Tag Archives: Jane Fonda

On Golden Fonda

10 Jun

I’m rushing to complete this piece before TNT airs Jane Fonda’s American Film Institute Life Achievement Award celebration sometime this month; the tribute was taped less than a week ago. I’ll probably skip the TV program. Oh, I’ve watched these annual shindigs from time to time going all the way back to the 70s when Bette Davis, James Cagney, Orson Welles, and Alfred Hitchcock were honored, but for some reason the last several tributes have seemed extremely edited, to force the fun factor, and that bothers me. Besides, I don’t need the AFI, necessarily, to remind me how much I love the films of Jane Fonda or to help me remember my favorites.

When I was a wee thing, I thought Jane Fonda too gorgeous for words. Truthfully, if I saw any of her movies at that time, it would have likely been Barefoot in the Park (1967), co-starring the equally and improbably gorgeous Robert Redford; the two later reteamed for 1979’s smash The Electric Horseman (directed by Sydney Pollack), but I digress. No, mostly I recall seeing pictures of Fonda in my mother’s movie magazines, Modern Screen, Photoplay, etc. Based on what I’d heard, I imagined that she ran around naked in most of her films, mostly Barbarella. Then, she cut her hair, apparently dyed it black, and protested the war–to put it mildly. I didn’t know what to think about all that, but I was still a child, only 11 or 12. I didn’t understand the full implications of her actions, but I also didn’t want my older brother to be drafted, yet I also wanted America “to win,” so I was more confused than anything else. Fonda won the Oscar for Klute during that period, coincidentally my first time to make it through the Academy Awards from start to finish. I outlasted everyone else in the house. The French Connection won Best Picture, btw. Still, I somehow knew that Fonda played a prostitute in Klute, thereby further fostering the notion that she probably appeared nude in most of her films.

This column is not for Fonda haters. Politically, she and I probably have a lot in common. but that’s not to say that I agree with, or follow, her every move. It’s easy to write her off as a bit of a dilettante, given that she was raised second generation Hollywood and has had a tendency to attach herself to powerful charismatic men; however, she’s also a damned fine actress, and while actresses of her caliber are still doing their gosh-darnedest to create meaningful work, I think almost none of today’s top tier stars use their star power in quite the same way that Fonda did at her peak in the late 1970s and early-to-mid 1980s. Not only is she a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress, with five additional acting nominations, she also made her mark as an astute movie producer whose credits include such smash hits as Nine to Five and On Golden Pond though to clarify, she almost never received screen credit on the films she developed with ally and business partner Bruce Gilbert through IPC films–though we’ll get to that. Right now, these are my reminisces of a lifetime of movies starring the one and only Jane Fonda.


Left to right: Lee Marvin, Jane Fonda, and Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou, the movie that announced Jane Fonda as a star in the making.

Cat Ballou (1965): Fonda plays the title character in the mid 1960s western romp, but Lee Marvin won all the accolades, including the Oscar for Best Actor, in dual roles. Legend has it that Ann-Margret was actually the first choice for the role of the would-be school marm turned would-be outlaw. The story goes that Margret’s agent turned down the offer without notifying his client first [*]. Yikes! Fonda was on her way.



Jane Fonda as Barbarella. Who looks like this in real-life? No one.

Barbarella  (1968): Fonda and her then husband, French film director Roger Vadim, teamed up for this far-flung futuristic sex farce based on a comic strip. Though reportedly more scandalous than profitable in its time, it has nonetheless influenced a host of filmmakers, as well as 1980s pop-superstars Duran Duran, and once upon a time no less than Drew Barrymore threatened to star in a remake. Thank god that never happened though Britney Spears clearly jumped at the chance in her video for “Oops! I Did It Again.” I caught up with Barbarella years and years ago at the old Granada theatre, and it had not aged well. Whatever the film’s weaknesses, Fonda is not one of them. She’s the very definition of eye-candy, and the opening credits are a hoot.



Besides earning an Oscar nomination for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Fonda was also named the year’s Best Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?  (1969): A year after Barbarella, Fonda and Vadim were on the skids, and the spaced-out sex kitten reinvented herself as a serious actress of the highest order in Sydney Pollack’s searing look at the desperate participants in a grueling Depression-era dance marathon. Fonda earned her first Oscar nomination, losing–not entirely undeservedly–to the great Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Affable long-time character actor Gig Young took the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his audacious turn as the crass, cruel emcee. The Academy also nominated supporting actress Susannah York and director Pollack. Indeed, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, besides having one of the most iconic movie titles of all time, also holds the distinction of being nominated for more Oscars, nine, without also competing for Best Picture. It was, in fact, the second most nominated film during the 1969/70 race (right behind Anne of the Thousand Days) with the top award going to Midnight Cowboy. The cast  also includes Michael Sarrazin, Bonnie Bedelia, Red Buttons, and Al Lewis.  I saw this unrelentingly harsh movie the first time it aired on network television and have never cared to revisit it since then even with that stellar cast.


