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Friday Film Review: Sunday in New York

Sunday in New York (1963)
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Grade: B

Hello early 1960s morality. It’s ‘Sex and the Single Girl’ as it hasn’t been for a long time. Eileen (Jane Fonda) arrives in New York City on a Sunday morning having been recently dumped by her almost fiancé Russ (Robert Culp) in Albany because she won’t (gasp) go to bed with him. Her older brother, airline pilot Adam (Cliff Robertson), lectures her on how she should behave then lies to her about his own amorous activities as he heads out to try and find an empty friend’s apartment (since Eileen is in his own) where he can shack up with his girlfriend Mona.

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But Adam is on flight call for the weekend and when his boss Drysdale (Jim Backus) calls looking for him, Eileen heads out to try and find her brother in an age before cell phones. Along the way, she meets up with Mike Mitchell (Rod Taylor) and winds up spending the afternoon with him before they get drenched in a downpour. After heading back to Adam’s apartment to dry off, Eileen decides to go for it and ditch her virginity by seducing Mike who will have none of it as he doesn’t want to be responsible. More lectures to Eileen on morality and waiting for the right man are delivered.

Now the movie takes a shift to screwball as Russ and then Adam arrive at Adam’s apartment, identies are deliberately confused and Eileen has to decide whom she truly loves.

Susanna Kearsley recommended this one to me and I can see she’s learning my movie tastes well. Here’s a 1960s sex comedy that holds up fairly well for its age unlike some others I’ve recently revisted (Jack Lemmon’s “Under the Yum Yum Tree” for one). In “Sunday in New York” we’re still in a time when women wore heels and pearls, smoking was cool and swinging bachelor pads included “modern” lighting, jazz LP records and only had one lock on the door. Idlewild Airport also had a sexy, breathy overhead announcer you could actually understand and flying was still glamorous.

A very young Jane Fonda looks marvelous in her 1963 fashions and shows that she already knew how to act even if she’s asked to be a touch ditzy for the plot. Rod Taylor is charming and handsome as are Cliff Robertson and Robert Culp. A comment at IMDB struck me in that the movie does appear to only be populated with good looking, white, middle class people except for the employees at the Japanese restaurant – which must have been almost the height of exoticness for most movie goers of that time.

The film handles its adult theme of premarital sex in a family friendly fashion without lowering itself to leers, winks and nudges. And oh, the irony of the scene we drop in on after Mike has learned what Eileen wants and is outraged, outraged I tell you!, that such a nice girl would be willing to ask him, almost a total stranger, to do such a thing. My how times have changed. But as seen our recent post on romance and morality, have the expectations that a woman will keep herself pure for marriage, or at the very least (I’ll concede) just a few very committed relationships, really changed? It seems like the status quo all the men in this film argue for is still with us to some extent. Nice girls better not be seen to sleep around too much. Even Adam, who’s spent almost the entire film trying to arrange a tryst with his hottie, ends up proposing marriage at the end with a future of settling into staid domesticity apparently before him.

This one must have seemed a bit daring and risque for the time though still firmly controlled by the Hays Code (note the Playboy magazine being thumbed through by Eileen has no picture on the cover). But without any nudity or resorting to the characters falling into caricatures or descending into silliness, it manages to convey exactly what it’s truly talking about in a light and breezy manner that provides 104 minutes of entertainment. It’s dated, yes, but check it out for a trip back to just before ‘free love’ began to shake things up.

~Jayne

Note: this is another movie not currently out in DVD format. It’s due to be shown on TCM this coming Monday, December 21st.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

15 Comments

  1. Jill
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 05:22:56

    Jayne, Have you ever seen “Walk, Don’t Run”? It’s pretty silly, but it is a mid-sixties comedy with Cary Grant as the older matchmaker figure. Jim Hutton and Samantha Eggar play the young couple he is trying to get together and they are all living in the same tiny apartment b/c of the Tokyo Olympics, which causes a lot of raised eyebrows of course.
    Like I said, pretty silly by today’s standards, but it is one of my favorite, “cheer myself up on a bad day” movies. And it’s on DVD!

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  2. Tee
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 07:25:42

    I absolutely loved Sunday in New York. I have watched it over the years occasionally on TV and enjoyed it each and every time. Is it dated? Of course; it was issued in the ’60s. But what a fun movie. Another good ’60′s movie is with Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen–Love with the Proper Stranger. It was fantastic then and is still now and has totally dated issues. But it was done in a fun way, trying to handle a couple of serious challenges.

