The Goodbye Girl

Starring Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss
Directed by Herbert Ross
USA 1977
110 mins

In the last month we have lost a number of remarkable and diverse talents - Fenella Fielding and Burt Reynolds to name but two. However one of the truly great comedy writers of cinema passed away almost unnoticed on the 26th August at the age of 91 - Neil Simon.

Simon left behind an extraordinary body of writing for both stage and screen - 'Barefoot In The Park', 'The Odd Couple', 'Plaza Suite', 'The Heartbreak Kid', 'The Prisoner Of Second Avenue', 'The Sunshine Boys' - the list goes on.

Simon began his career in radio and television - including scripting for the legendary 'Phil Silvers Show' in the late 1950s. His successful career as a playwright led to frequent adaptations of his own work for the movies and TV - perhaps his most famous creation being 'The Odd Couple' about an ill-suited pair of bachelors sharing an apartment in New York.

Many of his stories are set in that iconic city - including the romantic comedy we have chosen as our tribute - 'The Goodbye Girl'.

When dancer Paula McFadden's boyfriend leaves for Italy he fails to tell her that he has sub-let the apartment where she lives with her young daughter to Elliot Garfield, an up-and-coming actor who has come to New York from Chicago. The two reluctantly agree to live there together...

At the age of 30 Richard Dreyfuss was the youngest ever actor to win an Oscar for his role as Elliot while Marsha Mason was herself married to Neil Simon during the production of the film.

'The Goodbye Girl' embodies many of the virtues of Simon's writing - great one-liners, recognisable characters and a sophisticated but sympathetic style. Watch out in particular for the hilarious rehearsal scenes featuring Elliot as Shakespeare's Richard III.