for half an hour before the play even started? Most probably it was his understudy or a stage double who looked like him and when the play was about to start he would just get up and go behind the canvas and switch with the Star.

But I was wrong! It was Alfred Molina! Studying his painting, he sat there for half an hour and the play hadn’t even started! There’s dedication for you, there’s acting! He was becoming Mark Rothko before your eyes.

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Alfred Molina & Alfred Enoch

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Alfred Enoch seeing the painting for the first time.

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Molina and Enoch start to paint the canvas.                                  

I can only describe the brilliant painting of the canvas by Alfred Molina and Alfred Enoch as a well-choreographed ballet. It was just amazing the way they worked together and around one another, at the same time. Splashing paint onto the canvas, until they reached the right color that Rothko was happy with. It was absolute perfection!

When the play started and Alfred Enoch came on stage, who, by the way, also gave a brilliant performance, I could hear every single word they said! ‘Good God!’, I thought.  I wasn’t going deaf! I was now just watching and listening to fabulous acting. They could project. You could hear every word!!!                                                      Doesn’t say much for some of the other actors I had seen recently!

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Whatever I had paid for my ticket, it was worth double. This was acting the way it should be. It was a pleasure and an honor to be able to see a master of his craft. Alfred Molina, I take my hat off to you! (If I were to wear a hat!)  You deserve every accolade that is bestowed upon you. Long may you reign! Along with Helen Mirren!

By the way, don’t just take my word for it, here are a few notices:

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The Financial Times.

 “Red”, Wyndham’s Theatre, London — Brilliantly performed

Alfred Molina is outstanding as Mark Rothko in this magnificently staged drama about the artist.

 

Daily Mail.

This is a just a pre-production review by Baz Bamigboye of the “Daily Mail” Show Business Column that has to be included.

Alfred the Great!

Alfred Molina’s painting the town “Red” all over again: Actor to return to London for ‘unfinished business’ as award-winning play opens in West End

By Baz Bamigboye for the Daily Mail

Alfred Molina is seeing “Red”, again. The British actor will be returning to London on what he and director Michael Grandage call ‘unfinished business’ — to see John Logan’s award-winning play “Red” open in the West End.

Grandage said many folks never had a chance to catch it in London eight years ago when, starring Molina and Eddie Redmayne, it had a limited run at the Donmar Warehouse.

The play tells the story of painter Mark Rothko and Ken, a young man who turns up one morning to help mix paints, stretch the canvases and help around the studio.

‘We’ve never done a West End run. It’s like a little part of the journey that’s always felt incomplete,’ said Molina who, as Rothko, took “Red” to Broadway and Los Angeles. ‘There’s something special about going back to a role you originated.’

Grandage, who directed the Donmar show, will once again be at the helm (and the Michael Grandage Company producing) when it runs at Wyndham’s Theatre from May 4 until July 28. 

Molina recalled how Grandage and his team infused the Donmar with the smell of turpentine and pigment. ‘As audiences walked in, they were in a different environment,’ he said.

He remembered his co-star Redmayne meeting a woman on the Tube who showed him her handbag . . . with a red paint mark on it. ‘It must have come off when we were sloshing all the paint about on stage. He apologized and offered to clean it and she said: “No — it’s my memory of a great night in the theatre!”’  (She said it all in that one sentence. ‘A great night in the Theatre’)

Grandage said many folks never had a chance to catch it in London eight years ago when, starring Molina and Eddie Redmayne, it had just a limited run at the Donmar Warehouse.

Grandage approached him to tell him the play would, finally, be getting a West End season. ‘Eddie said: “Wouldn’t it be lovely to do?! But I’m getting closer to Rothko (in age) now.”’                                                    Molina, 64, has carved out a thriving TV and film career in the U.S., but said he often dreams of the West End. He’s happy to be coming back to London, but admitted to feeling ‘a little scared’ at the prospect of treading the boards again.

‘I’ve always loved the theatre, but I’ve made my living working in television and film, and my forays into theatre are infrequent. I sometimes worry that the theatrical establishment is looking rather askance. Like: “What’s this old soldier trying to prove?”’

Molina was speaking from Los Angeles, where he was packing up the home he shared for 25 years with his wife, Jill Gascoine — the author and actress who made her name in such popular television dramas as The Onedin Line and The Gentle Touch.

Molina’s moving to another property, but his beloved wife is in a home. ‘She’s in an extremely advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. We’ve all kind of basically said our goodbyes,’ he added, softly.

‘The prognosis is always the same. She’s in a home here in LA and being very well looked after. She doesn’t recognise anyone or speak any more. She’s pretty much trapped in this very sad illness.’

Let alone is Alfred Molina a Great Actor, he also has a Great Heart.

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I’ve talked about “Zee & Co.” so often. Well, here it is!

I’ve talked about “Zee & Co.” so often. Well, here’s a chance for those who never saw my Act ( and there must be millions of the General Public, and those who are too young) and also those kind and wonderful people who follow my Blog. To see it!

Remember these T.V. performances were filmed in 1980-81, before the Age of Electronics and all those gimmicks that can now be added to Illusions. This is just plain Magic, and also you have the opportunity of seeing the lovely Angie, (who I talk about all the time), in action.

