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Monday
Jan272014

Bridget Fonda At 50

JA from MNPP here to wish Bridget Fonda a tremendously happy 50th birthday today.

Indeed I hope that hitting 50 is such a momentously joyous experience for her that it stirs a renewed something-or-other inside her belly and reignites Ye Olde Acting Bug, because I don't know about you all but I really miss this lady.

It's been a full twelve years since she last acted - twelve years! Can you believe that? She side-stepped all of her 40s in the public eye - her last acting role was as the Snow Queen in the 2002 tele-movie of that name, about that same Hans Christian Anderson tale that inspired this year's hit Frozen. Maybe Bridget took her son to see Frozen and was all "Hey, I remember what it was like shooting icicles from my fingertips, that was fun! Acting ho!" If Frozen reinvigorates Bridget Fonda's acting career it'll be the greatest thing to come from that movie - yes, even better than "Let It Go." 

Anyway to celebrate just a smidge of the twenty or so years of her career that we do have, for now, I figured I'd single out a few of my favorite scenes from her movies. The ones that come right to mind when I think of her....

First up...

 

... the part in Singles where she goes to see Dr. Bill Pullman about getting her breasts enlarged. I figured we'd start off classy. What sweet chemistry these two have. I can't be the only one who watches this scene screaming for her to dump grunge rocker Matt Dillon, who's driven her to this place with his big-boob desires, and end up with the doc, right? This scene showcases Fonda's undervalued comic chops delightfully - her back and forth with the (hilariously dated) cup-size enhancing graphics, eager as a pup with that plus button, as the doc tries to talk her down a size or three, makes misplaced self-worth and body-sabotage positively endearing.

And then there's Single White Female, the other half of Fonda's smashing 1992 "Single" duology. 1992 was The Year when Fonda became more than "the girl that Michael J. Fox doesn't want to date in Doc Hollywood." I mean she also did a cameo in Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness this year, so right into my good graces she went. Sure Fonda's got the less showy by a mile role in Single White Female - she's the straight line to Jennifer Jason Leigh's squiggle. But Fonda still manages to give us an empathetic lead that we slowly unravel the monstrous secrets of the nightmarish roommate Hedra (that name!) alongside - horror of horrors, she masturbates! - and she's somebody we can totally understand getting a little obsessed about. I'd probably swipe that silver raincoat of hers and go boff Steven Weber too, if given the chance. Does that make me crazy? (Don't answer  that.) My favorite moment in Single White Female is towards the end when it's become all out war between the two dueling roomies...

 

... and she pops out of the ceiling like a jack-in-the-box to stab that maniac! That is movie magic. Everybody always remembers the part with the high heel from this movie (and with good reason, admittedly) but I feel as if this part deserves the love as well. How did she get up there? When did she become a gymnast? Who cares? Magic! And it leads us right to Fonda's next big role in 1993...

 

... as the super assassin in Point of No Return, John Badham's hugely silly but highly entertaining, I think, remake of La Femme Nikita. My favorite bits are all the scenes where Bridget learns about being a lady from Anne Bancroft, but then... Anne Bancroft. Come on. Anne Bancroft is in a movie, those will be the best parts.

(Especially if she's wielding a wig.) But really, amid the scenes where she's mashing caveman-like on a computer mouse or doing cartwheels while wearing hooker boots I really do think Fonda gets some lovely acting in here, where she expresses this woman's hopeless position trapped amongst death and destruction. There's a scene opposite her adorably floppy-haired stoner love interest Dermot Mulroney where she's just had to covertly kill somebody as he proposed to her fruitlessly outside the door in which you can really feel her anguish. But then she's in short shorts wrestling with Harvey Keitel underneath a falling car and we move on.

Melanie Break!

There's just one more performance that I want to delve into but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention her outstanding work in Jackie Brown - if I were listing my top ten performances in Quentin Tarantino movies Melanie would totally be on there (but hell half of them would probably be from Jackie Brown, which has been my favorite QT joint since it came out and has yet to be displaced). But the thing about Jackie Brown is it was a flop, and maybe that's the thing about most of Bridget's movies - they kept failing to connect over and over. The spectacular folly of Monkeybone in 2001 could probably be blamed at least in part for the end of both her and Brendan Fraser's careers. And I wonder if that's at least part of why she gave up the business? It had to be exhausting, time and again. Nowhere moreso than with...

... Sam Raimi's great 1998 film A Simple Plan. The film only made back about half of its budget; it did manage an Oscar nomination for Billy Bob Thornton but it's criminal that Bridget Fonda wasn't up in there too - she gives a marvelous sharp-edged performance as the pregnant Lady Macbeth pulling Bill Paxton's strings. Watch the scene where the hypothetical story of found money's revealed as truth as her husband dumps stacks upon stacks of cash on the dining room table and you can see a woman change in an instant - all of her buried fears and tension exploding into a wild-eyed release, like she's awoken from a dream. We see this play out in a ferocious scene later in the film as she details what giving the money up would do to each and every member of their family in harrowing detail in a chilling display of manipulative desperation. Even as we see that what she's saying is making her sick, there's no going back. The rest of the film we watch her pushing that old self under, the one who'd settled - she's not ever settling again.

