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USA 1967
Directed by
Gene Saks
106 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Barefoot In The Park

Gene Saks's Barefoot In The Park is entrenched in the conservative, middle-class American values of Hollywood film-making that were just about to be swept away by the counter-cultural shift of the late 1960s and the “raging bull” generation of directors like Coppola, Scorsese, Ashby et al.

Jane Fonda plays Corie Bratter, a kookily, high-spirited lass who with her brand new lawyer husband, Paul (Robert Redford) set up in a one room, cold water flat in New York. She wants to make love all day, he wants to gets his career started and with the input of  faded bon viveur, Victor Velasco (Charles Boyer), and Connie’s widowed mother (Mildred Natwick) the basic ant vs grasshopper scenario plays out.

Neil Simon, in his screenwriting debut, adapted his own hit 1963 Broadway play which had starred Redford and Natwick. Some of the writing is clever with the newly-wed “first row” standing out and the four leads give winning performances with a pre-radicalized Fonda especially good, but what is lost from the theatrical production is not made up for by first-time director Gene Saks’ charmless transposition to the screen. Ultimately, however, it is the film’s Saturday Evening Post-ish coyness which is the film’s undoing. Locked in an era of innocence-by-denial it now seems more perverse than naive. 




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