The Goodbye Girl

The Goodbye Girl

Infobox Film
name = The Goodbye Girl

caption =
writer = Neil Simon
starring = Richard Dreyfuss
Marsha Mason
Quinn Cummings
director = Herbert Ross
producer = Ray Stark
distributor = Warner Bros.
released = 30 November 1977
runtime = 110 minutes
language = English
budget =
imdb_id = 0076095

"The Goodbye Girl" is a 1977 American comedy film. Directed by Herbert Ross, the film stars Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, Quinn Cummings, and Paul Benedict. The title song, performed by David Gates, became a pop hit. The original screenplay by Neil Simon centers on an odd trio - an egotistical 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 pre-teen daughter.

"The Goodbye Girl" was subsequently developed into a 1993 Broadway musical of the same name starring Martin Short and Bernadette Peters. A 2004 TNT remake with Jeff Daniels and Patricia Heaton keeps the screenplay from the original version.


Paula McFadden (Marsha Mason) learns she has been dumped by her boyfriend Tony and he has sublet their apartment. Shortly thereafter, Elliot Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss) shows up unexpectedly in the middle of the night expecting to live there. Paula has no choice but to let him move in with her and her 10-year-old daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings). To Paula's disgust, Elliot turns out to be an actor, just like Tony. Since she cannot return Elliot's rent money, she has no choice but to let him move in. However, she makes it very clear from the start that she considers him extremely annoying and unlikeable.

Paula struggles to get back into shape to try to resume her career as a dancer. Meanwhile, Elliot has his own problems. He has landed the title role in a 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." The play quickly closes.

Despite their frequent clashes, Paula and Elliot fall in love. Then, Elliot is offered a fantastic opportunity that he cannot turn down. The only catch is that the job is in another city. Paula is scared that Elliot is leaving her, never to return, like all the other men in her life.


*Richard Dreyfuss as Elliot Garfield
*Marsha Mason as Paula McFadden
*Quinn Cummings as Lucy McFadden
*Paul Benedict as Mark
*Barbara Rhoades as Donna
*Theresa Merritt as Mrs. Crosby
*Michael Shawn as Ronnie
*Patricia Pearcy as Rhonda


The film began as a screenplay called "Bogart Slept Here", to star Robert DeNiro and Mason. [cite web |url= |title=Spotlight - The Goodbye Girl | |author=Sarah Heiman |accessdate=2008-03-16] After several table readings, it was decided DeNiro wasn't right for the role. Dreyfuss was brought in to try out with Mason. At the end of the reading, Neil Simon decided, "It doesn't work, but they do." He rewrote the screenplay in six weeks.

The Paula McFadden character is actually based on Marsha Mason. Neil Simon and Mason were married from 1973 to 1981.

The film's exteriors were shot in New York City and the interiors were shot in Los Angeles.

The film was co-produced by Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and is now fully owned by the former due to several transactions involving the latter's pre-1986 library.

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

*Academy Award for Best Actor - Dreyfuss. Thirty-year-old Dreyfuss was the youngest ever to win the Best Actor Oscar at the time. He has since been surpassed by Adrien Brody, who was 29 when he won for "The Pianist".
*Academy Award for Best Picture nomination - Ray Stark
*Best Actress nomination - Mason
*Supporting Actress nomination - Cummings
*Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen nomination - Simon

Golden Globes

*Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
*Best Motion Picture Actor, Musical or Comedy - Dreyfuss
*Best Motion Picture Actress, Musical or Comedy - Mason
*Best Motion Picture Screenplay - Simon
*Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role nomination - Cummings

British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards

*Best Actor - Dreyfuss
*Best Actress nomination - Mason
*Best Screenplay nomination - Simon


Roger Ebert gave the film a mixed, though mostly-favorable review. He was unimpressed with Mason's performance and the character as written, calling it "hardly ever sympathetic."cite web |url= |title=The Goodbye Girl |author=Roger Ebert | |date=January 1 1977 |accessdate=2008-03-16] However, he praised Dreyfuss and cited his "Richard III" scenes as "the funniest in a movie since Mel Brooks staged "Springtime for Hitler"." Ebert criticized the beginning as "awkward at times and never quite involving", but "enjoyed its conclusion so much that we almost forgot our earlier reservations."

On the other hand, Vincent Canby of "The New York Times" found the film to be "Exhausting without being much fun."cite web |url= |title='Goodbye Girl' Full of Wisecracks |author=Vincent Canby |publisher="The New York Times" ( |date=December 1 1977 |accessdate=2008-03-16] and "relentlessly wisecracked".

Sources point to this film as the first romantic comedy to break the $100 million mark.


External links

*imdb title|id=0076095|title=The Goodbye Girl
*ibdb title|id=4706|title=The Goodbye Girl

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