The oft-requested 1963 comedy Sunday in New York finally comes to DVD through the Warner Archive. The film had previously only been available on VHS. The movie is based on Norman Krasna's 1961 play which was a modest hit on Broadway starring young Robert Redford. Krasna also provides the screenplay for the film version, which was directed by Peter Tewksbury. The film was somewhat of an eyebrow-raiser at the time, with its relatively bold approach to modern sexuality among young people. The movie's major asset is its engaging cast of lead characters: Cliff Robertson, Jane Fonda, Rod Taylor and Robert Culp. Fonda plays a frustrated 22 year-old virgin who is made to feel guilty about her sexual urges. She is going out with millionaire society boy Culp but is frustrated by his lack of romantic aggressiveness.Fonda makes an unannounced visit to her brother, airline pilot Robertson, in order to seek advice out the wisdom of a girl keeping her virginity until marriage. Robertson piously counsels her that only 'good girls' get the best husbands, but secretly hides his own life as a playboy. His Manhattan bachelor pad needs a revolving door to handle his liaisons with tempting airline stewardesses.
While exploring the sights of New York City, Fonda meets cute with handsome writer and man of the world Rod Taylor. A clumsy near-seduction turns disastrous and sets up a convoluted set of comic circumstances in which misunderstandings and confusions of identity thrust the characters into emotional turmoil. The antics are quite dated today but provide a fascinating insight into how female sexuality was repressed during this era. It was permissible for men to lead Hefner-like lifestyles, but even the hint of an urge on the part of a young woman would leave her branded as a slut. Nevertheless, the four leads are in top form and provide plenty of genuine laughs, even if some of the comedic situations are as predictable as they are contrived. Fonda is perfect as the somewhat liberated woman who is fighting societies conventional attitudes. It's ironic that within a few short years, Sunday in New York would look as a dated as an Oscar Wilde comedy of manners and Fonda would be playing the intergalactic sex goddess Barbarella. Robertson and Taylor prove once again that they can not only credibly play men of action, but are also excellent performing light comedy. Culp, who would go on to stardom the following year in I Spy, should have emerged as a much bigger star on the silver screen.
Although much of the film is somewhat claustrophobic due to its origins as a play, Tewksbury opens up the action considerably by shooting in some of New York's most legendary locations. It's a joy to see the city during this era, from the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center to the famed rowboats in Central Park. There are also some nostalgic ads visible on buses including one that promotes nickel rides at New Jersey's legendary Palisades Amusement Park.There is an extended sequence in which jazz great Peter Nero performs in a nightclub, complete with a solo by Leslie Uggams. (Nero wrote the score for the film, including the title theme which is sung by another hipster, Mel Torme).
It's easy to dismiss Sunday in New York as a quaint look at sexuality, but it also affords the viewer the opportunity to spend time with the kind of leading actors that industry sorely lacks today.
The DVD contains the original trailer as a bonus extra.