Barefoot in the Park

Year: 1967
Studio: Paramount
Director: Gene Saks
Writer: Neil Simon
Cast: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda

This is one of those very New York, Henry Mancini, early Neil Simon-era romantic comedies of errors, and it's a great entree into an entire film movement if you're not familiar with it.

We meet Paul (Robert Redford) and Corrie (Jane Fonda) riding through the streets of Manhattan in a horse drawn carriage having just been married, kissing passionately and completely lost in each other.

They arrive at their honeymoon hotel where they promptly put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door and lock themselves in for days on end. If you need any further indication that it's a 60s romcom, just watch for the maid and bellhop who discuss how long the couple have been in their room with aw-shucks eyerolls.

Presently Corrie and Paul move to their new apartment on their apartment building's top floor, Corrie fussily trying to make everything perfect while Paul tries to get back into the groove of his work as a lawyer climbing the ladder of influence.

Various archetypes from the electrician to the delivery guy come up panting and gasping, smiling politely while Corrie's looking but shaking their heads behind her back, wondering how she can be so spry.

But when her classy mother Ethel comes to visit it drives a wedge into the couple's bliss, only not the way you think. The upstairs neighbour Victor is a foreign gadfly man-about-town who proceeds to seduce both Corrie and Ethel with charm to spare, taking the entire party out on the town and spending a freezing night going from his apartment (which can only be reached by ladder) for special aperitifs to his favourite restaurant on Staten Island.

After Paul complains once too often about the hour, the weather and all the work he has to do Corrie accuses him of being a stuff shirt, he accuses her of being too wild and flighty, and before long they're in the mother of all marital spats, Corrie going as far as demanding a divorce.

The cinematography is very two-camera sitcom style, though this did come out on the cusp of the great changes cineastes know about 1967 thanks to films like Easy Rider and Bonnie and Clyde. Barefoot in the Park, along with Dr Dolittle, was one of the last gasps of old Hollywood.

The script and performances are also very typical of the genre, inspired by the crafts of stageplay in both the patter of dialogue and the staging of the action. If there's one criticism to be had, it's that it all ends very suddenly, feeling like they ran out of paper for the script or film to shoot it.

But for the characterisations and the creative execution straight of the Breakfast at Tiffany's playbook, look no further.

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