Fonda (l) and Sutherland (r) not only co-starred in Klute, they jointly campaigned against the war. Sutherland escorted Fonda to the ceremony the night she won her Oscar. The two later reteamed for Steelyard Blues.

Klute (1971):  Fonda took home the 1971 Best Actress Oscar for her, for the times, surprisingly frank portrayal of call-girl Bree Daniels in this Alan J. Pakula thriller starring Donald Sutherland as the title character, a detective investigating the disappearance of a male executive with possible ties to Fonda’s character. The critics and the Academy went bonkers for Fonda in this film, especially as she worked hard to make her character a complex, fully dimensional human being rather than the stereotypical hooker with a heart of gold depicted in many films, but  after a number of viewings through the decades, I remain a tad unconvinced that the performance is all that though I have misgivings about the film in general.  I understand that her matter-of-fact take had just enough of an edge to make an impact.  I still prefer Julie Christie (McCabe and Mrs. Miller), which I’ve also seen several times, or Vanessa Redgrave (Mary Queen of Scots); that is, I prefer those two of the nominated performances, but, of course, Ruth Gordon as Maude in Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude is nearest and dearest to my heart and a performance likely much more beloved by legions of movie aficionados in the decades since than any of the actual nominees; plus, despite its reputation as a stinker that rose to cult status in the years following its initial release, both Gordon and co-star Bud Cort snagged Golden Globe nods during that season’s awards race. Not bad. But I digress.

Fonda as Lillian Hellman

^ Jane Fonda as Lillian Hellman in Julia. To put it kindly, the real-life Hellman didn’t possess Fonda’s movie star good looks. Indeed, the two women bear almost no resemblance. If Julia were made today, I’m afraid there would be a pronounced effort to make the actress look more like the real deal, a feat that would probably involve prosthetics, but I applaud Fonda for eschewing such gimmicks as they often distract from rather than enhance a performance, a characterization.

Julia (1977): The years immediately following Klute were lean for Fonda as her activism alienated her from both mainstream audiences and the Hollywood corporate power structure tthough she jumped at the chance to work with George Cukor on the U.S. – Russia ill-fated remake of The Bluebird. In the spring of 1977 she caught a break when the dark comedy Fun with Dick and Jane, co-starring George Segal along with Ed McMahon, turned into a surprise hit. In the fall, her comeback at 39-going-on-40 was seemingly complete as she commanded the screen as “scrappy” playwright Lillian Hellman in Julia, based on a remembrance, long disputed, of Hellman’s to-the-manor-born childhood friend who later used her inheritance as a member of the European resistance. In this tantalizing puzzle of a tale, taken from the intriguingly entitled memoir Pentimento, Hellman, a Jewish playwright making her mark with The Children’s Hour while duking it out with mentor and sometime lover Dashiell Hammett, embarks on a tense journey to smuggle money into Berlin and reunite with her long cherished friend. The movie opened in the fall of 1977 though I didn’t catch up with it until weeks, if not days, prior to the 1977/78 Oscars when it had shifted its run from the old GCC NorthPark to the historic Highland Park Village, and I have to say it was the most important moviegoing event of my life up to that point–and, keep in mind, I’d seen Star Wars the first week it opened in May of ’77. Certainly, the European flourishes and period decor of the theatre contributed to the ambience. At any rate, I loved everything about  Julia, including the incredible true story–as we were led to believe at the time–along with the European locales, the cinematography by Douglas Slocombe, the breathtakingly composed opening shot, the stunning score by Georges Delerue, the luxe period costumes by Anthea Sylbert, and, of course, the righteous performances of Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave (seen mostly in flashbacks as the glorious title character), Jason Robards Jr. (as Hammett), and Maximilian Schell (particularly good as the enigmatic emissary known as Mr. Johann). Fonda nabbed another Academy nod for playing a woman with tremendous gumption in spite of herself, but her generosity with other actors was becoming apparent as Redgrave and Robards both won golden statuettes–it was Robards’ second consecutive win–and Schell yielded an additional nomination. As much as I love Diane Keaton, my heart broke when Fonda lost the Oscar to the  Annie Hall star. I’d never experienced anything as emotionally nuanced as the big reunion scene between Lillian and Julia in a Berlin cafe. I was willing putty in the hands of two highly skilled thespians, and it felt like heaven. I didn’t react nearly as strongly to Annie Hall, so, yes, Fonda’s loss broke my heart; however,  it would not stay broken for long.


