Barefoot in the Park
New York has appeared in so many movies, it could almost be considered a star in its own right. It's hard, for example, to imagine Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park being set anywhere else. A lighthearted comedy based on Simon's 1963 play of the same title, it stars a pre-aerobics Jane Fonda and a pre-Sundance Robert Redford as newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter, who move into a tiny fifth-floor walk-up apartment in a Greenwich Village brownstone.
It's that big city dilemma. You want to live in the heart of the city but you can't afford the rental prices. So you end up in a tiny closet of an apartment, up five flights of stairs. The heating doesn't work properly, there's a hole in the skylight that lets the snow in, and the neighbors are barking mad.
But you live with it because you're excited and in love. The movie is about the Bratters' battle with their new apartment – and getting used to married life. It starts with the idyllic scene of a horse-drawn carriage traveling through Central Park, then moves on to the gilded halls of the Plaza Hotel, where the couple spend six days of wedded bliss without leaving their room. (The exterior shot also boasts an impressive line-up of Mercedes convertibles at their finest.)
The Bratters spend much of the film in the new apartment (exteriors were shot at 111 Waverly Place, Greenwich Village), but additional scenes are filmed on the Staten Island ferry, on the local streets and under the famous arch of Washington Square Park.
It's this park that the film's title refers to. Free-spirited Corie accuses her husband of being too much of a 'stuffed shirt' so he proves he isn't by getting wildly drunk and dancing shoeless in the park. The best street scenes can be seen as Corie races through the city trying to find him.
When she does, they end up on the roof of their apartment building, offering a chance to see the Sixties skyline, no doubt on a blue screen – but still footage of the era.
The movie is certainly dated and feels more like a play than most Hollywood comedies of today, but it's still fun. It's also amusing to see veteran actors in relatively early roles.
And if you're watching this movie to see New York in the Sixties, you'll certainly feel like you've been there. – Roshan McArthur