Sunday, July 12, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Sunday in New York (1963) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

Rod Taylor and Jane Fonda star in the delightful romantic comedy SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963), which was recently released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

I first saw this film back in 2009 and revisited it with Robert Osborne hosting live at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival. Although I enjoyed it very much both times, over time I'd forgotten just how funny this movie is; I enjoyed revisiting it tremendously. Small wonder that Turner Classic Movies is showing it later this month as part of its Feel Good Films series.

The plot, written by Norman Krasna based on his play, concerns a virtuous young lady named Eileen (Jane Fonda) who's just been dumped by her boyfriend Russ (Robert Culp) because she wouldn't agree to sex before marriage.

Eileen travels from Albany to the New York City apartment of her brother Adam (Cliff Robertson), an airline pilot, to lick her wounds and seek his advice. Adam promises Eileen that he doesn't sleep with women, when the reality is he's engineering his entire day in an attempt to be alone with his girlfriend Mona (Jo Morrow) for that very purpose. (His "out" in fibbing is that they don't "sleep"...)

Eileen and Mike (Rod Taylor) have an all-time "cute meet" on a bus when the pin on her jacket becomes stuck to his suit, and after working through some initial bumps they hit it off and spend the day together. They head back to Adam's apartment to dry off after being caught in a downpour, after which Eileen, who's decided to put her past morals behind her, attempts to seduce Mike. Mike refuses when he learns she's inexperienced, and as they're sitting discussing the situation in bathrobes...Eileen's errant boyfriend Russ throws open the apartment door to surprise her with a proposal.

Russ assumes that Mike is Adam, whom he's never met, and the stupefied Mike and Eileen don't correct him...and then just a few minutes later, Adam walks in. Even though I'd seen the movie multiple times previously, the dialogue and expressions in this sequence had me laughing so hard that my eyes watered. It's truly hilarious, especially watching Adam's face as he tries to size up the situation he just walked into.

The entire cast, which also includes Jim Backus as Adam's boss, is terrific. Particular kudos go to Taylor and Robertson, who are pitch perfect throughout. As good as Culp is here, he's no competition for Taylor in what must be one of the most appealing male lead performances in romantic comedy history. It's 100% believable that Eileen would fall in love with Taylor's character in the space of a single Sunday.

The movie begins with a slightly theatrical feel; one can clearly imagine Fonda and Robertson's dialogue being delivered on a stage set. That said, the film opens up the script nicely, including sequences at Rockefeller Center and Central Park, and as the film continues it loses the stagey feel and settles into something which feels a little more natural. Taylor's complete ease is a big part of that, along with the expert comedic playing of everyone in the film.

As I noted after seeing the film at the TCM Fest, the movie had both an American and a British ending; the British ending, which was screened at the festival, has Robertson's Adam walk in on Mike and Eileen, see them kissing, and walk out again, smiling. The End.

The U.S. version is very close to that but concludes with a narration by Robertson which begins "And so they were married," which is heard as he walks out and smiles. The slightly less racy U.S. version wanted audiences to be very sure that the couple married and lived happily ever after, and it's that version which is on the Warner Archive Blu-ray. It seemed as though Fonda's last line of dialogue was more clear on the Blu-ray than the DVD, but I'll have to pull the DVD out of storage to compare. Someday.

The movie was directed by Peter Tewksbury and filmed in widescreen Metrocolor by Leo Tover. It runs a perfectly calibrated 105 minutes.

Watch for Jim Hutton in a cameo rowing on the lake in Central Park.

The Warner Archive previously released this film on a remastered DVD in 2011.

The Blu-ray disc includes the trailer. The film looks and sounds terrific. A very happy thumbs up from me, I'd class SUNDAY IN NEW YORK as a "must buy" with lots of "re-watch" value. I won't wait several more years for my next viewing!

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.


Blogger mel said...

When I first read about this film late in 1963 (it was released early in 1964) I never thought I'd ever bother to go to see it - until I read further that two favorite musicians of mine, Peter Nero and Mel Torme, provided the music. That abruptly changed my mind, and I've since watched it dozens of times; it is very entertaining, Nero's music is wonderful (you don't even have to have watched the movie to enjoy the soundtrack album) and it has become a firm favorite. I'm looking forward to upgrading to the BluRay in the not too distant future when the world gets back to normal.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Mel, I love that it was the music which persuaded you to try the movie -- the music really gives the film that extra touch of class. I'm delighted that it turned out to be a favorite for you too! I've watched it three or four times now and it never fails to make me laugh.

Best wishes,

9:17 AM  
Blogger Kenji said...

The Hutton cameo is clever, since he shot “A Period of Adjustment” with Fonda just the year before. And because this Central Park rower, seen only from behind, has brought the portable radio that triggers an argument about Peter Nero, who shows up later. Turns out both our lead characters are newspaper music critics, a subject that oddly enough never comes up again, despite many musical references. There are plenty of in-jokes, though, as when the playboy airline-pilot brother is cornered into proposing to him main squeeze, causing him to contemplate his aging visage in a bistro mirror whose frame reads “est. 1923” — the year of Robertson’s actual birth. Great reviews, by the way!

12:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Kenji,

That's a great point about Fonda having recently worked with Hutton. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the movie, and I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

Best wishes,

10:07 PM  

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