AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Goodbye Girl
Alternate Title: Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl
Director: Herbert Ross (Dir)
Release Date:   30 Nov 1977
Premiere Information:   New York premiere: 27 Nov 1977 at the Loews Astor Plaza Theater; New York opening: 30 Nov 1977; Los Angeles opening: 9 Dec 1977
Production Date:   22 Feb--early May 1977 in New York City
Duration (in mins):   110
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Cast: Starring: Richard Dreyfuss (Elliot Garfield)  
  [and] Marsha Mason (Paula McFadden)  
  And introducing Quinn Cummings (Lucy McFadden) as Lucy
  With Paul Benedict (Mark)  
  With Barbara Rhoades (Donna)  
  With Theresa Merritt (Mrs. Crosby)  
  And Marilyn Sokol (Linda)  
    Michael Shawn (Ronnie)  
    Patricia Pearcy (Rhonda)  
    Gene Castle (Assistant choreographer)  
    Daniel Levans (Dance instructor)  
    Anita Dangler (Mrs. Morganweiss)  
    Victoria Boothby (Mrs. Bodine)  
    Robert Costanzo (Liquor store salesman)  
    Poncho Gonzalez (Mugger)  
    José Machado (Mugger)  
    Hubert Kelly (Mugger)  
    Dana Laurita (Cynthia)  
    Dave Cass (Drunk)  
    Loyita Chapel (Strip club dancer)  
    Caprice Clarke (Strip club dancer)  
    Esther Sutherland (Strip club manager)  
    Clarence Felder (Critic)  
    Kensuke Haga (Japanese salesman)  
    Ryohei Kanokogi (Japanese salesman)  
    Ruby Holbrook (Woman in audience)  
    Kristina Hurrell (Gretchen)  
    David Matthau (Furniture mover)  
    Milt Oberman (Furniture mover)  
    Eddie Villery (Painter)  
    Joseph Carberry (Strip club customer)  
    Eric Uhler (Strip club customer)  
  Richard III cast: Ray Barry    
    Powers Boothe    
    Tom Everett    
    Janice Fuller    
    Munson Hicks    
    Robert Kerman    
    Jeanne Lange    
    Robert Lesser    
    Fred McCarren    
    Nicholas Mele    
    Maureen Moore    
    Joseph Regalbuto    
  [and] Peter Vogt    
  Improvisation group: Wendy Cutler    
    Susan Elliot    
    Andy Goldberg    
  [and] Paul Willson    

