This movie has a bad rep (see Leonard Maltin's guide), but if you liked Herb Gardner's "A Thousand Clowns," you will find similar pleasures here. Great writing from Gardner, with periodic laugh-out-loud lines. The cast works well, too, particularly Martin Balsam from "Clowns" (fascinating to see in a virtually opposite role 20 years later). Interesting also to see Gene Saks in a near-cameo, unrecognizable from his Chuckles character from "Clowns." Most intriguing to me is the setting; 95 percent of it takes place on the beach and boardwalk. In "Clowns," the play was "opened up" from the apartment with the addition of exhilarating (and mostly wordless) excursions around New York City. Conversely, "The Goodbye People" needs no such opening up, as the outdoor Coney Island setting has as its greatest asset the endless horizon. Accordingly, this film is about dreams and what you've got to do to make the most of life. Yes, it's talky, but so is "Clowns." In most movies, it's the writing that makes the difference, and Gardner doesn't disappoint. As a bonus, awesome evergreens make up the soundtrack. Don't hesitate to give this gem a try.
The Goodbye People (1984)
User ReviewsReview this title
22 January 2008
Not just pretty, wonderful. The movie, like Thousand Clowns, contains tons of gems in the writing, like you want to watch it again with a notepad. It is in the spirit of Thousand Clowns, in that it is based on a certain spirit in people, the non-conformist, the always wanted to do this but never did spirit, and Herb Gardner hits it right on the head. He evokes as much of that sentimental emotion in you as Thousand Clowns. Myself, I wait and shuffle through the library stacks looking for these kind of films. He did it again, and nobody would have ever known since it doesn't seem to have received an awards. The acting is very good. Lots of quick native New Yorker dialog. I thought in the beginning I was watching a recreation of Clowns and thought that there was no way anyone would be able to pull off the character like Jason Robards, but 5-10 minutes in you just accept the fact that yes, Gardner is dwelling in similar themes, but good. We need more of these movies. I thought it was great.