Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sunday in New York + 4 more Jane Fonda flicks

A feast of Fonda, lately - Jane that is. I just got SUNDAY IN NEW YORK, and my pal Jerry passed 4 of hers onto me recently.   Then, KLUTE was on again over the weekend, so we had another look at that too - its a key '70s movie for me, as per my other reports on it here - Fonda label.

I saw SUNDAY IN NEW YORK at the time, on its general release here in the UK in 1964, when I was 18, and more or less forgot it. But seeing it again now, 50 years later, its a bright, shiny artifact of the early 60s and is one of the better comedies revolving around sex of that time - COME SEPTEMBER, SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL and of course the Rock and Doris comedies. It has extensive New York shooting, and an engaging quartet of players, plus An Apartment To Die For - one of those Apartments We Love, which I will have to return to soon.

Its a sparkling comedy from a Norman Krasna stage play (cue lots of doors opening and people arriving unexpectedly) and its amusing to see what was considered daring on screen 50 years ago. Peter Teskesbury keeps it moving nicely and New York circa 1963 looks great in Metrocolor, yup its another great New York movie, like BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S  — we get to see the city just before the decline that caused filmmakers of the late 1960s and 1970s (cue KLUTE!) to use the city as a symbol of urban crime rather than a terrific place for falling in love. There is also a nice jazz score by Peter Nero (who also makes a cameo appearance in a nightclub scene). 
Jane is the 23 year old virgin who refuses to put out for her fiance, and is visiting her airline pilot brother (Cliff Robertson) who swears to her that he does not sleep with girls and respects them, while a running joke has he and girlfriend Jo Morrow (super here) being continually frustrated while trying to get together. Enter amiable nice guy Rod Taylor whom Jane gets attached to - literally - on a bus. Further complications follow when they are both undressed back at Cliff's place when her fiance Robert Culp walks in and thinks Rod is her brother - then her real brother arrives!  Needless to say it is nicely worked out, and we just love that bachelor apartment with its brick walls, sunken kitchen, and the spiral stairs up to the bedroom area, which can be shuttered off at night. Urban bliss indeed.  Mel Torme sings the engaging theme tune and its classy work all round, capturing that early '60s Manhattan single lifestyle - almost an update on Rock and Doris in PILLOW TALK!  Its the perfect Valentine Day treat. 

Rod was fresh from THE BIRDS and THE VIPs, Jane had done THE CHAPMAN REPORT and WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, those two Trash Classics we love from 1962 and would go on to do more films of Broadway plays like BAREFOOT IN THE PARK and ANY WEDNESDAY, as well as her French films LES FELINS and the Vadim's like LA RONDE, and as well as the heavy stuff like THE CHASE and HURRY SUNDOWN, before her hits BARBARELLA, THEY SHOOT HORSE DONT THEY? and back to KLUTE and JULIA. We never really liked much of her work after that and she has of course re-invented herself several times since and is now a very glamorous late Seventies ...

Now, back to her first film: TALL STORY in 1960, where she is directed by father Henry's pal Joshua Logan, and co-starred with Tony Perkins - very tall and gangly here as the ace basketball player and Jane as the girl who is determined to bag him. Its a so-so comedy, rather boring in parts, with too much of the older professors. 
The most amusing scene has Jane following Tony into the mens' changing room and seeeing naked Van Williams emerging from the shower... It also features young Gary Lockwood and maybe Robert Redford in one shot.

I did not like PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT that much either, Tennessee Williams' first comedy from 1962, which makes for a raucous comedy as we follow newly-weds Fonda and Jim Hutton en route to their honeymoon, as they visit another couple Tony Franciosa and Lois Nettleton  who are having problems of their own.  It all gets very tiresome before too long, or maybe I was just not in the mood for it. 

Ditto with Godard's TOUT VA BIEN, a 1972 political tract which sees Fonda (just after KLUTE) and Yves Montand as a couple in Paris, journalists dealing with a factory strike and the capitalist society we live in. It highlighted everything I dislike about Godard films and I just found what I saw of it unbearably tedious. I do want to re-visit Godard's CONTEMPT though, with Bardot in 1963 - which if I remember right is a fascinating treatise on making movies. 

Nice though to finally see THE GAME IS OVER (LA CUREE) again, after all this time. This Roger Vadim piece of exotic erotica dates from 1966 and is a delicious Trash Classic as Jane enbarks on a doomed love affair with her stepson, Peter McEnery. Husband is mercurial Michel Piccoli, and Jane suffers but wears marvellous costumes for each scene, particularly for her mad scene at the climax!. We like McEnery (the first HAMLET I saw on stage, in 1967). It it all delirious nonsense played out in opulent sets which are a scream. 

After all those Janes, we now want to go back to some more Romy Schneider and Catherine Deneuve ... 

1 comment:

  1. I recently caught up with Sunday in New York again just a day or two after Rod Taylor's passing and it is a cute, if naive, comedy with both Rod and Jane gorgeous almost beyond belief. Love Jane in most everything but I have some favs, her spunky strumpet Kitty Twist in Walk on the Wild Side, Cat Ballou and Barefoot in the Park are early favorites that I can watch often. As much as I admire They Shoot Horses, Don't They? and think it might be her best work ever it doesn't lend itself to frequent viewing with it's nihilistic world view. I enjoy many of her films from during her major star period, Klute, 9 to 5, China Syndrome etc. and I'm happy she's decided to return to films. I wish a director out there would find her a project worthy of her abilities which hasn't happened so far in this section of her career.

    Period of Adjustment is a bit of a mess though she looks cute with her bubble hairdo but I hated Tout Va Bien. It didn't help that her co-star was Yves Montand, one of my all time least favorite actors. Aside for Wages of Fear and Z I've hated him in everything I've ever seen him do.