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   SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963) 

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CAST
Cliff Robertson
Jane Fonda
Rod Taylor
Robert Culp
Jo Morrow
Jim Backus

DIRECTED BY
Peter Tewksbury

PURCHASE


About Fonda




Time: 105 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Comedy/Romance


SYNOPSIS: In an attempt to overcome a recent breakup, 22-year-old Eileen escapes to New York to visit her older brother. He tries to console her by claiming that being a "good girl" will pay off in the end, while he's secretly trying to score on his one day off with one of his girfriends Mona. When she discovers his duplicity she attempts to shed her virginity with Mike, a man she had a brief flirtation with that she just met on a bus. When her ex-fiancé shows up to make amends, she has to decide whether to play it safe or take a chance on newfound love.

BOTTOM LINE: In one of her first major leading roles, Fonda shows just how funny "good girls" can be and what a big star she's about to become. She brings class, intelligence and quite a bit of passion to her role as a frustrated virgin who wants to explore her sexuality without losing her marriagibility status. While this may seem ridiculous and antiquated by today's standards, this film was made before the advent of free love and it discusses one of the main reasons everyone probably got married so young. Perhaps to the wrong person, which is what the film eventually shows. While she wants the right to sleep with whomever she chooses, if she was really sexually attracted to her fiancé – who seems to be perfect for her on paper – she would have gone for it regardless of the consequences. She's torn between wanting to be treated like a lady and still allowed to explore being a woman. I found her belief in her brother's celebacy more than a bit hard to swallow – he's an airline pilot living in Manhattan for God's sake – but if she doesn't believe him much of the film's comedy is lost.

Her brother Adam's attempt to have an afternoon of fun with Mona are thwarted at every turn and I suppose the plot's way of punishing him for lying to his little sister. They use his occupation to keep them separated – she ends up flying around the country without him – and while some of the bits are amusing, they're mainly just filler. We know he's a player and clearly not getting laid today. It's when Eileen literally bumps into Mike (Taylor) that the film comes alive. There's an instant spark between them and obvious chemistry, even though they don't always see the world eye to eye. Though much of the film takes place indoors on obvious sets, it does take a few moments to show-off New York, albeit in a very romantic light, which helps the production feel less stagebound. I can't imagine taking a man I just met, even one I had a pleasant time with in Central Park, up to my apartment after a mere two hours – even if there was a sudden tornado – but this is Hollywood after all and that's exactly where the meat of the picture plays out.




It's here that Fonda and Taylor really shine in a quasi-mating dance that is at times sexy, silly and downright awkward. Revenge sex only works if you've actually had sex before, so Fonda's attempts to be sophisticated and seductive are painfully funny. Taylor's horror at discovering her virgin status is equally amusing. Here he thought it was his lucky day, and instead he has his hands full with a frustrated girl who was just using him to make a point. His ego is hurt because he thought she liked him for his winning personality. Now he feels trapped and responsible. It's an odd take on the double standard that comes off better than one would expect. It's an intense, honest and sweet sequence that really gets to the heart of the matter. There's no doubt, even with the reappearance of Mr. Right (played with unrelenting bravado by Culp), that they have connected in a very real way. The final act, which revolves around mistaken identity, is played to the comic hilt and works quite well, though it's clear from the moment Culp appears, he won't be staying around long. His response, when she tells him the truth about her afternoon, won't surprise a single woman watching and only goes to prove, yet again, what total asses men can be. While this film doesn't find an answer for the age-old double standard regarding sex before marriage, it does make the exploration of the question quite a bit of fun. Not exactly a comedy classic, but a great movie for a rainy day.



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