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Girlfriends Movie Review

mayron melanie christopher mike

Nobody asked me, but I always thought that Melanie Mayron was among the most appealing actresses of her generation in the days when she created delightful characters like Ginger, Marsha, and Susan in enjoyable flicks like Harry and Tonto, Car Wash, and Girlfriends. She was healthy, self-possessed, and reassuring, with no actressy mannerisms or ticks. Even though Mayron, then 26, was cast as a young photographer opposite some formidable actors in Girlfriends (Bob Balaban, Christopher Guest, Kathryn Walker, Eli Wallach, Amy Wright, Kristopher Tabori, and the late Viveca Lindfors, Mike Kellin, and Kenneth McMillan), she walked off with the movie. But Warner Bros. in 1978 wasn't Warner Bros. in 1938. There were no Melanie Mayron projects in the works. Instead, there were a long series of prestigious character roles. By 1987, a lean, re-sculpted Mayron emerged as Melissa Steadman on thirtysomething (ABC, 1987–91). She was playing a photographer again, and she won her first Emmy, but she looked sad-eyed and high-strung, perfect for the series, but rather less so for those who remember her natural joie de vivre as Susan Weinblatt. (A hint of that playful quality could be seen when she played a cop named Crystal in 1990's My Blue Heaven.) Girlfriends was made in the very early days of the A.F.I. grant program, designed to encourage women to make their own films. The $10,000 seed money got the project off and rolling, but did not lead to a directing career for Claudia Weill. (Her two follow-up films included 1980's sprightly but little seen It's My Turn and 1988's Once a Hero.) Screenwriter Vicki Polon re-surfaced as a co-scripter on 1993's Mr. Wonderful.

1978 (PG) 87m/C Melanie Mayron, Anita Skinner, Eli Wallach, Christopher Guest, Amy Wright, Viveca Lindfors, Bob Balaban, Kathryn Walker, Kristopher Tabori, Mike Kellin, Kenneth McMillan; D: Claudia Weill; W: Vicki Polon; C: Fred Murphy. Sundance Film Festival ‘78: Grand Jury Prize. VHS

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