Thursday, April 07, 2005

"Sorta Fonda Her"



Was watching Jane Fonda on The David Letterman Show last night. She dropped out of films for a good number of years and has written a new book and has now gotten back into the limelight a bit.

An early time I ever took notice of Ms. Fonda was one Summer Sunday back in 1968, when I was reading the comic section of the newspaper, and at the bottom of one of the pages was a 1/3 page advertizement for Barbarella. The movie looked like something I'd want to see, being both a comics and sci-fi fan, but back then my choices were somewhat limited when it came to seeing a new movie. Either I'd have to go to The Plaza(a movie theatre in another town), or the local drive-ins; plus, all the new flicks usually took from 3 to 6 months before they were ever shown here in "Nowheresville", KY. I had seen Jane Fonda in a few flicks before, but to me she was just another actress.

I had bought the Grove Press Edition of Barbarella, which sported a photo of Jane Fonda in costume on the front cover a bit before. And even though it had a photo cover, for "some" reason it didn't dawn on me that a movie had been made.

The book read much like the many undergrounds I'd picked up; the French didn't have cencorship in their comics. I thought it was pretty darned good, and this only made me want to see the movie even more so.

And finally, it was being shown at our drive-in. A fellow comic collector friend of mine expressed interest in seeing it as well, but he lived around 20 miles from here and didn't have a car, so I told him I'd drive up and get him that Friday night and we'd go. That Friday it began raining; a hard rain off and on all day, but it slacked up towards movie time so we went ahead.

And then, it started raining again, and rained more so all night, so we got to view this flick in between the swishes of the windshield wipers.

Finally about 11 PM, the movie was over so I was going to drive him home, but it just started pouring! I asked him if he'd like to stay over in the guest room at my folk's house that night and I'd drive him back in the morning, but he had promiced his folks he'd be back after the movie was over, so I started on the 20 mile journey to take him home. We got about 10 miles from the theatre and started up a steep hill, and about 1/2 way up it, the car died! Drowned out from the torrents of rain! Here we were out in the middle of the country at nearly midnight in a pouring rain, with me outside with no jacket on, getting soaked to the bone and waving a flashlight to keep oncoming cars from hitting us. Finally I put on the blinkers and walked up the hill to a house and hesitantly knocked on the door, expecting some irate person to give me a good cursing for awakening them at that hour. But the person there was very nice and let me come inside and use their telephone to call my dad (the difference in living in a small community in the 60's instead of a city, I'm sure). Dad wasn't the happiest person in the world at that hour, but he came to help us get the auto up to that person's driveway to leave until the next morning, then drive my buddy on home, then take me on home as well.

I really expected him to be more mad about the situation than he was, but he was actually pretty understanding about the whole thing, and the next morning took me back to the house where I'd left the car. I thanked the person again that lived there for their help and all, and got in the vehicle, which had since dried out , and with rain gone, and it started right up, so I drove it home. I didn't find out until a couple of months later while visiting my great uncle in Louisville where the car drowned out again, that it had a cracked coil, and when water got up in it, it would short out the electrical system, causing it to die. He changed the coil for me, and afterwards I never had trouble with that car drowning out again from the rain.

And, what did I think of the flick? Well...somewhat disapointed, of course. Barbarella was a product of the late camp era, expressing "groovy and mod-type" themes and probably more enjoyable had I'd been doing L.S.D., or some such mind-bending drug. Actually, it was just out-right silly in most places with it's only true value giving spawn to the name of a future rock group (Duran Duran, named afyer a scientist in the film).

And, I've seen the movie a few times since (somewhat edited) on the t.v.; looking back at it I feel it wasn't worth the effort in 1968 for all the trouble it caused me. I never realized that Jane Fonda was around 30 years old when she made that movie (she's 67 now), although she certainly didn't look it.

I will admit that even with all of its silliness and pop-art style (and really just God-Awful "acting"), Barbarella was a fairly faithful adaptation of its source material; maybe even more so than some of the comic book adaptation flicks of recent years.

And , what did I think of Barbarella, herself? Well...she's psychedelic.

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