Barefoot in the Park (1967)

Fifty-three years ago today, the film Barefoot in the Park premiered. Simon. Redford. Fonda. It’s a winning combination. That late 60s style also just makes it by far one of the most enjoyable films to watch. Obviously, if you get a chance to see a live theatre performance, it shouldn’t be missed.

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Title: Barefoot in the Park
Directed by: Gene Saks
Produced by: Hal B. Wallis
Written by: Neil Simon
Based on: Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon
Starring: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Charles Boyer, Mildred Natwick
Music by: Neal Hefti
Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle
Edited by: William A. Lyon
Production companies: Hal Wallis Productions, Nancy Enterprises Inc.
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release date: May 25, 1967 (United States)
Running time: 106 minutes
Budget: $2 million
Box office: $28 million

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.

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