Winter of 1967

Day 2 of #blogjune

Our friend Diane had a “Winter of Barbra” last year where she and some friends watched every Barbra Streisand movie they could lay their hands on. I think it may have even stretched into Spring, there are a lot of Barbra movies.

Anyway, Wayne and I were talking about how the late 60s and very early 70s is a bit of a lost period for movies so we decided we would have a Saturday night “Winter of 1967” (or thereabouts).

barefootUnfortunately we didn’t get off to the greatest of beginnings with our first choice last night, Barefoot in the park starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford.

Based on Neil Simon’s Broadway play, this was his screenwriting debut and maybe he hadn’t quite hit his stride yet, but the lame script isn’t at all helped by the equally lame performance of the lead actors.

Robert Redford also starred in the Broadway play as buttoned down, stuffed-shirt lawyer Paul Bratter and the movie might have turned out better had Natalie Wood accepted the role of Paul’s free spirited bride Corie. Sadly, Wood turned it down and the role went instead to Jane Fonda and she just comes across as needy and unlikeable. There is zero chemistry between the leads and you have to wonder why they’re together at all.

Redford and Fonda play newly-weds who, after a wild honeymoon at New York’s Plaza Hotel, move into a 5th floor Greenwich Village apartment with no heating, no elevator, but an assortment of kooky neighbours, thank goodness, otherwise we’d be stuck with just Redford and Fonda. It’s even a relief in the scenes where the telephone repair man turns up for a bit of light comedy.

The second string players are really the only ones worth watching. Mildred Natwick as Corie’s conservative mother Ethel really steals the movie and lights up the screen as soon as she appears, as does Charles Boyer as eccentric upstairs neighbour Victor who Corie sets up as her mother’s blind date. I wish we could have tagged along with Ethel and Victor on their date rather than staying with Paul and Corie, it would have been a lot more fun.

So here’s what happens next… Paul and Corie have a fight, Corie gets angry and wants a divorce, Paul gets angry and starts drinking, and after a bit more fighting Corie kicks him out. Ethel somehow loses all her clothes on her date with Victor and appears in Corie’s apartment the next morning wearing nothing but one of Victor’s kimonos. Corie is aghast at her mother’s behaviour so maybe Corie isn’t so free spirited after all and maybe Ethel isn’t so conservative. Corie decides to go looking for Paul because now she loves him again, although I’m not really sure what happened to change her mind.

Eventually Corie finds Paul wandering around barefoot, happy and drunk in Washington Square Park. I think everyone is supposed to have swapped roles and learned something about themselves and each other, but it’s all very confused and, really, who cares if Paul and Corie live happily ever after? Ethel and Victor seem pretty happy though.

The scenes in New York in 1967 are wonderful and it’s even better seeing places you’ve been to! I like to think we might have sat on the park bench in Washington Square Park that Robert Redford falls over.

Recommended? Not really, although it’s worth fast forwarding through and watching the scenes with Mildred Natwick. Here’s the trailer…

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6 responses to “Winter of 1967

  1. Ooh — 1967 films. I happened to grab this book off my library’s shelves a few years back and enjoyed it.

    Pictures at a Revolution: five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

    The best picture nominees for the Oscars that year were a motley yet interesting bunch! Haven’t seen Barefoot in the Park, but now I kind of want to — I think I’ll probably agree with y’all’s analysis.

    • Oh, I didn’t know someone had written a book about 1967 movies! Will have to look that one up. Let me know what you think of Barefoot in the park if you do watch it, it’s probably worth it just to see Mildred Natwick.

  2. I like thematic film nights- I am hoping to do a John Hughes weekend soon :).

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