Starring: JW, Nell Potts, Roberta Wallach, Judith Lowry, David Spielberg
Directed by: Paul Newman
Summary: JW plays Beatice Hunsdorfer, the highly opinionated mother of two teenaged girls: Ruth, the out-going pep squad type whose epilepsy is what ties her to the family and inwardly-drawn Matilda, who loves science and animals.A mother who's housekeeping skills are non-existent (except if you count yelling to her daughter to clean up the rabbit crap) and who's motherly advice consists of giving her teenage daughter a drag on a cigarette to calm her down after a bad dream, you just don't believe that she'll ever get her act together. But the power of Woodward's acting ability is that you follow her throughout the story wanting to change your mind about her, but knowing you'll regret it if you do. The title refers to Matilda's science fair project and is an allegory for how being exposed to something toxic can drastically alter your outcome.
Quote:Beatrice: “Matilda, would you go get your sister over there before she gets pregnant!”ù
Ruth: “Can I be a waitress?”ù
Beatrice: “You bet your sweet ass you'll be a waitress!”ù
Trivia: The play won the Pulitzer Prize. Nell Potts is Nell Newman, JW & PLN's daughter. Roberta Wallach is the daughter of actors Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson, this was her first film role. Joanne won Best Actress at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Newman claims that this character is the only one of Woodward's that she ever brought home with her.
The Newman Factor & Rating:Joanne has said playing Beatrice was one of her toughest challenges as an actress. Despite not having any lines, Judith Lowry is the real scene stealer here as Nanny Annie, an elderly boarder that the Hunsdorfers take in to earn extra money. PLN's directing is understated and allows Joanne to shine. Even poor little Nell Potts has a few moments of brilliance, but we're all glad she decided to make pretzels for a living instead! Newman Factor: 8, Rating: 8.