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THE GOODBYE GIRL (1977)

When a divorced woman and her daughter arrive home at their apartment to find it vacated by her boyfriend, who is allegedly on an out-of-town job, albeit without a warning, they find, in his stead, an actor subletting the apartment for the missing boyfriend. Though the mother is hesitant at first, after some consideration, she decides to share the apartment with him, which of course, leads to some interesting twists and turns in her personal life unforeseen even by her insistent will to stay away from actors altogether.

The top notch cast includes: Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, Quinn Cummings, Paul Benedict, and Barbara Rhoades.

The screenplay was written by playright Neil Simon.

THE GOODBYE GIRL was nominated for the Best Picture award.

With "The Goodbye Girl" director Herbert Ross served up a nearly perfect, feel good, romantic comedy.

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"Thank you Neil Simon for making us laugh at falling in love... again."

 

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The basic story involves a starving, young actor, sharing a New York apartment with a single, divorced mother and her 10 year old daughter. In spite of themselves, they gradually fall in love.

The opening of the story begins by showing the audience a retired dancer, Paula McFadden (Marsha Mason), and her young daughter, Lucy (Quinn Cummings), coming home from a successful shopping trip, planning to go to California with Paula's live-in actor boyfriend, Tony. Much to their hurt and disappointment, they find a "Dear John" letter waiting for them, explaining Tony's new plan to go to Italy on a film shoot instead of the California gig, and a cold brush off, as if their 2 years together was just a convenience. To add insult to personal hurt, she finds out later from the apt. landlady that the bum has sublet the apartment. Late that night, Paula comes face to face with a dripping wet aspiring actor, Elliott Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss), as he knocks on her door, looking for his sublet apartment. Elliott is surprised to find someone still in it. He had come to New York for an off-Broadway play, "Richard, The Third." After some wrangling, they agree to share rent on the apartment, despite Paula's feelings about the general character of actors, and Elliot's strong dislike of her hostile attitude toward him. Paula is in for some surprises. Among them, she discovers that Elliott likes to play his guitar 3:00 in the morning, and meditates and chants at the crack of dawn.

Paula and Elliott both have their share of problems. Paula, who desperately needs a job, discovers that she isn't cut out to go back to dancing, and Elliott is stuck with a director (Paul Benedict) who envisions Richard, The Third as being a homosexual. As they help each other through their individual troubles, they fall in love, despite themselves, which generates some problems as well, due to past emotional baggage of both Paula and Lucy.

The sparkling screenplay was by Neil Simon, that not only shines through a great cast, & great comic timing, but has great pacing that holds up nicely, all under Herb Ross's direction.

Marsha Mason did a wonderful job portraying the change in her character, from a hurt, angry, dependent woman, to a confident woman willing to love and accept a man on his own merits once more, as she transforms because of her experiences with Elliott. Plus, she is willing to listen to Elliot's kernels of truth and think about them.

Richard Dreyfuss as Elliott Garfield has never been more charming, energetic and convincing as an actor who has his hands full, with a hostile apt. mate, her cute 10 year old daughter, and finds himself in a play production that could possibly end his acting career in New York. His great talent shines through his character, as he gives the audience a whole range of human emotions, as he goes through his various work and personal adventures. Richard Dreyfuss won the Best Actor Oscar for his role, beating out Richard Burton! One can see why from the following favorite sequence.

My favorite scene takes place in the theater. His eccentric director, Mark, prides himself in his radically different vision about how to present "Richard III," which is far from the traditional presentation, to say the least. Against his better instincts, Dreyfuss offers a gay interpretation of "Richard III." The results are hilarious, if a bit squirmy. Only an actor as talented as Dreyfuss could give such a BAD performance; all with a straight face. Upon reading the awful reviews, Elliot gets drunk as a skunk, and laments to Paula, "I was an Elizabethan fruit fly." I was "the Betty Boop of Stratford-on-Avon." I was "putrid." Capital P, capital U, capital TRID.

Dreyfuss and Mason together were a very believable couple, and played well off each other lines, expressions, emotions, performances and really produced some romantic sparks on film.

Quinn Cummings, as Lucy, is terrific as Paula's wise-cracking daughter, offering a lot to the film. Her character shows the adults in her life, that what they choose to do privately also affects her personally. Her rapport and performance with Dreyfuss and Mason is quite precocious for a child actress, and her performance adds a lot to the enjoyment of the film.

"The Goodbye Girl" is a great date movie because it is funny, charming, heartwarming, and a little sexy. It promotes the hope that One can find love and commitment in the right relationship, despite previous bad experiences with the opposite sex.

If you enjoyed THE GOODBYE GIRL, you may like IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, HOUSE SITTER, ONLY WHEN I LAUGH, THE ODD COUPLE , THE FAMILY MAN, and/or ANOTHER STAKEOUT.