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.
Simon's script melts with humor and heart from start to finish. It's one that gets better with every viewing.
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.
Dreyfus is just mesmerizing and hilarious, and Marsha Mason was very good. A very enjoyable, uplifting movie.
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.
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.
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.
Richard Dreyfuss was on the cusp of stardom after his performance in "Jaws," and his double score this year with "The Goodbye Girl" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" launched him into the big time. Marsha Mason was perfect at playing roles like this -- vulnerable softies looking for love while at the same time tough cookies who could make it on their own if forced to. In this film, the two meet cute when Dreyfuss shows up at Mason's apartment, having subletted it from Mason's boyfriend, who dumped her and took off without telling her that she and her ten-year-old daughter would be left with no place to live. Dreyfuss, a struggling actor, agrees to let the mom and daughter stay in the apartment with him, and of course after much bickering, the two fall in love. The movie is at its best when Dreyfuss and Mason are fighting. My favorite line is delivered by Mason after one of their many run-ins over Dreyfuss's bohemian living habits: "I don't know you well enough to truly dislike you, but you are just too weird to live with."
Quinn Cummings gives an adorable performance as Mason's daughter. She manages to be both precocious and cute (think Tatum O'Neal in "Paper Moon"), a tough feat for a child actor. In one of the first scenes, while Mason is reading the dear john letter left by her louse of a boyfriend, who's left to star in a Bertolucci film, Cummings, instead of asking questions about what happened between her mom and boyfriend, or what they're going to do, or any other number of things it would make sense for a child to ask about, wants to know instead who Bertolucci is and what movies he's directed. A kid after my own heart.
I'm not usually that big on love stories, but this one was so entertaining and simultaneously touching that I found myself looking up after two hours, feeling like five minutes had just gone by. An easy classic, 10/10.
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.
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.