Pick Your Fonda Day!
Suggestions for the whole family.
Welcome to Movie Star March Madness, our month-long watch-a-long and countdown to Season 2 of The Vince Vaughn-a-thon. Every day in March, we’re celebrating a different actor, movie star, or famous family - one of which will be our focus for Season 2. Play along with us and leave your daily reviews in the comments. For the full schedule and info, read here.
Henry Fonda: The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Tom Joad returns to his home after a jail sentence to find his family kicked out of their farm due to foreclosure. He catches up with them on his Uncle’s farm, and joins them the next day as they head for California and a new life… Hopefully.
The following originally appeared in the piece Films Devised From the Great American Novelist.
Before you even press play, you know you are in for a treat. The cast and crew is a Who’s Who of Golden Age Hollywood: Tom is portrayed by all-American beau Henry Fonda, who received an Academy Award nomination for his performance. Jane Darwell won the golden statue for her performance as the family matriarch, Ma Joad, and director John Ford took one home as well. Ford, best known for other American classics starring Fonda and John Wayne, like 1939’s Young Mr. Lincoln and 1938’s Stagecoach respectively, was considered a surprising choice for the feature as his Conservative politics contrasted the far-leaning leftist politics of the novel.
Despite some unexpectedly large differences from the source material, the picture is still a strong adaptation. This story of poverty, desperation, and resilience hit audiences hard in 1940, right off of the Great Depression, the backdrop of the film, and hurling towards the upcoming Second World War. Its narrative still rings true today as many Americans face unemployment — watching this in the midst of a pandemic could be too timely for some.
Fonda is always provocative, the film features John Carradine’s interesting take on former preacher Jim Casy, and the film’s design elements really highlight the best of black-and-white camera work.
Bridget Fonda: A Simple Plan (1998)
Captivated by the lure of sudden wealth, the quiet rural lives of two brothers erupt into conflicts of greed, paranoia and distrust when over $4 million in cash is discovered at the remote site of a downed small airplane. Their simple plan to retain the money while avoiding detection opens a Pandora’s box when the fear of getting caught triggers panicked behavior and leads to virulent consequences.
Portions of the following come from the piece Staff Picks: Winter (Not So) Wonderland.
A good morality tale needs a good set of characters, and this one is brought to life by an excellent cast. Bill Paxton was so good at playing a believable Middle-American, Billy Bob Thornton gives a trademark sneaky-good performance, and Bridget Fonda acts as the moral compass of the piece.
The movie really is a great litmus test for one’s morality. When the characters discover the money, you begin your own what-ifs:
Maybe I would just keep some of it.
Of course I’d take some — at least!
I’d run off to South America with it all stuffed in my pants.
If, by the end of the movie, you are thinking anything except, “I would give back all of the money immediately if this were to ever happen to me,” then you’re dumber than any of the fools in the movie. At least you’ve been warned.
Jane Fonda: 80 for Brady (2023)
A quartet of elderly best friends decide to live life to the fullest by taking a wild trip to the Super Bowl LI to see their hero Tom Brady play.
The following is a portion of Football Movies: 80 for Brady.
Breaking out of old folks’ homes, hooking up with former footballers, and creating sequined “80 For Brady” jerseys is just the tip of the iceberg in this madcap romp that leans on the fantastical. From Sally Field impressing Guy Fieri with her hot-wing downing skills to Rita Moreno whooping Marshawn Lynch’s ass in poker (I swear to God I didn’t make any of that up) – you almost start to believe it when the quartet breaks into the offensive coaches’ booth during the third quarter and hypes Tom up for his historic 28-3 comeback.
Yes, this movie creates an alternate timeline where Tom has no fight left in him – until four old ladies put on a headset and give him the pep talk he needs.
But for some reason, none of that really seems to matter. It makes no sense when Jane Fonda is known for her best-selling Gronkowski erotic fan-fiction or when Lily Tomlin is an exceptional quarterback in her own right (I swear to God I didn’t make any of that up). This is not a movie about the plot. It’s about heart and perseverance and grit and determination and optimism and love.
Credit: Each plot synopsis comes from Letterboxd via TMDb.
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Great post. Was dying to read about the new Brady movie so thanks for this. Also, every time I see Billy Bob Thornton’ mug in the “A Simple Plan” promo still with a Bridget Fonda, I think he looks like Tony Danza. How is that even possible?