Barefoot in the Park (1967)
Barefoot in the Park (1967)

Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

Release Date: May 25th, 1967 MPAA Rating: G

Director: Gene Saks Actors: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Charles Boyer, Mildred Natwick, Herbert Edelman, Mabel Albertson

 


 

“W

e just got married!” ecstatically shouts Corie Bratter (Jane Fonda) as she’s driven in a horse-drawn carriage through town, straight to the Plaza Hotel in New York. With her new husband, up-and-coming lawyer Paul (Robert Redford), a grand honeymoon awaits, especially considering that they’re so in love that they can’t keep their hands – and mouths – off of each other. They’re also fun-loving, sarcastic, and playful, joking with one another at every turn. “I can’t kiss you anymore. My lips are numb.”

“I have to go to work!” After a record-setting number of days locked away in their room, Paul finally leaves for his job. But he’ll be back around 5:30 so that they can continue their unprecedented revelry. And shortly thereafter, they move into a new apartment, where the clientele is less stuffy. Unfortunately, the place is located on the fifth floor (the very top) – a stairwell trek that will surely grow exhausting over time. But young, fresh love compensates for a considerable amount of little inconveniences and problems – from the lack of steam heat to the hole in the skylight to the eccentric neighbors to the pocket-size bedroom.

Written by Neil Simon from his play, this comical conundrum of a setup promises lighthearted yet trying scenarios for the newlyweds; everything seems to be designed against their success, even if the start is full of trivial hurdles. Yet their amorous maneuvers – they’re literally, physically inseparable on many occasions – are cheery and inspiring. It’s a lot of fun to see these two having so much fun. Of course, the tiny nuisances keep piling up, steadily eroding the high spirits. With Corie’s bipolar-like mood-swings, her optimism ebbing and flowing with every smile or frown from every random encounter, the atmosphere could shift wildly at any moment. “Paul, do you hate me?”

It clearly resembles its stage origins, with limited sets, few characters, and unremitting dialogue, but the leads are absolutely charming enough to carry the picture, becoming more and more amusing as they tackle mild dilemmas and arrange a matchmaking session between Corie’s humorously cynical mother (Mildred Natwick) and the nutty, attic-dwelling, “Bluebeard” Victor Velasco (Charles Boyer) – both giving exceptional supporting performances. The script is continuously blithe and incredibly hilarious, progressing as if a boisterous test to determine whether or not the Bratters’ marriage can endure the inanity of a youthful, energetic, full-throttle lifestyle. “I’m beginning to wonder if you’re capable of having a good time!”

Despite the relationship camp, eventually a conflict surfaces: do they have enough in common to stay together? Is her wild side too much for his calmer, more reserved, professional outlook to handle? Even when they fight, there’s a suspicious levity to the ordeal. They’re obviously meant to be together; no mere marital spat can keep them apart forever, even when Corie demands a divorce after every disagreement. And the finale is spot-on: with a touch of reversed roles and just deserts and additional laughs, “Barefoot in the Park” is perfectly romantic.

– Mike Massie

  • 9/10