In the fall of 1977, Newsweek deemed Fonda and Julia worthy of a cover story: “Hollywood’s New Heroines.” Indeed, it was a heady time for actresses as earlier the same year, the same magazine featured no less than Sissy Spacek (below) just as she was being feted by the Academy for Carrie and co-starring with Shelley Duvall and Janice Rule in Robert Altman’s 3 Women.  Duvall later tied for Best Actress at that year’s Cannes fest and would have likely figured in the Oscar race in a less competitive year. How competitive was it? Well, all five of that year’s Best Actress nominees starred in Best Picture finalists: Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine in The Turning Point, Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl, and Fonda; moreover, The Turning Point and Julia went into the final stretch as the frontrunners with 11 nominations each, including Best Picture and Best Director. (Julia was directed by legendary Fred Zinneman, already a two-time winner for From Here to Eternity and A Man for All Seasons [1].) Star Wars was next with 10 nods. [<The three most nominated films, btw, were all released by 20th Century Fox, clearly having a banner year.] The list of failed Best Actress possibilities from that race includes not only Duvall and Spacek but also Liza Minelli (New York, New York), Kathleen Quinlan (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden),  Gena Rowlands (Opening Night), and Lily Tomlin (The Late Show), all of whom were Globe nominated. That was also the year that Keaton dazzled critics in the steamy big screen adaptation of  Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Judith Rossner’s sensational novel about a doomed thrill-seeker amid New York City’s ever adventurous swingle scene. Cases could be made for a few other sterling performances in films that were relatively obscure or otherwise indifferently received, but you get the gist.


Spacek Newsweek

^ When Sissy Spacek appeared on the cover of Newsweek in the spring of ’77, she was basking in the glow of her Oscar nod for Carrie and earning raves for both Robert Altman’s 3 Women and Alan Rudolph’s Welcome to LA. She hosted SNL, portraying no less than Amy Carter, around the same time.





Jane Fonda (r) gave Jon Voight (l) the role of a lifetime in Coming Home. I was thrilled by his Oscar victory and don’t think he’s ever been better. I’d still rank it among my top five leading male performances. Easily. With the possible exceptions of Harold and Maude–also directed by Coming Home’s Hal Ashby–and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I have probably paid to see this one in theatres more times than I have any other movie.

Coming Home (1978): With this earnest tale of Vietnam veterans learning to cope in a politically charged climate, Fonda moved from onscreen talent to behind the scenes mover-and-shaker as she co-produced the film with partner Bruce Gilbert.  At the time, many Americans who either fought in the war or lost loved ones during the fight, criticized Fonda for being a hypocrite given the militancy in which she had previously attacked the war and anyone connected to it, but the film actually shows a great deal of compassion for the soldiers who sacrificed some of their humanity while fighting a senseless and unpopular war. Of course, it’s always been easy to dismiss Coming Home, as well, as an icky love triangle in which an affection starved woman finds sexual happiness from a seemingly incapacitated pacifist (Jon Voight) rather than an overwound gung-ho soldier (Bruce Dern), and, yes, I guess that claim is hard to dismiss, but I also think there’s lots of other stuff to praise, mostly the believable, nuanced performances, and the compassion the filmmakers show for the vets. To clarify, many of the patients at the VA hospital are actually played by real-life veterans, and, per the DVD,  they improvised their dialogue in key scenes. The movie competed against, among others, writer-director Michael Cimino’s macho-fueled, operatic Vietnam epic The Deer Hunter for Oscar’s top prize though Fonda and Voight claimed top honors for Best Actress and Best Actor respectively. Voight also won the Cannes Best Actor prize; meanwhile, Bruce Dern and Penelope Milford, as a woman Fonda befriends at the VA hospital, welcomed nods in the supporting acting categories [2]. Oddly, Fonda is absent from the DVD commentary though Voight, Dern, and cinematographer Haskell Wexler contribute. The movie clocks-in at #78 on the AFI countdown of the 100 greatest love stories.

