Neil Simon is one of the 20th century’s preeminent screenwriters. I always said I would love to spend an evening with him just so I could experience his wit and wisdom. Before writing his classic plays/films, Simon wrote for some of the biggest names on TV. Then he gave us Come Blow Your Horn, Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Sweet Charity, The Out of Towners, The Heartbreak Kid, The Sunshine Boys, The Goodbye Girl, Chapter Two, and many, many more unforgettable comedies. Every one of his films has two special ingredients: comedy and charm.
Warner Archive Collection just released the Blu-ray version of the 1977 film The Goodbye Girl starring Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, and introducing a delightful and precocious young actress, Quinn Cummings. The dialogue in this movie is fast-paced and very witty.
When single mother Paula (Mason) and her 10-year-old daughter Lucy (Cummings) get abandoned by her boyfriend, they quickly learn he has sublet their apartment to a friend, Elliot (Dreyfuss). To make the arrangement work financially for all of them, they decide to share the apartment.
In the beginning Elliot and Paula are like oil and water. After being dumped twice before, she is gun-shy when it comes to trusting anyone, let alone a man and an actor at that! Her luck has always been bad, but by the end of the film it changes 180 degrees.
Elliot has his quirks. He loves to play his guitar in the middle of the night and in the nude. He meditates and chants. Paula, on the other hand, is not at peace or calm in any way. She is ready to pounce on anyone, especially Elliot. Her life is crumbling around her and she feels distraught. But Elliot’s calming influence has a way with her and soon they become more than just roommates. They become friends, and eventually a couple. When Elliot gets a job offer in Washington State, it seems to Paula that her luck hasn’t changed at all. That is until she realizes that this is not goodbye. Elliot will return.
David Gates (of the music group Bread) wrote and performed the title song, The Goodbye Girl. This is a song that you won’t be able to get out of your head once the credits stop rolling. It’s a wonderful song and a good way to end this very delightful film.
Neil Simon is still imparting audiences with his witty talent, writing for the current TV series The Odd Couple. If you want to experience more films with his incomparable dialogue, check out Max Dugan Returns (1983), Chapter Two (1979), Barefoot in the Park (1967), Biloxi Blues (1988), and, well, just look for anything by Neil Simon and you won’t be disappointed.
The Blu-ray edition of The Goodbye Girl is part of the Warner Archive Collection and can be ordered at their website, http://www.wbshop.com.