The Goodbye Girl (1977)
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It stars Richard Dreyfuss at his best, and Marsha Mason and the "kid" are excellent too. Perhaps it is one of the best of films because it is able to make you laugh and cry, and sometimes at the same time. Neil Simon's writing is so comic and never allows the pathos to drown you. I believe it won a number of Oscars when first released yet almost no one I rave to about it has ever heard of it. Strange!
This film is very much under-appreciated. It is a wonderful tale of of family, of career, of relationships and of love. The rooftop scene is just fantastic and leaves a knot in my stomach every time I see it. A warm glow and a feeling of "this is how life should turn out". Great movie, great script. Fantastic.
The play that Dreyfus is appearing in the lead role in is Shakespeare's RICHARD III. It is being produced by Paul Benedict (a rare big part for that good comic actor), but his ideas about the production are upsetting Dreyfus. Dreyfus is approaching the role in the classical, "Olivier" form - the master, evil Machiavellian monarch. Machiavellian to be sure in Benedict's version, but also gay. As Benedict pushes it, it is the story of "the Queen who would be King". Dreyfus's performance of the play within the film, following Benedict's direction, is an everlasting comic joy.
The highs and lows of the two warring suite mates follows a romantic course, as they gradually fall in love with each other. Will this actor prove to be another one of those typically selfish actors that Mason resents, or will he prove to be different to her and Cummings - will he be the real love of her life?
A first rate comedy, and Dreyfus' Oscar - a well earned one.
Totally predictable but I really enjoyed it! I loved in back in 1977 and I still love it now! Neil Simon's script is basically just a series of one liners--but they ARE funny and Dreyfuss, Mason and Cummings deliver them perfectly. They come fast and furious and the movie moves very quickly--it doesn't seem like it's 110 minutes long. Dreyfuss deservedly won the Best Actor Award for this film--he's 'on' non-stop and is full of energy and fun.
Mason was nominated for Best Actress and she's almost as good as Dreyfuss (she was a little too whiny for me). Cummings isn't that good--but she WAS only 10 when she did this. It's just that her character is one of those screen kids that talks and acts like an adult--I didn't think having her swear occasionally was cute or funny. Nonetheless she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The movie was also up for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. Also there's a GREAT title song written and performed by David Gates over the closing credits (it was also a big hit song back in '77). Also Nicol Williamson pops up (unbilled) in a short but VERY funny cameo.
The only debit--the romance scenes were corny (but they do work) and some of the dramatic scenes were TERRIBLY written (Simon was always better at doing comedy). And he has two thunderstorms pop up out of NOWHERE in this movie during a big romantic and dramatic scene. That was pushing it a little too much! Still the acting carries those scenes through and it's a minor complaint.
A sweet, very funny, enjoyable film. Just don't think about it TOO much. I give it a 9.
Forced to share an apartment with a stranger, Mason may finally be on the right track. Richard Dreyfuss is that man and in a surprise Oscar winning performance (Richard Burton was also up for Equus that year), he is perfect in the role as the charmer.
By movie's end Dreyfuss has to go off to somewhere but unlike the other men in her life, will return. How do we know he is coming back? Just see this delightful film and find out.
Simon's script melts with humor and heart from start to finish. It's one that gets better with every viewing.
The repartee between Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss sparkles as the two people who are forced to accept each other as roommates, only because of economic necessity. One is a granola-eating guy from Chicago who meditates and exercises as he tries to make it in the New York theatre scene. The young woman is a single mother who has been abandoned by her common-law husband and tries to return to dancing. The music of Bread evokes the soft rock of the decade. We see Marsha Mason working as a sales girl for a Japanese car company in an era before Japanese cars were commonplace. Before gay rights became part of the social agenda, Richard Dreyfuss takes on the role of Richard II in a way that a 1970's audience felt was more like their home decorator or hairdresser. It all seems a bit dated and predictable; however, with the acting of Mason and Dreyfus and the brilliant script from Neil Simon, it still entertains and resonates with audiences.
This is Richard Dreyfuss at perhaps his most offbeat. Sure, Marsha Mason plays the lead and the film is called "the goodbye girl", but I think the movie passes or fails with Dreyfuss. For me, it passes, as he is strangely interesting and fun to watch.
