It would appear that a film like Sunday in New York would never exist today. First, it’s obviously rooted in a stage play and it functions with the kind of moments you might expect out of some of Neil Simon’s works around New York though this particular story was crafted from a play by longtime screenwriter Norman Krasna who wrote many a screwball comedy back in the day.
But this is a film of the 1960s and it looks as such by today’s standards because it’s a chaste sex comedy that is charmingly madcap in its romance and numerous mishaps all while dodging around the social mores of the day. It’s never biting, always palatable, and fairly tame fun given its central themes.
New York becomes a lovely place for a pit stop over the weekend. Numerous people are headed there. First on the list is an airline pilot (Cliff Robertson) who is titillated by the prospect of a whole day alone with his best girl. Of course, being on active call near a busy terminal can be very aggravating for your love life and he and Mona constantly find themselves spending more time on the opposite ends of a telephone than actually together eating bagels and doing whatever else they normally do.
Then there’s Eileen (Jane Fonda), Adam’s little sister who is trying to get over a breakup with her beau. As a young, naive 22-year-old, she’s still trying to figure out the conventions of society and she goes to her big brother for advice on life’s most important questions. He’s someone she can trust about this particular issue.
The fact is she’s still a virgin (Gasp!). He does the brotherly thing and commends her as a respectable man will come along sometime for her. Meanwhile, he conveniently equivocates about what his romantic life looks like.
She does meet a man (Rod Taylor) and there is something between them rather odd at first and then strained by sexual tension and finally complicated by the fact that first her beau (Robert Culp) and then her brother Adam both come back and she must explain the presence of her guest. The film has plenty of comings and goings and while the plot is nothing new and noteworthy the cast makes it work rather well.
Jane Fonda gives a delightfully radiant performance opposite the always personable Rod Taylor with a meet-cute that’s so obviously absurd that it’s easy to laugh it off and simply enjoy it. They get thrown together on public transportation, aboard a bus, but the lady’s jacket gets caught on his coat and they must proceed to exit together. One of those awkward rom-com trifles. The film is full of these cute moments. Little do they know they will be spending a great deal more time with one another on a Sunday in New York.