I’ve also added Cannon and Ball into this video, because at the time they were at the peak of their career, and it was a great privilege for me to be included in their T.V. Special that we performed live from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London. We then went on to do a season with  them at the Apollo Theatre, Coventry. They are well worth watching.  Enjoy! ! !

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Treat yourself to a room on the Amtrak Train. Something I’ve always promised myself, for years. Well, don’t bother!!!

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Grand Union Railway Station

I Took the Amtrak Train from New York to Fort Lauderdale, Florida from the Grand Union Railway Station, New York as a gift to myself. This time I booked a room. That’s a laugh! You can forget it! Big mistake!!! Fortunately, I listened to the Amtrak Assistant at the Office who insisted that I send at least 2 sets of luggage on in advance. Because, as she said “There is not a lot of room in the room.” How right she was, and thank God I did. Otherwise I’d have been up shit creek without a paddle!

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The Room without 1 Suitcase and 1 Holdall.

The room is supposed to be for 2 people. I can tell you that if a married couple did the trip and shared the room, they would be starting divorce proceedings the moment they arrived at their destination! To use the toilet come shower you would have to climb over or knock out the other person. Once inside this combined toilet come shower, you would just have to pray that you don’t suffer from claustrophobia or have diarrhea! What do people do who are a little on the large size? I really dread to think! The toilet seat is so small (only for little bums) that you sit there with both cheeks clamped together. Everything you have to do in that room has to be at your own risk, and I’m sure there is a notice there to that effect.

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THIS IS THE TOILET COME SHOWER WITH THE DOOR OPEN

In the main room (that’s another laugh), there is a lighted button which says call for Attendant. There are only two rooms in total on the train. But does the Attendant come? Oh! No! He’s busy sitting in the Restaurant Car talking to the rest of the other Attendants. So you need to go and find him should you require anything.

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Come time to turn down the bed, by the time the double bed is made up there is a 6inch gap between the wash-hand basin and the bed.

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Have you ever tried to squeeze through a 6inch gap? By the time you are through, you need the kiss of life! I’m sure that you would be better off and have more room in a prison cell!

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So all those wonderful moments that I dreamed about as a child when I would go to the cinema with Rose. Those great moments in the old B Movies when the Gangsters would shoot it out and Romance also took place, all in on an Amtrak Train in a private Room. All those moment couldn’t have happened on this train or this room!

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All my hopes of living through those wonderful moments were dashed to the ground. Here I was on the luxurious Silver Amtrak Train in a cubby hole! The rooms on the Amtrak Train in the movies didn’t exist. They must have had some Dramatic License when they made the Films and just stretched the Rooms!  In the 60’s Ray and I went from Miami to New York on Amtrak, and at that time I booked couchettes thinking it was a room. It wasn’t it was bunk beds ( I didn’t know any better) But it finished up like a scene from “Some Like it Hot”, except we didn’t have Marylyn Monroe or Tony Curtis or Jack Lemmon to accompany us and liven things up! 

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Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot”

That trip was awful! So, this time I made sure and booked a room, and what happens I’ve done it again!

The room was definitely made for very, very, very little people   Even Janet Krankie would have found it a tight squeeze, and that was without Ian. Well maybe she could have always sat on his knee as Wee Jimmy and they could have done their brilliant Vent Act.

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Janet and Ian as Wee Jimmy doing their Vent Act.

But that wouldn’t be possible with the Political Correctness that they have these days.  There! It just all goes to show you! Another dream shattered!!!

If I would have known what the Train Journey would have been like. I would have caught the Train with “Anastasia”!

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

The Two PeopleWho Hold A Very Special Place In My Heart

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The Statue of Liberty, New York

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Ray and Angie

It was such a joy for me to return again to New York, just to see my beloved Angie once again. The happiness of seeing her once more, gives me such a warm and glad feeling in my heart. She has never changed, just the same sweet girl who I first met many years ago through George Kovari the Magician. When I think about it, it was George who literally forced me to engage her to become my principle assistant in “Zee & Co.”, and I thank God that he nagged and badgered me, and cajoled me, and insisted that I take her. I am indebted to him forever, otherwise a part of my heart would be empty and I would have lost out completely!

(This is a note that Angie gave me)

ANGIE'S ENVELOPE

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 Ray and Angie in our flat in Barons Keep    

ANGIES LETTER NO.2.

My first night there we ate Dinner again at the delightful ‘Trattoria del Arte’, with Randy her husband who took time out to see me from his busy work schedule. The food was excellent as always, plenty of Pino Grigio Wine which happens to be my favorite. It was there that she showed me the photo of herself and Ray, which she promised to have copied for me, before I left New York.

The noise in the Restaurant of the New Yorkers enjoying their food and talking happily was something I had forgotton about. It was so loud but everybody was enjoying themselves and having a good time, and that really is what life is all about. I had just forgotten that I was back in New York.

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New York at Night

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The Lights of Broadway

Angie took me to see 2 shows whilst I was in New York.

“Boys in the Band” and “Anastasia”

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The “Boys in the Band” I was so disappointed in, for one thing apart from the 3 principles.

