Saturday, November 28, 2009

Barefoot in the Park

I must admit to a personal bias towards this piece. I have seen the film about a dozen times plus 3 times on stage. The writing, by famed playwright Neil Simon, is top-notch. Barefoot in the Park tells the tale of young love. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda are newlyweds moving into their first apartment together. Fonda plays Corrie, a wild and free young woman, who falls for stuffy lawyer Paul Bratter (Robert Redford). They quickly marry and honeymoon. Upon their return to New York she has rented them a fifth-floor walk-up apartment. Barefoot in the Park covers their tumultuous first week together.

Redford played the part on Broadway before coming to the silver screen. He does an excellent job. Great timing and delivery are evidence of his hundreds of performances. Fonda was cast to bring more "star and box-office appeal". She replaced Elizabeth Ashley who played Corrie on Broadway. The chemistry between Fonda and Redford works throughout the film. Mildred Natwick, reprising her role as Fonda's mother, steals the show. She gets, and deserves, all the attention while she is on screen. Natwick was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Charles Boyer, as the unique neighbor, is also a delight. Director Gene Saks does a wonderful job of allowing cast and script to carry the film. His light touch is most appreciated.

Neil Simon is one of America's great playwrights. From 'The Odd Couple' to 'Sunshine Boys' to 'Brighton Beach Memoirs' his scripts are excellent. He has delighted audiences from Broadway to Hollywood for over 30 years. I make it a personal mission to see everything he has written.

Sit back and allow the dialogue, characters and actors to fill you with joy and laughter. After viewing Barefoot in the Park see if you think, as I do, that tv's 'Dharma and Greg' is a total revisiting of the concept and characters.

Filmed in 1967, directed by Gene Saks, written by Neil Simon, starring Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Mildred Natwick and Charles Boyer.

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