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The Goodbye Girl is a 1977 Americanmarker comedy film. Directed by Herbert Ross, the film stars Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, Quinn Cummings, and Paul Benedict. The original screenplay by Neil Simon centers on an odd trio—an egotistical struggling actor who has sublet a Manhattanmarker apartment from a friend, the current occupant (his friend's ex-girlfriend, who has just been abandoned) and her precocious pre-teen daughter.


Paula McFadden (Marsha Mason) learns she has been dumped by her boyfriend Tony and he has sublet their apartment. Shortly thereafter, the neurotic, but sweet Elliot Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss) shows up unexpectedly in the middle of the night expecting to live there. Since she cannot return Elliot's rent money, Paula has no choice but to let him move in with her and her 10-year-old daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings). 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.



The film began as a screenplay called Bogart Slept Here (essentially the story of what happened to Dustin Hoffman after he became a star), that was to star Robert DeNiro and Mason. 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 based on Marsha Mason, who was married to Neil Simon from 1973 to 1981.

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

The title song was written and performed by David Gates, and was a #15 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

The film was co-produced by Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is the only film in the WB library whose copyright is owned by both WB and Turner Entertainment (the initial buyer of MGM's pre-1986 library).

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

Golden Globes

British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards


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." 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."

Vincent Canby of The New York Times found the film to be "exhausting without being much fun." and "relentlessly wisecracked".

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

Musical and remake

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, but is considered to be inferior to the original .

In Popular Culture

In an episode of That '70s Show, Fez, Jackie, Donna, and Kelso go see The Goodbye Girl.

The O.C. and, Gossip Girl both have episode titles based on the title of The Goodbye Girl.


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