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  3. joanne
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 07:57:51

    I remember seeing this and liking it very much but then Jane Fonda became Jane Fonda and I could never watch it again. A generation gap thing, for sure.

    Later in the 60s Rod Taylor made HOTEL which is a favorite older movie.

    The heroine is already someone else’s mistress (real mistress) and she and Taylor fall for each other and have a mid-day tryst. Very romantic and the scenery in old New Orleans is gorgeous. The story is from the book by Arthur Hailey (spelling?) with his wonderful side plots of murder, mystery and segregation.

    The final scene in the bar at the end of that movie still makes me smile.

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  4. Jayne
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 08:06:35

    @Jill: I’ve never seen “Walk, Don’t Run” but I love – and plan to do a review on – the movie on which it’s based, “The More the Merrier” with Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn. It’s set during crowded wartime Washington. I know I’ve seen “Walk” listed on TCM so I’ll be watching for the next time it’s shown.

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  5. Jayne
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 08:13:54

    @joanne: I have a friend who has the same issues with Fonda. I can almost literally watch the steam come out of her ears when Fonda is mentioned – so I don’t. ;)

    I had heard about “Hotel” but when I saw it was based on a book by Hailey, I wondered if it would turn out like “Airport.” You know, ubermelodrama filled with tons of stars which doesn’t truly meld into a good film. But look! Merle Oberon is in it. Is it out on DVD?

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  6. joanne
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 08:29:34

    @Jayne:

    Is it out on DVD?

    I think I saw it at Netflix but it’s been a while since I looked there for anything. I last saw it on an old movie channel.

    For all the subject matter is on the heavy side I would definately put this movie in the ‘light’ category. I loved the ‘real mistress’ side of it, even then, lol!

    Oh. And Oberon is ‘older’ and absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

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  7. Jill
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 08:33:11

    @Jayne: I love “The More the Merrier” too! It’s probably more “classic”, but there’s something about Cary Grant that gets me every time.

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  8. Jayne
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 08:35:39

    @joanne: It’s listed as “Save” at Netflix – along with “Love with a Proper Stranger.” Bummer. I’ll keep watching for them both on TV.

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  9. Jayne
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 08:36:51

    @Jill:

    but there's something about Cary Grant that gets me every time.

    I love him in comedies and am glad he did so many of them.

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  10. wendy
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 14:28:49

    @Jayne:
    Love “The More The Merrier”. When I think of Joel McCrea I usually picture him singing at Janette McDonald, but he was great in TMTM. Charles Coburn, with his bulldog looks and cigar poking out of his mouth was the embodiment of the character actor, and Jean Arthur has always been a favourite actor of mine.

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  11. Cristiane
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 18:41:04

    Joel McCrea? Singing at Jeannette MacDonald? No, no, no. Possibly you mean Nelson Eddy? Or even (less likely) Maurice Chevalier?

    Walk Don’t Run is cute, but it isn’t even half as good as The More the Merrier – the scene on the stoop is unbelievably sexy for a mid-40s movie. And Charles Coburn won a (much deserved) Supporting Actor Oscar. One of my all-time favorites.

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  12. Cheryl S
    Dec 19, 2009 @ 05:54:37

    Or Wendy you might be thinking of Gordon McRae, who would have been singing with Doris Day or Kathryn Grayson, but in the 50s. He had a magnificent baritone voice.

    I loved Walk Don’t Run. Cary Grant was terrific in it, but I had a real soft spot for Jim Hutton.

    I’ve never come across ‘Sunday in New York’ before. I must keep an eye open for it on TCM. I’m with the other reviewers who can’t quite see Jane Fonda in light roles. The only exception is ‘Barefoot in the Park’ with Robert Redford – and she was very good in that.

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  13. Jayne
    Dec 19, 2009 @ 10:38:36

    Cheryl, TCM is showing it again on Monday, December 21st.

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  14. Suzanne
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 08:16:23

    I love this movie. Outdated by today’s standards? Of course, but just watching Jane Fonda and Cliff Robertson makes me smile. I also loved Jo Morrow’s Mona character–outraged and ready to kill Adam until he proposes on the phone! I always watch this movie is not for the silly plot, but for Rod Taylor. Not only handsome, he also brought a certain panache to the role of Mike, and in 1963 he represented the kind of man all young women wished would pop into their lives.

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  15. Jayne
    Dec 24, 2009 @ 08:30:45

    Poor Mona – first she gets flown to Pittsburg then endures the Trip From Hell getting back to NYC followed by an even longer flight to Denver. I do love Rod Taylor too. Handsome in a nice, “boy next door” fashion with such a nice smile.

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