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Shot by a jealous husband, Charley falls out a porthole and is lost at sea only to find himself returned as an attractive blond woman. His best friend is staying at his house as he puts Charlie's affairs in order and after being convinced, finds himself an unwilling helper in Charlie's new plan to marry into money. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
The first five minutes or so of "Goodbye, Charlie" are simply sublime. But you can turn it off after the "Directed by Vincente Minnelli" credit comes on. But let's back up.
20th Century Fox logo on and off. Nice Cinemascope shot of a yacht off the Malibu coast at night, with jazzy-rock music in the far distance and a distant swingin' party on board. Three star credits come on and off: "Tony Curtis," "Debbie Reynolds," "Pat Boone." Onto the boat, where a raucous Hollywood party is in full swing. Director Minnelli captures all the phoniness and glamour of the party. A superfast psueudo-rock number -- "Seven at Once" -- is blaring on the "Hi-Fi" as heavy-bosomed Playmate of the Year Donna Michelle shakes her ample breasts in a low cut gold dress (in 1964, this was "sexy.") Hot young folks are dancing while stuffy old agent Martin Gabel looks on with peptic-ulcer angst. Some handsome matrons (Ellen Macrae, soon Burstyn, Joanna Barnes) try to swing with the Playmate, but to no avail. Walter Matthau (in gray wig and blazer) plays poker and puffs on a big stogie.
Old-fashioned director Vincente Minnelli tries some new-fashioned "hand-held camera" work (see: that year's earlier "A Hard Day's Night") to capture the ensuing action: Matthau's wife Laura Devon (the second sexiest woman after Playmate Donna Michelle) sneaks off for some hot below decks lovemaking with the barely seen stud screenwriter, "Charlie." Matthau snoops around in the kitchen of the yacht, and gets a gun when the maid isn't looking(this part of the sequence is like the opening murder sequence in the same December's "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" ) Matthau then bursts in on his wife and Charlie, starts shooting.
Charlie jumps out a porthole into the ocean, but Walter's bullets kill him before he hits the drink.
The party guests rush to the side of the boat and look down into the ocean where Charlie fell. Credits fly out of the water as a raucous male-female chorus sings the swinging, fun title song "Goodbye, Charlie! Hate to see you go..." What follows is a regulation 1964 animation sequence of deep sea creatures in the deep blue sea (where Charlie has gone to rest, soon to return as Debbie Reynolds) and that infectious title tune about a lothario getting his just desserts. (This song got a lot of radio play in '64/'65.) Vincente Minnelli was a pro, and this opening sequence is a lot of fun as the old (studio production values in costumes and yacht interior) fights with the new (hand-held camera, Playmate of the Year boobs) in a raucous sing-a-long opening that bids farewell to Hollywood's studio era and plants the genre as dead as Charlie with the counterculture years ahead.
"Goodbye, Charlie!" indeed...hate to see you go.
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