Barefoot in the Park (film)
Barefoot in the Park is a 1967 American romantic comedy film starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. Based on Neil Simon's 1963 play of the same name, it focuses on newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter and their adventures living in a minuscule fifth floor walk-up apartment in a Greenwich Village brownstone. Stuffed-shirt Paul is a hard-working young attorney just starting his practice, while spontaneous bride Corie is determined to create a romantic environment in two rooms without heat, a hole in the skylight, and oddball neighbors.
|Barefoot in the Park|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gene Saks|
|Produced by||Hal B. Wallis|
|Written by||Neil Simon|
|Based on||Barefoot in the Park|
by Neil Simon
|Music by||Neal Hefti|
|Edited by||William A. Lyon|
Hal Wallis Productions
Nancy Enterprises Inc.
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$28 million|
The title refers to Corie's lamentation that Paul will not go running barefoot in Washington Square Park with her because of his sober and cautious demeanor. The phrase becomes emblematic of the differences between the two of them, and is made manifest in the film's climactic scene.
The film's screenplay was written by Simon. Gene Saks directed Redford, reprising his Broadway role of Paul, and Fonda, who replaced the play's Elizabeth Ashley. Mildred Natwick reprises her stage role as the bride's mother, Charles Boyer is featured as the eccentric upstairs neighbor, and Herb Edelman reprises his stage role as a telephone installer. The lead female role had been offered to Natalie Wood who had already played opposite Redford in two films. Wood declined the offer because she wanted to take time off from acting.
Corie (Jane Fonda), a free spirited young woman, and Paul Bratter (Robert Redford), a conservative, less free-spirited man, are a recently married couple, who move into a fifth floor apartment in Greenwich Village (one of the ongoing jokes is the fact that everyone has to climb so many stairs to get to the apartment). Corie decorates the small, leaky apartment, turning it into a picturesque little home for the two. One of the many odd people living in the apartment building, the quirky Victor Velasco (Charles Boyer), befriends Corie, even flirting with her. He lives in the attic of the building, and climbs through the Bratters' apartment window to get to his. Victor helps Corie with the apartment, teaching her how to work the seemingly broken heating and plumbing.
Corie sets up a dinner date with Paul, Victor, and Corie's mother, Ethel Banks (Mildred Natwick) in a scheme to get Corie's mother to fall for Victor. Corie feels that her mother is lonely now that she lives alone and needs love. Victor takes them all to an Albanian restaurant on Staten Island where he knows the owner. There, the group drinks, and Corie and Victor dance with the belly dancer, while Paul and Ethel watch in embarrassment. Afterwards, Corie and Victor return to the apartment in high spirits as Paul and Ethel drag themselves along with fatigue. As Victor escorts Ethel outside, Corie and Paul begin an argument over their differences. Corie feels her adventurous spirit is impeded by Paul's cautious demeanor. One of the examples she gives is that he would not go barefoot in the park with her one evening. His excuse was that it was freezing. Corie says she will kick Paul out and get a big dog to protect her from him. Paul says maybe it will finally allow her to have someone who will go barefoot in the park with her. They eventually go to sleep, Corie in their tiny bedroom and Paul sleeping on the couch under a hole in the skylight on a snowy February night.
The next day, Paul comes home with a fever, but Corie still insists she wants a divorce. The two spend an awkward time together in their apartment before Corie kicks Paul out. She then gets a call from her aunt, saying that Ethel did not come home. Corie panics, and eventually finds out that her mother was at Victor's apartment. While Victor was escorting her to her home in New Jersey the previous night, Ethel slipped on icy stairs and fell. Victor and some neighbors took her back to Victor's apartment, where they spent the night. Strangely, Ethel was wearing nothing but her undergarments and Victor's Japanese kimono. It turned out that Victor had Ethel's dress drycleaned.
Meanwhile, a drunken Paul skips work and sits in Washington Square Park. Heeding her mother's advice, Corie goes out searching for Paul and finds him drunk and running shoeless and barefoot through the park. The once cautious Paul is now a fun loving drunk while Corie cautiously chases after him in order to get him to sober up. Eventually, Paul says it's his apartment too and he's going back home. Corie follows. Back at the apartment, Paul, still drunk, climbs onto the roof of the apartment. Scared he might fall, Corie begs him to come down while speaking to him through the hole in the glass ceiling. He says he will only come down if she repeats after him. He wants her to admit that her husband is a crazy drunk, when a few nights before she scolded him for being so cautious and practical even when he is drunk. Meanwhile, realizing where he is, Paul becomes scared, and almost falls off the building. Corie asks Paul to sing an Albanian folk song they had heard at the restaurant that Victor had taken them to calm himself down. While he sings, Corie climbs up to the roof to help him down. A crowd of onlookers starts to gather in the street, including Ethel and Victor. When Corie reaches Paul, they kiss and climb back down as the crowd cheers.
As of February 2020[update], Barefoot in the Park holds a rating of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 25 reviews, with the consensus: "Barefoot in the Park may strike some modern viewers as dated, but what it lacks in timeliness, it more than makes up with the effervescent chemistry between its stars."
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, "If it's romantic farce you delight in — old-fashioned romantic farce loaded with incongruities and snappy verbal gags — then you should find the movie version of 'Barefoot in the Park' to your taste ... But if you are in for a certain measure of intelligence and plausibility in what is presumed to be take-out of what might happen to reckless newlyweds today; if you expect a wisp of logic in the make-up of comic characters, which is, after all, what makes them funny, instead of sheer gagging it up, then beware." Arthur D. Murphy of Variety called the film "a thoroughly entertaining comedy delight about young marriage." Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times stated, "High-gloss, low-density comedy requires a special touch and Robert Redford and Jane Fonda handle themselves with a fine, deft charm ... As after a souffle, you may shortly be hungry for something more substantial but while it lasts it's very tasty." Brendan Gill of The New Yorker called the film "a funny adaptation by Neil Simon of his funny play." Leo Sullivan of The Washington Post wrote, "An excellent cast plays the light-as-air plot as coolly as possible. What's most important, it is as funny as ever it was and makes an ideal summer attraction."
- "Barefoot in the Park". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
- "Barefoot in the Park". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
- Crowther, Bosley (May 26, 1967). "The Screen: 'Barefoot in the Park'". The New York Times. 51.
- Murphy, Arthur D. (May 24, 1967). "Film Reviews: Barefoot in the Park". Variety. 6.
- Champlin, Charles (June 30, 1967). "'Barefoot in the Park' Moves to the Screen". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1, 9.
- Gill, Brendan (June 10, 1967). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 72.
- Sullivan, Leo (June 16, 1967). "Going 'Barefoot in the Park' Is Fun". The Washington Post. E5.