Monday, December 21, 2009

To oomph or not to oomph

Or, Jane Fonda does comedy. One or both is the message of the movie Sunday in New York, airing at 4:00 PM ET this afternoon on TCM.

Fonda plays Eileen, a woman facing a bit of a moral quandary. She's engaged to be married, but her fiancé is pressuring her to have sex before marriage, which she's not so sure she should do. So, she goes down to New York City, to get some advice from her older brother. (Like that's a good idea.) Big brother Adam (Cliff Robertson) tells her she really doesn't have to have sex, and probably shouldn't. But that's a pretty big double standard. Adam, who is a pilot, has his one day off on this Sunday in New York, and he's determined to spend it bedding his girlfriend. And his little sister's visit has put a pretty big kink in his plans. He and his girlfriend go out to try to avoid getting the dreaded call that he has to sub for another pilot on a flight, and when that call comes, lil' sis goes looking for him, literally running into writer Mike (Rod Taylor) along the way. It's love at first sight....

Eventually, our heroine ends up back at the apartment with Mike, having taken him there to get him out of his wet clothes and into a bathrobe so that he can dry off before going back home. But before his clothes can dry, who should show up? Eileen's fiancé Russ (Robert Culp)! She can't tell him that she's got some strange man in just a bathrobe in the apartment, so Mike and Eileen go forward with the lie that Mike is actually Adam. This might just work, if only Adam doesn't suddenly show up (well, it is his apartment). Oh dear, what's a girl to do?

Sunday in New York is a movie that's a bit dated now; after the sexual revolution, almost nobody would be worried about the idea of having sex before getting married, and the ones who didn't want to would seek each other out to the point there wouldn't be any problem. Not only that, but the movie, while possibly seeming a bit racy compared to TV fare of the day like The Dick Van Dyke Show, is really quite tame by 2009 standards. And let's not ask how somebody living on a pilot's salary can live in such a posh Manhattan apartment. Instead, what Sunday in New York shows is that you've got quite a few actors who are better at comedy than one might normally think. Fonda did Cat Ballou and a few other light comedies in her younger days, but Robertson and Taylor didn't do so much. It's nice to see that they were able to carry it off fairly well. Sunday in New York is by no means the best movie ever made, and there's nothing groundbreaking about it, either. It's just one of those competent, enjoyable movies.

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