Sunday in New York (1963)

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Dedicated to the proposition that every pretty girl receives sooner or later.

In conjunction with Valentine’s Day, the Warner Archives released a slew of romantically themed films, among them 1963’s Sunday in New York, which they were also kind enough to send us a review copy of. It stars Cliff Robertson, Jane Fonda, Rod Taylor, and Robert Culp and was adapted from Norman Krasna’s play. Still with me? Appreciably not stars we mention often, or ever, but we always want to broaden our perspective.

Sunday in New York isn’t bad at all.

Jane Fonda plays lonely and virginal (literally) Eileen whose just broken up with her fiancé Russ (Robert Culp) and to cope heads to the big city to visit her brother Adam (Cliff Robertson). The cause of the breakup is Eileen’s refusal to have sex prior to marriage. This is somewhat odd. Not the decision itself, but that while exploring the city she meets Mike (Rod Taylor) on a city bus. A BUS! Shortly thereafter the two are down to their skivvies so minds can change quickly.

At this point Russ reappears, Eileen plays Mike off as her brother (who Russ has never met). It gets a bit crazy at that point, but in a slapstick way which is actually quite good. There is a backstory of sorts with her actual brother consoling her with clichés that all men are not as pushy as Russ was on the subject. Of course, out of the other side of his mouth he is working on the same goals with his girlfriend Mona.

It’s funny in a lighthearted way and very well written. Some parts which were probably deemed a bit more risqué then haven’t aged well, but again most movies from the era would show the same.

Some of these more ribald lines are accompanied by what I found to be rather abrupt camera zooms and cuts, seemingly to draw more attention to the line. Surely the audiences of 1963 could catch an innuendo without such trickery, right? Still charming though in an old fashioned sort of way, which is really how this old movie feels. Quite like an old slipper which slides right on and makes you comfortable.

The cast is good and do really well. Over time I’ve forgotten that Jane Fonda was actually an actress at some point. More often than not the image of her in my mind is that of activist, Mrs. Ted Turner, or workout queen. I did find it amusing that twenty or so years after this the lead actress was gyrating in ugly leotards and legwarmers. But that’s my shallowness showing. I’d do the same for that type of money.

“Environmentally” Sunday in New York isn’t an overly realistic film, at least not from today’s perspective. Everyone in the picture is white, young, and indescribably pretty or handsome. No dogs here. There are rare glimpses as well of the City, but most was obviously shot on set and it is unclear how much really was shot on location.

And for the life of me I still can’t get over that she picked up a guy on a bus. Sure it happens but today it probably happens much less, even in areas where mass transit is extremely popular. Being in the South, we avoid busses and trains at all costs as we simply must all have our own car- sometimes two or three even.

As most all films do, this also reflects the feeling of the time in which it was made. These were the waning months of the Kennedy administration, and the hype of the Beatles, civil rights, and the sexual revolution were all just around the corner. It’s very interesting to wonder how this might have been made differently if only four or five years later.

Something tells me at the least we’d lose the jazzy Peter Nero score, which would be hard to recover from.

Again, this just came out in a remastered version from Warner Archives. It looks good and is a great little movie for date night, or next Valentine’s day, if you can wait that long. It’s much better than most all romantic comedies made today. Get it at The WB Shop.

And why exactly does that Jennifer Anniston keep getting work? Don’t get me started.

Review copy provided by Warner Brothers.

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