Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Barefoot in Park" Remains Sure-Footed Comedy Winner

Cleveland Press August 25, 1967

Playwright Neil Simon has adapted his own highly successful stage comedy, "Barefoot in the Park," for the screen and, except for a padded opening and closing, has remained faithful to his own script

Which is a pretty good idea, since "Barefoot" is one of the most successful comedies of the modern stage -- and why tamper with success?

THIS IS the comedy about the newlyweds in their new, impossibly tiny apartment, the one that is five flights up (not counting the stoop), the one with the hole in the skylight and the Bohemian neighbor in the attic who uses their bedroom for a shortcut.

All of this has been filmed in New York -- in Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park -- and this authentic locale, plus first-rate performances, make this film a winner in the lightweight class

Charles Boyer is a delightful surprise in a wonderfully comic character role, that of the eccentric neighbor who is a gourmet and tippler without peer

MILDRED Natwick repeats her Broadway portrayal of the bride's mother, a pilltaking, conservative widow who skates on the thin ice of hysteria once thrown into the company of the unpredictable Boyer

Also from the original production is Robert Redford, a solid leading man and capable actor who is perfect as the slightly conservative husband.

Jane Fonda -- who has been very, very bad in some recent movies -- is very, very good in this one. At moments she seems to be poking fun at some of the sexy roles she has played in other films.

THE RUNNING gag in the play was the arrival of exhausted people in the walkup apartment. The movie has given in to lingering over this, allowing the camera to follow characters all the way up. It's a little much.

Also added is a prolog showing the couple disappearing into the Plaza Hotel for their honeymoon.

Almost intact, however, and the best part of the movie, is Simon's funny and sometimes human comedy about people adjusting to each other.