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Congresswoman Agatha Reed returns to her alma mater for homecoming, although she's more interested in renewing her romance with an old flame who's now the college president. Their attempts at rekindling any sparks are thwarted by the arrival of another rival for her affections and the showing of her controversial film which could put her former beau's job in jeopardy. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
Dr. James Merrill and Agatha Reed recite the beginning of the poem by the American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892), "Good-Bye My Fancy," which gave the title to this movie: "Good-bye my Fancy! / Farewell dear mate, dear love! / I'm going away, I know not where, / Or to what fortune, or whether I may ever see you again, / So Good-bye my Fancy." See more »
Agatha picks up a cigarette and table lighter just before Dr. Pitt comes into her room. She stands and holds them both, the cigarette unlit for the remainder of the scene. See more »
Open your eyes, Aggie. This is a lost world up here. And Merrill's the perfect president for it.
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Goodbye My Fancy finds Joan Crawford taking over a role popularized by fellow film star Madeline Carroll on stage as a member of the House Of Representatives coming back to her former college to accept an honorary degree. She's invited by college president and former boyfriend Robert Young.
There's a lot of history here and this is the only degree she'll have from the College Of New Hope for women located in rural New England. Back in the day apparently Crawford was a wild child, at least wild by those standards back then. She got into a compromising situation with Young and she took the fall by herself and got expelled for it. In the interim Young in addition to rising to the presidency of the college married a woman who died and has a daughter, Janice Rule, who is going to be one of the graduates at the ceremony Crawford gets her degree.
Crawford went into journalism and then politics. She's combining the two at this point having produced a documentary about the current social problems of Europe and how Fascism by curtailing free speech contributed mightily to them. She's hoping to show the film while she's at the college.
Her opponent in this endeavor is the chairman of the board Howard St. John who also happens to be now married to Crawford's former roommate Lurene Tuttle. He's got the part that actors like Eugene Palette and Charles Dingle normally were cast in, the arrogant, self righteous right wing blowhard who thinks he ought to be controlling the educational process. Not that he's against free speech mind you, but he feels that kids should not be exposed to this kind of serious work. He in fact donated the campus movie theater and he'd like for them to show entertainment that he approves of, such as his favorites Abbott&Costello.
Young's dependent on St. John's good will for his job. But one who isn't and is also a rival for Crawford is Frank Lovejoy, a Time&Life war photographer who is covering this event. He'll expose Young's timidity if for no other reason than to shame him in front of Joan.
Goodbye My Fancy was written by Fay Kanin and ran for 446 performances on Broadway during the 1948-49 season and was directed by Sam Wanamaker who also played the Frank Lovejoy part. The college president was played by another former movie name, Conrad Nagel.
The play took home a Tony Award for Shirley Booth who played Crawford's Congressional aide and has some really funny Eve Arden type lines. When the film came out the Eve Arden part was played by Eve Arden.
The play draws heavily on themes expressed in James Thurber's The Male Animal. If anything it's more serious here because whereas in The Male Animal, trustee Eugene Palette objected to the content in reading Nicolo Sacco's letter in class, St. John just objects to the idea of material that is mind challenging in the classroom in general. What does this imbecile think they're going to college for. In fact there's a minor role played by Morgan Farley as a physics professor who is intending to leave the college because of the limits he's being put under and Farley plays it well.
Coming out as it did during the House Un-American Activities Committee days and after Joe McCarthy started finding Communists in all kinds of places, Goodbye My Fancy was quite the courageous project for Warner Brothers at the time. It's a timeless tribute to the value of free speech and the marketplace of ideas that a university is supposed to be.
This is a film that I think needs a remake. Can you see some trustee on a university today throwing his weight around and maybe filling the campus cinema with reruns of Saturday Night Live in order that students not concentrate on serious issues?
I think it could be done.
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