California Suite

1978 was a heck of a year for Jane Fonda. Besides starring in Coming Home, she also appeared in Herbert Ross’s star-studded adaptation of Neil Simon’s California Suite, featuring Oscar winner Maggie Smith (lower right). Fonda also teamed with James Caan and Jason Robards in Comes a Horseman, directed by Alan J. Pakula, which also boasted an Oscar nominated supporting performance by Richard Farnsworth. Oh, and please note: though photographic evidence is scant, Fonda wore the same gown to accept her Coming Home Oscar that she’d worn the year before when she was up for Julia. That was the 1970s; no actress would consider doing the same today.



Left to right: Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, and the reactor towers at the Three Mile Island nuclear power facility in Philadelphia. The China Syndrome, written and directed by the late James Bridges, earned four Oscar nominations, including a Best Actor nod for Lemmon, who also scored the top acting honors at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.

The China Syndrome (1979): This suspenseful, nuclear power cautionary tale opened on Friday, March 16, 1979. I saw it the following Monday, March 19, at one of the GCC NorthPark theaters, either the I & II near the mall, or III  & IV across the expressway. My gut tells me the latter, but more than 30 years later, it’s no longer crystal clear. Plus, that’s not even the real story. No, the real story unfolded on March 28, 1979, when one of the reactors at the Three Mile Island nuclear power facility in Philadelphia suffered a partial meltdown and made headlines and cover stories all across the map. In an instant, Fonda found herself with the most relevant movie of the year, and all of us who’d already seen it could barely, well, contain ourselves. Naturally, I had to take a second and third look in the Three Mile Island aftermath. Fonda plays a flame-haired TV reporter, a throwback to the vintage Brenda Starr comic strip, who’s often assigned fluff stories but stumbles upon a cover-up at a plant outside of Los Angeles. Her eager cameraman is played by Michael Douglas, who also shares producer credit. The trio is rounded out by Jack Lemmon as a plant supervisor who knows more than he cares to admit. The whole thing just builds and builds to a shocking climax, and Fonda’s Kimberly Wells serves as the audience’s surrogate along the way. On one hand, the actress seems to be repeating herself by playing a naive woman whose consciousness is raised. On the other hand, the characters are otherwise night and day, and Fonda works hard to make Wells unique. Unsurprisingly, she earned her third consecutive Best Actress Oscar nod, also unsurprisingly losing to Sally Field in Norma Rae (a role that Fonda might have played under other circumstances) in a race that also included Bette Midler’s powerhouse debut in The Rose. The China Syndrome appears on the AFI’s list of greatest thrillers, weighing in at #94.

9 to 5

My first manager at the old UA Prestonwood Creek 5 kept scrupulous records regarding box office performance for all the films we played. Throughout the years, even as ticket prices rose and big budget blockbusters such as Return of the Jedi, Ghostbusters, Top Gun, and Batman grew increasingly popular, Nine to Five‘s original numbers continued to hold as one of our best house performers not only for ticket sales but also for longest runs, measured in weeks.

Nine to Five (1980): Not the funniest ever made, but a lot of fun, and a huge, huge, hit. Fonda’s business savvy is evident all over this offering about sexism and office politics as three capable yet undervalued secretarial workers unite against macho-fueled corporate tyranny. Fonda and company [3] shine light on the very real disparity between men and women in the workplace, an issue not entirely resolved today but especially noteworthy at the time, yet the message is cloaked in a more than generous dollop of humor. See? Nine to Five has a message, but it’s also an office comedy; likewise, The China Syndrome works as a suspense flick, and Coming Home tells a moving, complex love story. Fonda remembers her audience as well as her purpose. In this one, she portrays a prim divorcee trying dutifully to fit-in with her more seasoned co-workers, and she’s a constant delight as her straight-laced “Judy” learns to roll with the punches though more often later rather than sooner. Of course, in Nine to Five she’s aided immeasurably, once again, by her ability to cast the right people. In this case, Lily Tomlin as the generally sensible widow with children who’s continually passed over for promotions, and  Dolly Parton, in her film debut as a cute, curvaceous, and plainspoken secretary constantly fighting her boss’s sexual advances. (Give credit to Dabney Coleman for making the most of the women’s boss, “a sexist, egotistical, lying hypocritical bigot”; to his credit he understood who the stars of the movie were and didn’t get in their way.) The DVD commentary is a real treat as the three stars are reunited, and their affection for one another is most apparent.  Of course, Parton didn’t just act in the film, she wrote the catchy title tune which, let’s face it, has become a workforce anthem. Parton nabbed an Oscar nod for the tune. She also scored a handful of Globe nominations: Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy; Best Newcomer, and, yes, Best Song. She lost the song award to the ubiquitous “Fame” (from the movie of the same name). Parton went on to snare a pair of Grammy awards as well as a People’s Choice award for her track. Nine to Five is an AFI fave as it ranks #74 on its roster of funniest comedies while Parton’s ditty comes in at #78 on the organization’s list of greatest movie songs [4].


