The Goodbye Girl (1977)

The Goodbye Girl (1977)
In this critically acclaimed film by Neil Simon, a man and woman discover that love can bloom when least expected, no matter how vast their differences. This film was made in 1977 and was immensely successful, even securing an Oscar for Richard Dreyfuss in the lead role. It was directed by Herbert Ross (directed Footloose, Steel Magnolias), and was eagerly recieved by Neil Simon's fans; during the same time frame in which he wrote "The Goodbye Girl," he'd written five critically acclaimed screenplays, plays, and scripts.

The Goodbye Girl is the story of a young single mom who is suddenly abandoned by her boyfriend, an actor who lands a role - in another country. Unbeknownst to her, the boyfriend has not only left her, but sublet the apartment they shared to a man she doesn't even know. When the man shows up at her apartment claiming to have the right to live there, she is wary and highly annoyed but eventually gives into his continued demands to move into the apartment.

The woman Paula McFadden, was played by Marsha Mason who was then known mostly for her TV work. She played opposite Richard Dreyfuss as Elliot Garfield, then popular for his roles in "Jaws" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Paula McFadden's young daughter Lucy was well played by child actress Quinn Cummings, who was also known for television roles. The three characters make an interesting dynamic: Paula is a struggling dancer who is leery of all actors after what her boyfriend did. Elliot tries hard to win Paula over, constantly overcoming her rebuffs and rejections, and Lucy is the precocious child who occasionally brings her mother back down to Earth.

Although Neil Simon later modernized the film (2004), making it a TV special, "The Goodbye Girl" was never better than it was in the original format. The lead actors, Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss have a wonderful chemistry, as does Marsha Mason and Quinn Cummings, who at times seem closer to best friends than mother and daugher. The plot is believable and fun - this storyline was still relatively new and hadn't been done repeatedly by other films. This work is definitely Neil Simon at his best and has a wonderful combination of laughter, romance, and even a few tears.

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