Summary: In New York City, former chorus girl Paula McFadden and her precocious ten-year-old daughter, Lucy, arrive home to discover a note from Paula’s boyfriend, Tony, who explains that he has left them to accept an acting role in a film production abroad. Devastated and penniless, Paula returns to dancing but finds she can no longer keep up. She soon learns that Tony sublet their apartment to his friend, fledgling actor Elliot Garfield, who arrives late one night from Chicago, Illinois, to claim his rental. Although Paula turns Elliot away, he calls from a pay phone outside to beg for compassion and she agrees share the apartment for three months, since Elliot has already paid the rent and she cannot afford the cost alone. Paula shows Elliot to Lucy’s bedroom and attempts to impose house rules, but Elliot argues that she must respect his odd habits, including morning meditation, late-night guitar playing and sleeping in the nude. The following morning, Paula and Lucy are awakened by Elliot’s meditative chants. When Paula complains, Elliot reports that he is preparing for his new role in an off-Broadway production of William Shakepeare’s Richard III and Paula protests that she will fail her audition due to sleep deprivation. That day, Paula is passed up for younger women at her dance try-out while Elliot conflicts with his theater director, who wants “Richard” to be portrayed as a homosexual. Paula is displeased when Elliot later brings his female co-star home to rehearse and Lucy suggests her mother is envious. One day, on a grocery excursion, Paula is robbed. Elliot’s failed attempt at regaining her stolen purse, which contains the last of her savings, provokes Paula’s antagonism, but Elliot charms Lucy at dinner. Despite Paula’s hostility, Elliot lends her money for Lucy’s care. Sometime later, Elliot begrudgingly prepares for his role as an effeminate “Richard” but fears that the play will mark the end of his budding career. Paula announces she has found work and returns Elliot’s cash. When she reports that Lucy is ill, Elliot soothes the girl with his guitar. Upon the premiere of Richard III, Elliot returns home intoxicated and shattered by terrible reviews, but Paula consoles him. The next morning, Elliot is relieved to learn the show is cancelled. Despite his lack of income, Paula asks Elliot to remain in the apartment so he can watch Lucy while she works as an emcee at an automobile show that evening. Paula is surprised and flustered when Elliot and Lucy arrive at the convention. She stumbles over her lines, provoking Elliot to feel better about his failed rendition of Richard III, and he compliments her. Leaving Lucy with her mother, Elliot announces that he is on his way to a new job, but declines to mention that it is at a strip club. There, Elliot is injured by a drunk patron but the audience gives Elliot a standing ovation, mistaking the fistfight for scripted entertainment. Returning home, Elliot attempts to seduce Paula and she scolds him, claiming she does not want to be happy. They make a date for the following evening and Paula races home from the convention to find that Elliot has decorated the roof of their building. As he tells her about his new job with an improvisation group, they take shelter from the rain, kiss and make love. In the morning, Lucy is displeased by the new arrangement. Both mother and daughter fear their hearts will be broken again, but Elliot pleads his sincerity. Later that day, Elliot picks Lucy up from school in a chartered horse-drawn carriage and secures the girl’s approval. Over time, Elliot achieves success in his improvisation troupe. Paula renovates the apartment with their new income and Elliot proposes marriage. However, a film director recruits Elliot for a movie in Seattle, Washington, and he jumps at the opportunity, leaving Paula to worry if he will leave her as Tony did. Elliot promises Paula that he will be back after the four-week shoot and she reflects that she is stronger because of their relationship. Elliot leaves, but he calls Paula later that night from the pay phone outside their apartment, announcing that he purchased plane tickets for two. Seeing Elliot’s gesture as a confirmation of his commitment, Paula decides to stay home with Lucy. Elliot asks Paula to have his guitar restrung while he is away, she hangs up the phone with joy, knowing he would not have left the instrument behind if he intended to leave permanently. Despite the pouring rain, Paula climbs onto the fire escape, clutching the guitar, and declares her love for Elliot, who is standing in the street below. She blows him goodbye kisses as he drives away in a taxicab.  

Production Text: A Ray Stark production
A Herbert Ross film
A Rastar feature
Brand Name:


Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures (A Warner Communications company)
Director: Herbert Ross (Dir)
  Roger M. Rothstein (Unit prod mgr)
  Jack Roe (Asst dir)
  Edward Markley (2d asst dir)
  Robert P. Cohen (2d asst dir, New York crew)
Producer: Ray Stark (Prod)
  Roger M. Rothstein (Assoc prod)
Writer: Neil Simon (Wrt)
Photography: David M. Walsh (Dir of photog)
  Roger Shearman (Cam op)
  William Steiner, Jr. (Cam op, New York crew)
  Norman Harris (Gaffer)
  Richard Quinlan (Gaffer, New York crew)
  Richard Moran (Key grip)
  Robert Ward (Key grip, New York crew)
  Mel Traxel (Still photog)
  Josh Weiner (Still photog, New York crew)
Art Direction: Albert Brenner (Prod des)
  Spencer Deverill (Asst art dir)
Film Editor: John F. Burnett (Ed)
  Margaret Booth (Supv ed)
  Michael A. Stevenson (Asst ed)
  Barbara Dunning (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Jerry Wunderlich (Set dec)
  Dennis J. Parrish (Prop master)
  Thomas Saccio (Prop master, New York crew)
Costumes: Ann Roth (Cost des)
  Seth Banks (Men`s ward)
  Shirlee Strahm (Women's ward)
Music: Dave Grusin (Mus scored and adpt by)
  Ted Whitfield (Mus ed)
  Harry V. Lojewski (Mus supv)
Sound: Jerry Jost (Sd)
  William McCaughey (Sd)
  James Sabat (Sd, New York crew)
  John P. Riordan (Sd ed)
Special Effects: Albert Griswold (Spec eff, New York crew)
  Wayne Fitzgerald (Titles)
  MGM (Opticals)
Make Up: Allan Whitey Snyder (Makeup)
  Kaye Pownall (Hair)
  Carrie White (Miss Mason's hair style)
Production Misc: Jennifer Shull (Casting)
  Cynnie Troup (Scr supv)
  Maggie Wilde (Prod secy)
  Shirley Marcus (Prod secy, New York crew)
  Regina Gruss (Unit pub)
  Martin Danzig (Loc mgr, New York crew)
  Cinemobile Systems (Locs by)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Goodbye Girl," written and performed by David Gates.
Composer: David Gates
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Turner Entertainment Company & Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc. 30/11/1977 dd/mm/yyyy LP51268

