The Goodbye Girl

Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss make chaotic magic in the romantic comedy classic THE GOODBYE GIRL.

Directed By Herbert Ross
Starring Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss
Release by Warner Brother Pictures
111 min. (1977)

The Goodbye Girl has a lot of good memories for me; my mom introduced it to me a long time ago and just like Gilmore Girls or Terms of Endearment is something that occasionally we like to curl up in bed together and watch when we want to get our girly-fix on.

Marsha Mason plays Paula, a thirty- something unemployed dancer and single mother who for the past two years has been living with her actor boyfriend Tony in New York City. But then Paula and her ten year old daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings, who is so good that you can’t help but wonder what she would have done had she had a career into adulthood) return home from shopping one afternoon and discover Tony has   run off to Italy for a film- and they’re not invited to join him. Heartbreak turns to fury when Paula then finds out that Tony also subleted the apartment to an actor friend of his named Elliot Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss) while he’s in town to do an off-Broadway production of Richard the Third. After initially refusing to let him in the no-nonsense Paula and the extroverted Elliot come to an arrangement where they will share the apartment- but of course neither of them likes it.

Written by Broadway legend Neil Simon the film definitely has the feeling of a play, heavy on character development and snappy dialogue.   “Ah we’re not moving to California- that means I have to do my homework, doesn’t it?” Lucy whines at the beginning of the film. Mason is amazing as the uptight Paula who slowly starts to warm to this crazy actor who comes barging into her life, but my favorite performance in this film is from Dreyfuss who is silly but wonderful as the struggling actor Elliot. It’s the small touches he adds to the performance that gets me, be it throwing a scarf over his shoulder or the way he does a little dance as Paula leads him into the bedroom. The chemistry between Mason and Dreyfuss is definitely the focal point of this film and from the moment they come into each others lives, you know that two people who argue that much onscreen are meant for each other.

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