Barefoot in the Park (1967): Gene Saks Pedestrian Version of Neil Simon, Starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford

Commercial playwright Neil Simon adapted to the screen his smash Broadway production, the minor domestic comedy “Barefoot In The Park,” as a star vehicle for the young and rising stars, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford (in the first of their second teaming).

Paul (Robert Redford) and Corie Bratter (Jane Fonda), the newly wed are very much in love, but they each have to adjust (read: compromise) to married life their ultra-small and modest Greenwich Village apartment.

Their personalities are defined by contrasting temperaments. Paul is a well-groomed, buttoned-down, straight-arrow lawyer, while Corie is a free spirit and flighty girl, who won’t let anything disturb her romantic fantasies.

Aside from the five-flight climb and the hole in their skylight, the Bratters must also contend with eccentric upstairs neighbor Victor Velasco (Charles Boyer), who must walk through their apartment in order to get to his flat.

As a result, the ever resourceful Corie concocts a scheme to get her mother (Mildred Natwick) together with Mr. Velasco.  However, as expected, the  evening goes awry, casting shadows on the elders’ potential romance as well the very viability of the Bratters’ marriage.

Mildly amusing, but not terribly smart or original, the tale details Corie’s various (largely unsuccessful) efforts to loosen up her tight hubby.

Needless to say, all ends well, and in the denouement, there are two happy, better adjusted couples.

Gene Saks’ direction is pedestrian and plodding, which means the movie is still a play, though Redford and Fonda are appealing and there is strong chemistry between them.

 

Oscar Nominations: 1

Supporting Actress: Mildred Natwick

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Supporting Actress Oscar was Estelle Parsons for “Bonnie and Clyde.”

 

Credits

 

Paramount (Hal Wallis production)

Released: January 1, 1967.

DVD: September 21, 1999

 

 

 

 

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