Jane Fonda In 'Nine To Five'

Jane Fonda in Nine to Five (above) and Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie (below), practically separated at birth: same curly hairdo, similar glasses, and high-neck fussy wardrobe.





Clockwise from left: Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda filming On Golden Pond. Not only did Mr. Fonda earn an Oscar, at last, Ms. Hepburn won an unprecedented 4th Best Actress Oscar for her work as the sage who must manage both husband/father and daughter. Though deceased for many years, Hepburn remains the Academy’s sole four-time performance winner. Meanwhile, Jane earned her only Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in the film, which included mastering a tricky backward flip into the water. At the same time audiences were flocking to On Golden Pond, Jane was also starring in Rollover, IPC’s second seasonal offering, opposite Kris Kristofferson.

On Golden Pond (1981):  Arguably Fonda’s most personable film as it presented the opportunity for her to appear onscreen with her dad, screen icon Henry Fonda. The actress-producer and her partner purchased Ernest Thompson’s play about an aging couple’s annual summer retreat,  and a final attempt for their grown daughter–with a son of her own–to work through longtime conflicts with her ornery, distant dad.  Though some critics complained that the resulting effort was just a tad too sweet, the public gobbled it up, going back again and again and making it one of 1981’s top tier hits though it technically made most of its money in early 1982. At Oscar time, it garnered 10 nods [5], including Best Picture and Best Director (Mark Rydell), placing second only to Warren Beatty’s epic Reds which led the pack with 12. Ultimately, Chariots of Fire pulled a Best Picture upset. Incredibly, in spite of being one of America’s most beloved actors, Henry Fonda had only been twice nominated by the Academy at that point: for playing Tom Joad in 1940’s The Grapes of Wrath, and for co-producing 1957’s Best Picture candidate Twelve Angry Men, in which he also starred. A year prior to On Golden Pond, Mr. Fonda had been honored with an honorary Oscar for his body of work; however, with his daughter’s vision, he found the perfect valedictory role and won a competitive Oscar at last. Alas, Mr. Fonda’s health was in rapid decline, and he was unable to attend the 1981/82 ceremony. Jane accepted the award for him. He passed away in August of 1982 at the age of 77. The AFI has singled this one out multiple times, including the enduring romance between the characters enacted by Mr. Fonda and Ms. Hepburn (100 Years…100 Passions) and the inspirational message of the film as a whole (100 Years…100 Cheers).

The Dollmaker

By the mid 1980s, Fonda had established herself as a fitness guru with a bestselling lines of books, workout videos, etc. Amid her busy schedule, she starred in, and co-produced, the Emmy winning TV movie The Dollmaker (1984), in which he portrayed a 1940s era Appalachian woman transplanted to Detroit, so her husband can find work.



Agnes of God (1985): No Fonda Oscar nod for this one, nor did she produce it, but she still gives a compelling performance in Norman Jewison’s adaptation of John Pielmeier’s successful play about a court appointed psychiatrist investigating a novice who claims she gave birth to a dead baby after an immaculate conception. Though Fonda did not find favor with the Academy for this one, she shares the screen with no less than Anne Bancroft (l) and Meg Tilly (r), both of whom did make the Academy’s short list: Bancroft for playing the formidable Mother Superior who clashes repeatedly with Fonda, and Tilly, sublime, as the troubled novice. Geraldine Page took the Best Actress Oscar that year for The Trip to Bountiful while Angelica Huston nabbed supporting actress honors for her wicked, wicked Maerose Prizzi in Prizzi’s Honor.


Fonda lost her last bid for Oscar glory to newcomer Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) in a race that also included Sissy Spacek (Crimes of the Heart), Kathleen Turner (Peggy Sue Got Married), and Sigourney Weaver (Aliens), who was actually my first pick, followed by Turner. I would have given Fonda’s nod to either Jessica Lange (also Crimes of the Heart), Helena Bonham Carter (either A Room with a View or Lady Jane), or Julie Andrews, doing exceptional work as a violinist with multiple sclerosis in the adaptation of Duet for One.

