Feud

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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I’m bringing #TCMFFGlamour Back!

Linda winning Besame Cosmetics Face Powder as part of #TCMFFGlamour

One of last year’s #TCMFFGlamour winners, Linda. She and her daughter came stylishly and classically attired, like they had stepped out of one of the films screened.

 

Well, technically I need the help of other TCM Classic Film Festival attendees to bring the glamour. Last year Bésame Cosmetics entered into a co-promotion with me. You may have seen their red lipsticks featured in FEUD (2017). They gave me lipsticks and powders to feature in a contest for 2016 festival attendees, and the response was good. It was fun making women happy and talking with them about the glamour of movies we love. This year the contest returns in a new variation with new prizes.

Instead of having people discuss movie star glamour or answer trivia questions via Twitter, I’m going to seek out the stylishly attired to feature in my social media and on my blog. Like a lot of classic film fans, I’m fascinated by and attracted to the glamour the era brought to the silver screen. My style’s been influenced by the movies I love, and I see that trait reflected in other classic film fans in how they present themselves, especially at TCM’s festival. This year’s contest will explore and share that expression of fandom.

After the fest ends, I’m going to create a post featuring all of the stylishly attired I’ve featured during the festival. On that post, readers will be able to vote for their favorite looks. The top three winners will win prizes from Bésame and Unique Vintage. Whoever comes in first place will get her first choice prize and so on.

Besame Cosmetics Logo

I’m excited that Bésame has returned as a contest sponsor. I personally use their products, particularly their lipsticks, but I love and wear two of their perfumes. They’ve donated two gift certificates for $25 each. Winners will be able to use those gift certificates to select an item from the entire line.

Unique Vintage Logo

Unique Vintage is a new partner. They sell reproduction vintage clothing and accessories designed for today’s bodies in a wide range of sizes. They sell other companies’ clothing, and they have their own line. They have offered an in-stock Unique Vintage brand dress, separate, or swim item (excluding their flapper line)–winner’s choice!

In the goal of being transparent, I want to thank Unique Vintage for giving me a media discount on three of the frocks I’ll be wearing at the fest, which you’ll see featured in my social media. I’ve packed a fourth dress bought from them previously at full price, too.

If you’re attending the festival, and you’re glammed up, feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to hear from you why you chose your outfit and if you were thinking of any specific films when you did.

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FEUD & the Costuming of Bette Davis, What I’ll be Watching for

Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis in FEUD Smoking

FEUD premieres tonight on FX, and like many classic film fans, I’m watching to see how legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are portrayed, and I’ll be paying particular attention to one area of costuming.

Susan Sarandon plays Davis. The latter actress, while capable of glamour and being beautiful onscreen, always favored her performances over the strictures of the star machine that led more wary or canny actresses to compromise on characterization in favor of not lowering beauty standards too far. Davis felt no restriction. She wanted her Mildred Rogers in OF HUMAN BONDAGE (1934) to look as sickly as possible when the script called for that, and she pushed for her WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) costume to be more extreme than as originally designed.

Sarandon has shown a willingness to deglam onscreen for the right roles, but offscreen she’s been a poster girl for not looking her age or letting it determine whether she should be sexy on the red carpet and how. A favorite outfit of hers to wear to movie launches, so much so it’s almost a uniform, is a suit with no shirt worn underneath its jacket, often leaving a pretty bra visible for all to see. If her bra isn’t in view, its push-up effects leave no doubt of its presence.

I’m finding it ironic that an actress sartorially famous for her bras and gravity defying chest is playing one who eschewed underwire bras, despite being as generously endowed. As the recent Orry-Kelly documentary, WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED (2015) revealed Davis was convinced wearing underwire caused breast cancer. The costume designer was left having to camouflage that the leading lady was undersupported or braless by “using foulards, pockets, buttons, and other visual tricks.”

So while I’m watching FEUD, I’m going to be looking at Sarandon’s silhouette to see if series costume supervisor Katie Saunders incorporated this particular quirk when approving designs. Like Davis knew, it’s paying attention to the little details that help a performer build and inhabit a character.

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