Joan Crawford

Happy Birthday, John Waters!

John Waters as William Castle and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford on FX's FEUD

William Castle (John Waters) addressing the crowd at STRAIT-JACKET’s (1964) premiere as Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) listens on FEUD (2017) episode HAGSPLOITATION

I grew up in a John Waters household, so when I caught up with FEUD (2017), I was delighted to watch his cameo as shockmeister William Castle. My parents went to Waters’ movies, and my mom owns an ODODRAMA card gotten at a first run screening of POLYESTER (1981). Living in Massachusetts close enough to The Cape that Provincetown could be a day jaunt, she thinks she shopped in Dreamlander Divine‘s thrift shop, which he ran in his poor, pre-fame days. It was only a matter of time until we shared some of Waters’ movies together. I’ve now seen most of his films and read most of his books.

Which is how I know it was an honor for him to play Castle. Physically, the two men were very different. Waters has remained trim while Castle was heavier in comparison and thicker haired. FEUD show creator Ryan Murphy didn’t want Waters costumed to resemble Castle. No, fat suit as Waters said. Murphy was aware those in this know would delight in how meta it would be for Castle disciple Waters to appear as himself when portraying the other director.

If you haven’t read Castle’s memoir STEP RIGHT UP! I’M GOING TO SCARE THE PANTS OFF AMERICA, you need to. Waters wrote a loving and nostalgic introduction on how seeing Castle’s gimmicky movies as a kid inspired a love of cinema and the outrageous. There’s a joy in both directors’ works at defying convention to pursue their own visions. Keep on reading after the introduction, and you’ll learn a lot about B-movie making on shoestring budgets, including what it was like to work with Joan Crawford on STRAIT-JACKET (1964).

Happy birthday to John Waters, who doesn’t think he’s ever topped William Castle, but got to be him for a day! That must have been his best early birthday present.

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A Completely Fluffy Post About Oscar & Film Fashion

It’s time to dust off Spellbound with a completely fluffy post about Oscar and film fashion. Over the weeks in-depth posts will follow, but for now some simple visuals.

I’m another gown watcher of the Academy Awards. One of the reasons I love to go to a movie theatre for the broadcast is to see the outfits and their details on the large screen. Ever since Sunday’s broadcast, I’ve had Joan Crawford on my mind thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow and Jane Seymour. Here’s how I made that leap!

Paltrow’s Tom Ford brought the cape back to Hollywood fashion:



When I saw Seymour’s gown I mentally combined the two–



and what I got was pure Joan:


The above still is from The Bride Wore Red (1937). The dress was designed by Adrian, and it was supposed to show how utterly unsuitable Joan’s character Anni was to wed an ensnared blue blood. When contrasted against her love rival’s understated, tasteful fashions, she looked like a jezebel, but something remains undeniable. She looks fantastic for any era in an outfit few others could carry off.

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