The Morning After (1986): This Sidney Lumet mystery signals Fonda’s last Oscar nomination, a nod I’ve always felt was, well, generous. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Fonda demonstrates in scene after scene that she is more than capable of emoting–as if none of us knew that already–but I also think she’s somehow miscast. Simply, she doesn’t look like the boozy, washed-up, movie actress that the script keeps saying she is, the next big thing that never was. Mainly, she just looks like she’s acting. A lot. Personally, and for reasons that might not be easily explained, I’ve always thought the role would have been better served by Angie Dickinson–and that’s not an insult to Dickinson. I just think she had a worldly lived-in glamour that robust Fonda–at the peak of her fitness empire–lacked. Plus, Dickinson deserved a meaty role at that point in her career; however, this was yet again a feature that Fonda developed with her partner, so mine is a moot consideration. Dickinson or any other actress never stood a chance. The movie opens promisingly enough as Fonda’s hot mess of a character wakes up next to a dead body, a stabbing victim, in a strange loft. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work so well as a mystery because there aren’t enough suspects to make the story compelling, and the “reveal” seems tacked on almost as an afterthought. Still, Lumet provides a visually interesting tour of sunny LA, a novelty for the famously east coast based director. Fonda’s co-stars include Jeff Bridges and Raul Julia.


Still a knockout, Fonda easily topped my 2012/13 Oscar’s “Best Dressed” list.

After The Morning After, Fonda completed the overblown, if entertaining, Old Gringo (1989) with Jimmy Smits and Gregory Peck–the latter as no less than fabled writer Ambrose Bierce. From there, she filmed Stanley and Iris (1990) with Robert DeNiro, and then she took a decade-plus break from movies during her marriage to media mogul Ted Turner. She made a comeback with Monster-in-Law, opposite Jennifer Lopez, in 2005 and even copped a Golden Globe nod. She also published her memoirs to considerable acclaim. Since then, she has triumphed on Broadway in 33 Variations, enjoyed a recurring role on Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom,  and appeared–briefly–as Nancy Reagan in last year’s White House based hit, Lee Daniels’ The Butler. She and Tomlin are prepping a new series for Netflix. I’m glad she came out of retirement and continues to find interesting projects. It’s crazy to me that she’s only three years younger than my mother and about the same age that her father was when he passed away. Amazing. I can hardly wait to see what she does next. Maybe I’ll watch the AFI telecast after all.

Thanks, Jane…

TNT airs the AFI tribute to Jane Fonda on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Check your listings for times.

Jane Fonda Walk on the[*] This alleged twist of fate involving Fonda, Ann-Margret, and Cat Ballou might only be the stuff of legend though it is reported on the IMDb as well as in Ann-Margret’s autobiography (p. 89 in my long cherished paperback copy). Anyway, we just have to take Margret’s word for it. I don’t remember reading anything about it Fonda’s book. I will say that I can imagine it happening since during that era, the mid 1960s,  Jane Fonda, Ann-Margret, and, say, Tuesday Weld loomed large as saucy starlets who could play darling ingenues one minute and then sex it up for a walk on the wild side–the title of one of Fonda’s films–the next. Btw: Per Margret, her agent signed her up for Kitten with a Whip after turning down Cat Ballou.

[1] Writer Alvin Sargant won the first of his two Oscars for his Julia screenplay; he won again for 19890’s Ordinary People, adapted from Judith Guest’s best-selling novel.

[2] The trio of Nancy Dowd, Walso Salt, and Robert C. Jones won Oscars for the Coming Home screenplay; technically, Salt and Jones received final credit for reworking Dowd’s original treatment.  Salt, who also won for 1969’s Midnight Cowboy (starring Jon Voight), has since been memorialized with an annual screenwriting award at the Sundance Film Festival named in his honor. Actress/writer/director/producer Lake Bell won that honor in 2013 for her wryly amusing In a World.

[3] “and company” includes, among others, director and co-writer Colin Higgins along with co-writer Patricia Resnick. Higgins famously wrote Harold & Maude, which was directed by the previously mentioned Hal Ashby, also of Coming Home. Higgins would later direct Parton in the rousing Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

[4] Nine to Five‘s legacy includes two TV spin-offs, one on ABC and the other syndicated, both of them featuring Rachel Denison, Parton’s younger sister, as Doralee. The show also spawned a short-lived Broadway musical featuring songs by Parton and a cast that included Tony nominee Alison Janney in the Tomlin role.

[5] Thompson won an Oscar for adapting his own play.