Documentary focusing on 25 year-old actress Jane Fonda as she and her director Andreas Voutsinas prepare a stage play called The Fun Couple for Broadway.

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Documentary focusing on 25 year-old actress Jane Fonda as she and her director Andreas Voutsinas prepare a stage play called The Fun Couple for Broadway.

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1962 (USA)  »

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This rare documentary was screened in September 2009 at the IFC Center in Lower Manhattan. See more »

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Early Fonda as failure.
25 October 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Less than a decade before arguably becoming America's finest leading film actress of her day we have this DA Pennabaker documentary chronicling Jane Fonda falling flat on her face in a Broadway play that closes after three performances. Chain smoking and understandably insecure the whiny, shrill stage performance of the stunning beauty gives no indication of the outstanding film career she was about to embark on.

The film opens with Fonda and Bradford Dillman rehearsing The Fun Couple, a play about a young married couple in the awkward early stages of developing their relationship. It is more or less the same dynamic that launched Fonda's early film career in light comedy roles opposite Tony Perkins, Robert Redford and Rod Taylor but without the benefit of cutting and close-ups Fonda projects amateurishly in spite of bouncing around the stage in eye catching pajama top. Granted, the abysmal material she is working with offers her no assistance, she clearly lacks the chops for the Broadway stage with noted theatre critic Walter Kerr calling the play one of the five worst he has ever witnessed.

Overall the film is an interesting look at the young Fonda, filled with professional incertitude glomming onto her mentor, director boyfriend, Svengali like Andreas Voutsinas for support and guidance as they take the show on the road where things don't look too promising for the production from the outset.

While the doc is centered on Fonda it also offers up some intriguing behind the scenes moments of the tensions of presenting live theatre from curtain calls to the ugly reality of cast and crew being tossed from the Lyceum after the play bombs.

I'm not familiar with the rest of Fonda's stage performances over her career but if this is any indication of what she had to offer it is clear she chose wisely a future in Hollywood where super-stardom awaited and Oscar noms piled up as the camera discovered or covered what the stage exposed; a brittle undeveloped ingénue with an incredible head of hair, knockout figure and a mug that could launch more boats than Helen of Troy.


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