The film as a whole is not that amazing. It seems to have secured a few Oscar nominations but few wins. Today (2016), it is not one that most people have heard of. Heck, even Mason is not a household name. Worth a look, but not essential.
Paula McFadden (Marsha Mason) is an over the hill dancer sharing an apartment with her daughter, Lucy (Quinn Cummings), and her boyfriend, a married director. She and Lucy are all set to follow her boyfriend to the set of his next movie when they come home one afternoon to find that he is gone, and the only thing he has left is a good-bye note. As unpleasant a surprise as this is, it's not the first time it's happened to Paula. So now she has to find a job to support herself and her daughter. Just when it looks like things couldn't get worse, Elliott Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss) arrives, claiming that he is supposed to sublet the apartment while in town to do Richard III. This is not what Paula wants to hear, and the two of them get off on the wrong foot, but as Elliott has no other place to go, Paula agrees to let him stay in the apartment. As time goes by, Paula's troubles finding work continue, and Elliott discovers that his director wishes to portray Richard as "the queen who would be king." Mutual sympathy and respect develop, which eventually turns to love. Will they find happiness together, or will a film opportunity for Elliot cause a repeat of the pattern that Paula knows all too well?
The script is absolutely charming, as is typical of Neil Simon. The original battles between Paula and Elliott sparkle with wit, and their love scenes brim with tenderness brought on by their hard won affection for each other. Paula's growth is so subtly depicted that you don't realize it until she points it out. Elliott's reliability is built solidly throughout the picture. Their ultimate devotion to each other is immensely satisfying.
The acting is also first rate. Mason delivers her usual stunning performance, going from hurt paranoia to believing love in a lovely arc. Dreyfuss is equally good in revealing that under the bravado lies a basically good man who only wants to do the right thing for his woman. Quinn Cummings offers a scene stealing performance as a child wise beyond her years, who nevertheless has a child's vulnerability.
One of the ultimate feel good movies, it will have you cheering for love at the end.
Such annoying characters. Marsha Mason's single mom is so unpleasant and unstable that it's hard to imagine any man wanting to have a romantic relationship with her. Dreyfuss's character is written to make him a real weirdo, though as the movie progresses all the weird character traits disappear. (For example, he's portrayed early on as a health freak and very particular about what he eats; later, he's eating spaghetti and drinking cheap wine, and I think pizza appears in a later scene.) The 10 year old daughter/adult spouting Neil Simon one-liners is painful.
Only saving grace -- the "B" plot with an unwilling Dreyfuss forced to play Richard III as a flaming gay at the direction of crazed director Paul Benedict. Watching Dreyfuss mince and lisp his way through some of the great scenes in Richard III is enough to give this dreadful movie a 3.
Probably the most notable role that year was John Travolta's turn as a working-class youth who dances to disco music in "Saturday Night Fever", one of the most iconic movies of the decade. By contrast, barely anyone remembers "The Goodbye Girl". On the other hand, Richard Dreyfuss is the better actor (more importantly, he frequently addresses political issues, while John Travolta is now more known for Scientology than for his movie roles). Are Academy Award nominations meant to address roles or individuals?
Whatever the case, this movie - the first that Neil Simon wrote directly for the screen - is worth seeing. I actually liked Marsha Mason's role more than Richard Dreyfuss's. I'd call her one of the most underrated actresses. Overall, it's an OK movie, not a masterpiece.
Their daughter who was a newcomer in this movie is 40 years old this year.
Dreyfuss won an Oscar for this one and deservedly so. His character is extremely energetic and in a time before it is fashionable has to play a gay King Richard.
As for Mason, she is delicious and bitchy all in moments.
Neil Simon is 85 this year and his last writing credit was in 2007. In the 1970's Simon was doing scripts like this, The Odd Couple and The Sun Shine Boys.
While the Goodbye Girl is not quite as well done as the others, this is still a pretty solid script for it's era. What seems strange is that this one just was shown on The Essentials on TCM. I am not used to having a movie that came out when I grew up being honored in that Saturday night slot. Still, it deserved the recognition.
We need films like this one to remind us people and movies are not perfect.
Although it takes a long while before they eventually fall in love, the path the movie takes is enough to keep you smiling.
RENT THIS ONE!! Do not wait. This is a film I highly recommend.