The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, April 21, 2004  

Rittenhouse Responds

One of my favorite readers, M.P., writes, in response to an e-mail from me about the current weekly poll in which I wrote, “tempting as it is, you may vote only once”:

Tempting, hah! I am so behind on movies. I like Jane Fonda, what is she doing on that list!?

People used to tell me I looked like her (I had sort of a “Klute” haircut), but that was 20 years ago. I don’t get that anymore, lol.

Now, it’s not clear, to me at least, whether M.P. no longer “gets,” as in receives, remarks telling her she looks like Fonda, or, instead, whether she longer “gets” the Klute-type hair cut.

Either way, Fonda is on the list for at least three spectacularly horrific performances. In reverse chronological order, they include: “Agnes of God” (1985), “On Golden Pond” (1981), and “Julia” (1977), and particularly for “Julia.”

Twenty-five years after the fact I remain mystified by Fonda’s “best supporting actress” nomination for her performance in “Julia,” a film based on just one of the many lying memoirs of one of the 20th century’s most overrated playwrights and dishonest writers (thank you, Mary McCarthy), Lillian Hellman.

If you’re not a Fonda fan, or if you doubt truly great actors, like Redgrave, for example, know real crap when they see it, rent “Julia,” an otherwise fine film.

But watch for the scene in which Fonda, as Hellman, and Redgrave, as “Julia,” meet in a café to exchange the hat.

Throughout the scene, the look on Redgrave’s face is remarkable.

It says everything.

It says, “What the hell am I doing sharing a sound stage with this incompetent community-theater wannabe? Who is this woman? Did she sleep with someone? Is she somebody’s daughter?”

[Correction (April 23): Reader D.E. writes to remind me Fonda was nominated for Best Actress, not Best Supporting Actress, for her role in “Julia.” She lost to Diane Keaton for “Annie Hall.” Redgrave was nominated, and won the award, for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “Julia.”]

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