Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Sunday in New York (1963)

SUNDAY IN NEW YORK is a very funny early '60s romantic comedy somewhat in the tradition of Doris Day and Rock Hudson's films.

I liked this movie from the moment Mel Torme started singing the title song over the opening credits. The film has a good score by Peter Nero, who has a cameo late in the movie.

The film is set entirely on, you guessed it, a Sunday in New York. Eileen (Jane Fonda) arrives in the big city to visit her brother Adam (Cliff Robertson), an airline pilot. Eileen is getting over a breakup with a serious boyfriend, who dumped her because she wouldn't agree to premarital sex.

Later that day, Eileen and Mike (Rod Taylor) "meet cute" on a 5th Avenue bus when the pin on Eileen's jacket snags Mike's suit. After a bumpy start, Mike and Eileen hit it off and spend the day together, eventually getting caught in the rain.

Mike and Eileen head back to Adam's apartment to dry off, and lo and behold Eileen's ex-boyfriend Russ (Robert Culp) arrives to apologize and propose marriage; because Eileen and Mike are both in bathrobes, Russ immediately assumes Mike is Eileen's brother, as they've never met. And we're off to the races...the moment when the real brother (Robertson) shows up leads to a couple of the funniest laugh-out-loud scenes I've seen in a long time. The movie made me think of some of the funniest episodes of one of my favorite TV series, FRASIER.

There's also an amusing subplot concerning Adam's attempts to spend time with his girlfriend Mona (Jo Morrow), which builds to a nice conclusion. Jim Backus plays Adam's airline boss.

The film is well-played by the entire cast, with particular kudos to the charming Taylor, whose expressions during the film's funniest scenes are a riot. When Taylor gets wound up, he can't keep his native Aussie accent from sneaking out, which I thought inadvertently made the film even funnier. Robertson also had some excellent comedic moments.

The screenplay was by Norman Krasna, based on his own play. Given Krasna's track record, it shouldn't be a surprised this film was such fun. Krasna's credits include comedy classics such as THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934), BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), MR. AND MRS. SMITH (1941), IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941), and PRINCESS O'ROURKE (1943), along with many other entertaining movies.

SUNDAY IN NEW YORK was directed by Peter Tewksbury. It runs 105 minutes.

IMDb credits Jim Hutton as being a man in a Central Park rowboat. I'll be watching for him next time.

Parental advisory: This movie was released a couple of years before the current movie rating system went into effect, and the dialogue is surprising for its era. I would consider it a PG-13 rating due to frank discussions about premarital sex, as well as a couple of references to streetwalkers. The film's ultimate message is positive: good things happen to those who wait. I found the film presented a nice starting point for discussion with one of my teens.

SUNDAY IN NEW YORK has been released on VHS. It has not had a DVD release.

It can be seen on Turner Classic Movies, which will be showing the movie on December 21, 2009, and January 11, 2010.

The trailer can be seen at the TCM website.

February 2011 Update: Good news for fans of this film -- it's just been released by the Warner Archive in a remastered widescreen print.

2014 Update: I had a wonderful opportunity to see this film on a big screen in 35mm at the TCM Classic Film Festival. I noticed Jim Hutton's cameo this time! Even more interesting: we saw a British print with a different ending.

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