 

I know how she felt. Bridget Fonda was just getting better and better, and then poof - she was gone. And now we're just expected to settle for the movies without her? Not fair, Bridget! Not fair.  

What are your favorite Bridget Fonda moments?

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Reader Comments (20)

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Single White Female!!!!
There should be midnight showings of this gem coast-to-coast!

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave

SWF is for me her single Best Performance simply becuase she is so 90's girl natural and has a job we believe in,yes too the lack of oscar love in 97 and 98 was a let down here were two totally different performances againsy type in totally different films by auteurs and no love at all,we'll always have 89's mandy rice davies too.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermark

Scandal--Mandy Rice-Davies. She made such a cute hooker.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

So, what happened to her? So interesting that she just stopped. In a way, you have to admire that. And of course, her performance in Lake Placid.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

As a ten-year old, I loved all things related to the movie Singles due to an older brother who was knee-deep in the Seattle/grunge/alternative scene. Fonda was no exception.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

I had a big crush on her when I was younger and sometimes I got her confused with Jodie Foster (go figure), Really hope she changes her mind.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterremy

A Simple Plan is such an underrated film. Glad you mention Bridget Fonda's performance here. She's really good! And this is one of the rare instances where the film is better than the book (the book is messed up!).

QT needs to put her in more of his films.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIsabel

Over Xmas I saw her in Godfather 3 which was showing on AMC - sooo sexy in the early scenes as Andy Garcia's take-home prize, shuffling around his apartment in a negligee like a real girl would - I kind of fell for her all over. I hated Singles though - I had just moved back from Seattle before grunge got big and fuckin' Cameron Crowe and his celebration of,you know, the normal khakis wearing guy and shit, and barely any drugs or alcohol in his little oK hotel grunge land - ugh. and me a Westerberg fan true and blue

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErich Kuersten

I'm more a fan of Point of No Return than SWF and agree that Anne Bancroft rocks her part. My favorite bit of hers is when Bridget isn't responding to Anne's instructions, as Bridget starts to get up Anne grabs her wrist and in one brief flash the dignified lady disappears and a gutteral growl escapes and you know there's a killer underneath.

I love Bridget's lesser known work in Rough Magic, she so glamorous in it. She's adorable in Doc Hollywood and It Should Happen to You. She was always good but I don't know if it was what she was offered or a poor judgement in scripts but she never managed to find that series of breakthrough roles that catapulted Aunt Jane to superstardom.

What would be really great is if Jane and Peter Fonda teamed up for a film and managed to entice Bridget out of retirement to participate.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

"Anne grabs her wrist and in one brief flash the dignified lady disappears and a gutteral growl escapes"

Yes joel6 I looooove that part. I rewatched the movie yesterday before I wrote this piece and I rewound and watched that exact bit three times, it's fantastic. I miss Bancroft so much, she was a FORCE on-screen

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJA

She was also super fun in Lake Placid, which is an underrated horror comedy.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I actually saw her in Monkeybone on the big screen. (It was free). How many careers were ruined with that movie? Surely the director, as well as the two stars, and a couple of Fox executives. Anyway, I walked out of the movie saying that Bridget Fonda's costumes (and her hot body) were the only good thing about the movie.

Ditto Bridget in Scandal. I guess I caught on to her early. Whatever happened to Bridget Fonda AND Joanna Whalley?

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

Jackie Brown. She shines on every single scene.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

She has *the* cutest nose I've ever seen. Bewitching profile.

joel6, wonder if Ally McBeal would've been a breakthrough role, but just didn't see that for what it was: iconic. She must be enjoying her and Danny Elfman's millions.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Her death in Jackie Brown is one of those, 'Oh shit' moments. It signaled stuff was about to really fall apart.

Of the many issues with The Godfather Part III, the abrupt exit of her character was the moment the red flags were raised. The fact she is such a likable presence and intriguing as this outsider, it felt at first glance that she was the new Kay Corleone to Andy Garcia's mix of Sonny/Michael, only to never be seen after her night with Andy Garcia's character goes bad.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

my favorite Bridget Fonda performance is totally SCANDAL. I haven't seen it since it came out but I remember her and Joanne Whalley both being amazing in it. Bridget's reviews were good too.

January 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I only know her from Lake Placid.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOrrin Konheim

I was just thinking about Bridget Fonda and wondering what happened to her. She is missed and I hope her life is well.

January 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

I vividly remember reading Premiere magazine at the barber shop, circa 1993/94, and seeing a write-up about hot young stars who were turning 30 (Brad Pitt, Bridget Fonda, Marisa Tomei, etc.). There also was an article about up-and-coming starlets vying for Julia Roberts' crown as America's Sweetheart. It's funny how right (Sandra Bullock), not quite (Gwyneth Paltrow), and dead wrong (Julia Ormond) that forward-looking was in retrospect. Wish I had kept that copy!

January 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I just watched Delivering Milo starring Ms. Fonda and Albert Finney. She is very good in this, one of her last films to date. She always makes an impression. I haven't seen Point of No Return, but anything with La Bancroft is a must-see for me. I miss her too, joel. She was one of the best ever.

January 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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