Losey's Little Dollhouse of Horrors

         Ouch! That was my initial reaction Joseph Losey's 1973 movie version of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 A Doll's House. What was he thinking? His choice of Jane Fonda as a sweet, submissive female is like casting Arnold Schwarzeneggar as Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol. In fact, the whole cast was misplaced -- just by being there.

         Let us start with Fonda's failure at coquetry, the most obvious being her voice: while her cringing falsetto attempts may have raised her to only one octave below the average female voice, it still did not cure the hoarseness. "I am frog, hear me croak" comes to mind. Her voice alone could have kept her from a convincing performance. However, it had the help of her abominable acting: Did she really think that those sporadic, gleeful jumps of joy appeared natural? Pinocchio could have done it more gracefully -- before he became a real boy. And the only thing natural about her line-delivery was that she was not holding the script right in front of her. (I am not convinced she was not reading from hidden flash cards, though; perhaps they were placed too high, which would explain her compulsive springing.)

         The sting of Fonda's performance, unfortunately, was not lessened by the skills of her co-stars. Even had I managed to forget the fact that Torvald (David Warner) resembled the comedian Gallager, I would still have been haunted by the corpse-like visage of the melancholy Christine (Delphine Seyrig). I mean, the only part of the movie that made sense at all was that Nora lost touch with Christine after she had married Torvald: if Nora found her half as boring as I did, it is no wonder. And what can I say about poor Krogstad (Edward Fox)? His stoic countenance, coupled with his exaggerated explosions of emotion, made him more amusing than pitiable. Talk about overacting!

         I am so glad I saw this movie, a travesty of Ibsen's original play. I may be able to warn some people before they hurt themselves on it.

Naomi Deardorff

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