Physical Properties: Sd:
  col: Metrocolor®
  Lenses/Prints: Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®

 
Genre: Romantic comedy
 
Subjects (Major): Actors and actresses
  Apartments
  Family life
  New York City
  Romance
  Roommates
 
Subjects (Minor): Adolescents
  Breach of promise
  Chorus girls
  Courtship
  Dancers
  Drunkenness
  Engagements
  Mothers and daughters
  Poverty
  Richard III (Play)
  Robbery
  Separation (Marital)
  Single parents
  Telephone booths
  Unemployment

Note: The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and Note were written by participant Kelle Anzalone, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, with Jonathan Furner as academic advisor.
       End credits include the following written statement: “Filmed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and on location in New York City.”
       On 15 May 1976, LAT announced that Warner Bros. Pictures was set to co-produce the film with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M). Ray Stark was listed as producer with M-G-M’s director of worldwide production, Daniel Melnick, as executive producer. A 19 May 1976 Var news item, which stated that the film’s “tentative title” was Goodbye Girl, noted that the film marked the first collaboration between Warner Bros. and M-G-M; however, neither Melnick nor M-G-M is credited onscreen as a producer.
       Several months later, the 31 Jul 1976 LAT reported that writer Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl was not a rewrite of his film Bogart Slept Here, as previously rumored. Simon’s wife at that time, Marsha Mason, was set to star with Robert De Niro in Bogart Slept Here, but the production was cancelled after one week of filming in Fall 1975. According to a 22 May 1977 LAT article, Richard Dreyfuss was brought to the Bogart Slept Here production as a possible replacement for De Niro and the chemistry between Mason and Dreyfuss inspired Simon to restructure the story into The Goodbye Girl. In a 15 Mar 1977 Var article, Simon noted that The Goodbye Girl was written as a play and marked “the first and only time I wrote something specifically for the players,” adding that Bogart Slept Here could have been a sequel to The Goodbye Girl.
       According to 2 Mar 1977 Var production charts, principal photography began 22 Feb 1977. Reports of filming continued through early May 1977.
       An 18 Nov 1977 Var news item announced that the film’s 27 Nov 1977 New York City premiere at the Loews Astor Plaza Theater was a benefit for the city’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre.
       The film won four Golden Globe awards in the following categories: Best Motion Picture – Musical/Comedy, Best Motion Picture Actor--Musical/Comedy (Richard Dreyfuss), Best Motion Picture Actress--Musical/Comedy (Marsha Mason), Best Screenplay--Motion Picture (Neil Simon). Quinn Cummings received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role. All nominations were awarded with the exception of Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role. The picture was also nominated for five Academy Awards, including: Actor in a Leading Role (Richard Dreyfuss), Actress in a Leading Role (Marsha Mason), Actress in a Supporting Role (Quinn Cummings), Best Picture and Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen) for Neil Simon. Dreyfuss won the Best Actor Academy Award that year. The film was ranked #81 on AFI’s 2002 list of the top 100 love stories in American film, “100 Years… 100 Passions.”
       The Goodbye Girl was produced as a 1997 musical starring Bernadette Peters and Martin Short. It was also remade as a television film for the Turner Network Television (TNT) in 2003, with actors Patricia Heaton and Jeff Daniels. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Hollywood Reporter   16 Nov 1977   p. 2, 8.
Los Angeles Times   15 May 1976   Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times   31 Jul 1976   Section B, pp. 7-8.
Los Angeles Times   4 Dec 1977   Section X, p. 1, 36.
Los Angeles Times   22 May 1977   Section X, p.12.
New York Times   1 Dec 1977   p. 17.
Variety   19 May 1976.   
Variety   2 Mar 1977.   
Variety   15 Mar 1977.   
Variety   16 Nov 1977   p. 20.
Variety   18 Nov 1977.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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