Dissecting the Title Sequence of ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’

Feud: Bette and Joan

FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan is a little under a month away, but the network has already released the show’s title sequence. The debut season of Ryan Murphy’s latest anthology series focuses on the rivalry between Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) and Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange), which reached such epic proportions when the two actresses worked together on 1962’s Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? that it became the the stuff of Hollywood legend.

The striking animated credit sequence is full of references to the film as well as Crawford and Davis’s storied animosity. Let’s unpack the imagery, shall we?

Like the opening titles of Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me if You Can, Mad Men and even FXX’s Archer, the Feud opener’s cut-out style animation is a tribute to Saul Bass, the graphic designer behind the iconic opening sequences of Psycho and Otto Preminger’s The Man With the Golden Arm. It opens with a nod to the car accident that relegates Crawford’s character, Blanche Hudson, to a wheelchair and the care of her mentally unstable sister in Baby Jane.

The symbolism is a little on-the-nose, but like their characters in the film, Crawford and Davis were fiercely competitive, seeing each other as rivals for Tinseltown’s harsh spotlight. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to imagine that both characters and the real life actresses would have liked to push each other off L.A.’s famous Hollywood sign.

Crawford and Davis’s feud was actually a major selling point for the film, contributing to its success as well as revitalizing the older actresses’ careers. Feud will likely examine how studio heads pitted the two women against each other, as well as the larger Hollywood forces that contributed to their rivalry.

Oh, Blanche? You know we’ve got rats in the cellar? Lololol!

In the original film, Crawford’s character attempts to call for help, trying to convince her doctor of the danger her increasingly violent sister poses. It…does not go well.

The cat fight lasted even after filming had wrapped. Davis was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role, but Crawford was not. In retaliation, Crawford reportedly offered to accept the Oscar for any of the other nominees who were unable to attend the ceremony should they beat Davis.

The sequence ends with a sunny trip to the beach, a reference to the disturbing final moments of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Watch the entire title sequence below and let us know in the comments if we missed any references: