Jane Fonda Tells Me About Walk On The Wild Side, With Stanwyck As Lesbian Madam


This week’s column is a sublime interview with the great Jane Fonda, and I would have hated myself if I’d wrapped it up without asking her about two of my movie club’s all-time faves.

There’s the bizarre racial melodrama Hurry Sundown and the darkly sexy Walk on the Wild Side, set in a New Orleans brothel.

“I think Hurry Sundown is just plain bad,” admitted Jane.

“But Walk on the Wild Side is interesting. To work with Barbara Stanwyck, Anne Baxter, and Laurence Harvey, it was an interesting experience.

“My first movie was Tall Story and I thought I’d never do another movie in Hollywood. I hated the experience. Then I got offered Kitty Twist [her prostitute-turned-hero character in Wild Side] and she was so different and so not the girl-next-door cheerleader, that I decided to do that and that’s what got me back in.”

By the way, Stanwyck plays Jo, the bordello madam who has a legless husband and who’s in love with a sculptor/whore played by the icy Capucine.

A new book called Barbara Stanwyck, The Miracle Woman by Dan Callahan says columnist Louella Parsons was outraged that Stanwyck would play such a role.

Replied the actress, “What do you want them to do, get a real madam and a real lesbian?”

Alas, the author adds, “Capucine is such a weak and bored scene partner that Stanwyck has to work in a kind of void.”

Not that Stanwyck’s role is that amazing, he adds:

“Jo Courtney is a shallow conception, a woman who needs to be ‘explained’ by some Penguin Freud, a lesbian who doesn’t even get to be a real lesbian…

“Instead, we’re made to understand that she’s frigid.”

The film, Callahan writes, “is only enlivened by a baby-faced Jane Fonda, shaking her chassis as a runaway-turned-hooker” and by the great credits sequence involving a cat and a theme song.

And let’s not forget Anne Baxter as a Mexican lady with a taco stand slash religious temple.

Anyway, thank you, Jane, for our walk on the stimulating side.