The Goodbye Girl (1977)

The Goodbye Girl (1977)

Taglines: Thank you Neil Simon for making us laugh at falling in love…again.

A divorced woman and her daughter come home to find that her boyfriend has left for an out of town job with no warning. This has happened before. The second surprise comes in the form of another actor who has sublet the apartment from her boyfriend (who did not mention the pair of females who would be in residence). After some negotiation the two decide to share the apartment even though she has vowed to stay away from actors.

The Goodbye Girl is a 1977 American romantic comedy-drama film. Produced by Ray Stark and directed by Herbert Ross, the film stars Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, Quinn Cummings, and Paul Benedict. The original screenplay by Neil Simon centers on an odd trio: a struggling actor who has sublet a Manhattan apartment from a friend, the current occupant (his friend’s ex-girlfriend, who has just been abandoned), and her precocious young daughter.

Richard Dreyfuss won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Elliot Garfield. At the time he became the youngest man to win an Oscar for Best Actor.

About the Story

Dancer Paula McFadden (Marsha Mason) and her ten-year-old daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings) live in a Manhattan apartment with her married boyfriend, Tony DeForrest, until one day, he deserts her to go act in a movie in Italy. Before he left and unbeknownst to Paula, Tony subleased the apartment to Elliot Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss), a neurotic but sweet aspiring actor from Chicago, who shows up in the middle of the night expecting to move in. Though Paula is demanding, and makes clear from the start that she doesn’t like Elliot, he allows her and Lucy to stay.

Paula struggles to get back into shape to resume her career as a dancer. Meanwhile, Elliot has landed the title role in an off-off-Broadway production of Richard III, but the director, Mark (Paul Benedict), wants him to play the character as an exaggerated stereotype of a homosexual, in Mark’s words, “the queen who wanted to be king.” Reluctantly, Elliot agrees to play the role, despite full knowledge that it may mean the end of his career as an actor. Many theater critics from television stations and newspapers in New York City attend opening night, and they all savage the production, especially Elliot’s performance. The play quickly closes, much to his relief.

Despite their frequent clashes and Paula’s ungrateful attitude to Elliot helping her, the two fall in love and sleep together. However, Lucy, although she likes Elliot, sees the affair as a repeat of what happened with Tony. Elliot convinces Paula that he will not be like that and later picks up Lucy from school and takes her on a carriage ride, during which Lucy admits that she likes Elliot, and he admits that he likes her and Paula and will not do anything to hurt them.

The Goodbye Girl Movie Poster (1977)

The Goodbye Girl (1977)

Directed by: Herbert Ross
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, Quinn Cummings, Paul Benedict, Barbara Rhoades, Theresa Merritt, Patricia Pearcy
Screenplay by: Neil Simon
Production Design by: Albert Brenner
Cinematography by: David M. Walsh
Film Editing by: John F. Burnett
Costume Design by: Ann Roth
Set Decoration by: Jerry Wunderlich
Music by: Dave Grusin
Distributed by Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release Date: November 30, 1977