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I couldn’t hear a lot of what the rest of the cast were saying. Of course! At my age I could be going deaf! It wasn’t a bit like I remembered it, and to be truthful I didn’t really enjoy it. I was told later by my very good friend Judson Barteaux when we met again for lunch, when I was in Fort Lauderdale, that part of the script had been changed “Political Correctness” why is it that a part of a play or even more seriously part of the World’s History and Heritage is just being changed and lost forever? This is a question that bothers me constantly. We are losing our very existence. Why, do people want to change everything? When it’s not even for the better!

Anyway to round off the evening we went to Sardi’s for dinner, this happens to be one of my favorite Restaurants in New York. Very Theatrical!

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The following night we saw “Anastasia”.

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Fabulous!

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Now, that was another thing altogether!

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The Broadhurst Theatre

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Christy Altomare who plays Anastasia is outstanding.

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The Court of Tsar Nicholas 11 of Russia.

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Anastasia’s arrival in Paris

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The Train Station in Moscow, where they take the Train to Paris and the Train Journey. I’ve never seen anything like this on any Stage before. Can you imagine a train ride from Russia to France? Unbelievable! ! !

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The Train twists and turns through the Russian Countryside and all the various countries they pass by, and the various weather conditions, and the foliage changing with the climate. There are Maps showing their route as they go on their way through to Paris.

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The Train Journey through the Russian country side.

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The final arrival of the Train through a Forest of Red Maple Trees in full blossom leading, parting, and opening into Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Has to be one of the most beautiful scenes, to be seen on any Stage.

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The whole Show is quite amazing! It has to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen on Broadway. You just cannot fault it.  It is perfection! When it comes to London see it and enjoy it. It should be No.1 on your bucket list.  

After seeing such a wonderful Show which was so amazing, Angie and I went to Joe Allen’s, another one of my favorites. Great food at this Restaurant. Theatrical also! Can’t help it the Theatre’s in my blood!

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Then a last lunch at Barney’s with Angie and Randy. The time passed so fast. I would have loved to have spent more time with her. But time seems to go so quickly these days, and I’ve been around for such a long, long, long time!

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Barneys New York

NB. (I have to explain that Barney’s is a sort of cross between Fortnum & Mason and Harrods all rolled into one. Quite Ritzy!)

That is where Angie gave me the the framed photo of her and Ray in Barons Keep, and the following morning I caught the Amtrak Train to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Which is another story. You wouldn’t believe it!!!    To be continued:-

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

How Wrong Can a Person Be!

Since publishing the article The “Battling Broads” Myth or True?  on August 22nd, 2012, there has been a continuation to the story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in the 2017 TV mini series “FEUD”.

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A new mini series has been produced called “FEUD” starring Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford. Both are brilliant in their portrayals.

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The real life ladies and the emulations of Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange.

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This goes to disprove my assumption that their FEUD was just a publicity stunt. I was WRONG! But one can’t be right all the time. I was just going from the news I could gather about their film “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” and the stills from the said film. My research went no further back than that. I had no idea of the history of these two stars from their beginnings in Hollywood.

Well now, I don’t have to bother! The researchers of “FEUD” have done it for me.

I have to eat my words (within reason). Davis and Crawford, were both very hard nuts to crack.

With Bette Davis, what was on her lung was on her tongue, she took no bullshit from anyone. So you knew exactly where you stood with her. If she liked you, O.K, but if she didn’t! ‘Run for the hills!!!

Crawford on the other hand was even more dangerous and evil. Her behavior was more snakelike. She was devious and by the time she had finished with you, and used you, and abused you, she then threw you out. If you were lucky, you didn’t finish up with a knife in your back!

I have nothing but praise for this mini series and the work that went into the research into the history, backgrounds and relationship of these two stars, which went back to almost the beginning of their careers. This I didn’t do. Just goes to show you that they really did hate one another.

The research is quite amazing and must have taken months or even years to plan and organize, and the portrayals by Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford are quite brilliant! “FEUD” is a must for every film buff.

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This is a recreation of their original pose.

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The casting as a whole is superb. I have but two complaints. The character of Olivia De Havilland as played by Catherine Zeta Jones, a very talented actress in her own right, was not a bit like Olivia De Havilland as I remember her. Joan Blondell. meanwhile, was played by the superb and charismatic actress Kathy Bates, but they made her look as much like Joan Blondell as Lassie! Not their fault at all! Just put it down to very bad casting or very, very, very bad make-up!!! 

Outstanding, among the supporting players is:

JACKIE HOFFMAN AS Momacita. What a brilliant piece of acting, for which I believe she was nominated for an Emmy for best supporting actress in a mini series. Unfortunately lost out to another actress, to which she said, “DAMN IT!”, and I don’t blame her!

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Jackie Hoffman

Also outstanding is:

ALFRED MOLINA as Robert Aldrich. But more about ALFRED MOLINA later, when I saw him in “RED” at the Wyndhams Theatre in London.

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                              Alfred Molina                      as                   Robert Aldrich                

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2 Comments

Posted by on May 3, 2018 in Uncategorized