Barefoot in the Park
Fortunately, Barefoot in the Park turned out to be Redford's first commercially successful movie and the start of a great film career. Paul Bratten was actually not a favorite character of Redford's. Gene Saks, the first-time director of the film, later said that Redford hated wearing a suit and tie all day. He wanted people on the set to know that he wasn't really like Paul, and would wear a black western hat and cowboy boots off-camera. He did enjoy making the film, however, partly due to the rapport he developed with his leading lady.
Jane Fonda was chosen to play Corie in the film version of Barefoot in the Park (1967). At the time she was fighting a losing battle against being typecast: She was promoted as a sexpot in Europe in films like Roger Vadim's remake of La Ronde (1964), and as the girl next door in U.S. movies such as Any Wednesday (1966). Luckily, the role in this film would allow her to play off both screen images, with some comedy thrown into the mix. Noted by many was the great onscreen chemistry Fonda shared with Redford. The two leads became close friends during the filming, sharing a mutual interest in liberal politics. "Bob and I", Fonda later said, "We share the same causes."
The film focuses on conventionality versus unconventionality. Corie, the unconventional woman, is constantly trying to get Paul to loosen up a little, to go "barefoot in the park." Charles Boyer stars as Victor Velasco, the kooky neighbor of the Brattens who must go through their apartment in order to enter his own. Mildred Natwick, who appeared in the stage version with Redford, stars as Mrs. Banks, Corie's mother, who gets a second chance at romance, thanks to her daughter's matchmaking efforts. Natwick's delightful performance was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar®¨for her performance in this film. The film's popularity later inspired a TV series with an all-black cast.
Director: Gene Saks
Producer: Joseph H. Hazen
Screenplay: Neil Simon
Cinematographer: Joseph LaShelle
Editing: William A. Lyon
Music: Neal Hefti
Cast: Robert Redford (Paul Bratter), Jane Fonda (Corie Bratter), Charles Boyer (Victor Velasco), Mildred Natwick (Mrs. Banks), Herb Edelman (Harry Pepper).
by Sarah Heiman