May 20, 2016
When I saw that Movies Silently was hosting a Classic Movie Ice Cream Social Blogathon, spotlighting movies with the "power to cheer you up when you’re feeling down," I knew I HAD to blog about Sunday in New York. It's a comedy from 1963 starring Jane Fonda, Rod Taylor, and Cliff Robertson, and it's been my favorite movie for about six or seven years.
I feel like we've been together forever though. I've seen other movies that I like better, or (obviously.. I mean, it's a 60's sex comedy, it's not Citizen Kane) movies that are just better movies. But something about Sunday in New York stuck with me; it is my filmic comfort blanket. It's like a cup of tea and a book during a thunderstorm, a shoulder to cry on on a bad day, a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer afternoon.
I've seen Sunday in New York countless times, so much in fact that sometimes I'll try to play the movie in my mind, running through each scene and seeing how much I can remember (The answer here is "all of it," something that's either very impressive or very embarrassing.) I had the immense pleasure of seeing this on the big screen at the 2014 TCM Film Festival, introduced by Robert Osborne in person. I cried happy tears afterwards, it was such a moving experience for me. And last year when I got a portable projector and movie screen for the backyard, deciding which movie to pick for the inaugural screening was a cinch.
So what is it about Sunday in New York that makes it so great? Why is this the movie that, above all else, cheers me up when I'm feeling down? I can give you a list of reasons (and I will, in a second) but, I think our relationships with movies are similar to relationships with people (stay with me) in that we each have our own chemistry with film. Sunday in New York appeals to me, it set off a spark in my brain that's impossible to quantify. I fell in love with it, and despite any attempts to make sense of my infatuation, I've come to accept that it just is. You can't help who/what movie you fall for, sometimes it's Alain Delon, sometimes it's a very silly slightly sexist 60's romantic comedy that's also kind of an ad for Peter Nero. If that sounds like it might be your cup of tea (or ice cream cone!) too, here are some reasons why I think Sunday in New York is awesome:
- If you have to escape for a few hours to a different reality, escaping into one that takes place in this apartment is a very good idea.
- It utilizes a lot of standard rom-com devices, but in a very fresh way. Jane Fonda and Rod Taylor have not one, but TWO very cute meet-cutes. And there is your standard confusion-arising-from-misunderstandings but it's hilarious, not eye-roll worthy. And while a few complications-to-move-the-story-forward happen, they don't last long. When you're watching a movie to cheer you up, you don't want to experience any of those frustrating movie moments that get you yelling at your screen.
- It talks about sex, double-standards, and the pressure of expectations on girls in a very frank way (albeit laced with some sexism that's to be expected from this type of movie from this particular era)
- There's a second storyline involving Cliff Robertson and Jo Morrow that's almost as funny and adorable as the Taylor and Fonda plot. (Sidenote: if anyone doubts Robertson's sex appeal, watch him answer Morrow's complaint that it's cold in Denver with the line "I guarantee that will not be your problem...." Yeesh!!)
- The cast members have an excellent rapport with each other. Jane Fonda and Rod Taylor make a fantastic pair and really should have been their generation's Doris Day and Rock Hudson (Taylor was actually paired with Day a couple times but I feel like he works so much better with Jane Fonda.)
- If you don't like Peter Nero, this isn't really a plus, but it's basically an ad for Peter Nero. Fonda brings Robertson's character one of his albums as a gift, Fonda and Taylor discuss the new Nero album on their date, he orchestrated the soundtrack for the movie, and when they go to a nightclub I'll give you one guess who's there performing live. Go on, guess! ;) I like it, though, I think it's kind of a throwback to the 30's and 40's when a lot of movies would feature a band leader like Ray Noble or one of the Dorsey brothers.
- It's a feel-good movie. If you know me, it might actually be a shock that I'd choose a feel-good movie to cheer me up, lol! My friends literally preface recommendations with "It's depressing, you'll love it!" But as much as I might like my films dark, morbid, and gloomy, when it comes to my "ice cream social" movie, I want something that leaves me grinning like an idiot when it's over. Sunday in New York is planted firmly in happy-ending, smiles for days territory, and I wouldn't have it any other way.