50th Academy Awards

The Goodbye Girl (1977) Review | Jamie Daily

“The Goodbye Girl” (1977)
50th Academy Awards 1978
3/5 Stars
Nominated for 5 Academy Awards, of which it won 1.
Nominated for Best Actress (Marsha Mason), Best Supporting Actress (Quinn Cummings), Best Picture (Ray Stark), and Writing – Original Screenplay (Neil Simon).
Won Best Actor (Richard Dreyfuss).
Watched August 14, 2012.


A large part of me loves everything about the writing, the characters, and the acting in “The Goodbye GIrl.”  There are witty monologues, predictability that only a romantic comedy can bring, and plenty of tears.  The film begins with Paula (Marsha Mason) and her daughter (Quinn Cummings) coming home to discover that Paula’s live-in boyfriend has skipped town to be in a film in Italy.  Devastated by being “dumped on” by another actor, Paula immediately jumps into dancing, trying to get back in shape so that she can get a job to feed her daughter.  Adding insult to injury, she later finds out that her now ex-boyfriend sublet their apartment to an actor from Chicago for the next three months.  Incensed when Elliot (Richard Dreyfuss), shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night, they make a deal with one another.  They will share the apartment.  This in itself opens the door to both comedy and predictability.


Because Paula had been previously hurt by an actor (or two… or three), she is incredibly hesitant to put any positive feelings into her strained relationship with Elliot.  He is an eccentric person who sleeps in the nude, plays guitar at midnight, meditates (loudly) at 6am, and eats only health food.  He does very little to help the situation by always pointing out that it is technically his apartment since he paid for it, and he doesn’t have to abide by any of her rules.  This continues until one afternoon, when Paula is robbed and Elliot semi-attempts to get her bag back.  For the first time, we see a truly good side of Dreyfuss’ character, as well as the crushingly realistic devastation of Mason.


I’ll leave the rest for you to discover, as I am sure you can probably figure it out for yourselves.


I see “The Goodbye Girl” as typical 70s filmmaking.  Granted, in the future, I will be much more educated on this decade, but the film stood out to me as something very similar to most of what I have already seen from the era.  In that sense, I enjoyed it.  It isn’t necessarily something that stands the test of time, with the ever changing American movie taste being what it is, but in terms of the majority of its nominations, I can agree with them.


If we take away the witty, unrealistic dialogue, and watch the scenes together instead of admiring them separately, the story as a whole does not flow in a likely pattern.  Things happen either too quickly or too slowly, and Paula’s behavior toward Elliot for most of the film has me wondering how he ever fell for a woman like her.  Granted, many of her personality “faults” are rooted deeply within her and make sense due to her character’s past. Something about Elliot makes me feel as if he doesn’t take that sort of nonsense lightly.  The rate at which he falls for her threw me completely off guard, so much so that I couldn’t even enjoy the end of the movie–you know, the romantic bit, which is something I normally go gaga over.


Because of this, I gave the film 3 out of 5 stars.  If you are a fan of classics from the 70s and have somehow missed this one, please add “The Goodbye Girl” to your list!


Sources: IMDBRotten TomatoesRoger Ebert.Suntimes

Saturday Night Fever (1977) Review | Jamie Daily

Saturday Night Fever (1977)
50th Academy Awards, 1978
3/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 Oscar: best actor (John Travolta).
Box Office: $237.1 million (Rotten Tomatoes).
Watched: July 7, 2012.
Rated: R


First of all, I love the 70s.  Everything about this John Badham film screams the 70s.  The style, the hair, the dancing–it is a fantastic exploration of America’s past culture.  I loved it.  But watching something like this might make me think that everywhere in the States was like Brooklyn in ’76.  I’m already a fan of Travolta, although his acting is dated.  The fact that he was nominated for best actor shows that his acting was appreciated in the 70s.  Maybe it was the cinematography that made his acting dated–the lack of close up shots in comparison to now.  The long editing could also have played a part.  By this I mean that the editing is slow–especially in the beginning.  I noticed a lot of dead room in shots, and also a lot of repeats of shots.  For example, when in school, I was always told to avoid telling the audience the same thing over and over again.  We understand that he is walking down the street with a paint can and that the low angled shots imply he feels empowered, but now we would like some new information.

I am getting ahead of myself.  For those of you who are wondering, Saturday Night Fever is a classic–a coming of age film that represents the time after birth control and before AIDS.  It will forever be what people know John Travolta for.  It is his staple film, even more so than the 1977 hit Grease.  His character Tony is a Brooklyn native whose goal in life is to dance.  He works days at the local hardware store and blows all his money at the disco every weekend.  All of the girls love him, and one in particular (Annette) would do anything to have him.  He is in his own world, especially when he dances.  He loves the attention and is very well aware of his status among his peers.  One night at the disco, he sees a girl who is a dancer like no one he has ever seen before.  Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) is also a Brooklyn native.  She has just recently started a job in Manhattan.

In a sense, Saturday Night Fever is a character study with a lot of dancing.  A twist on Romeo and Juliet, which we are kindly clued in on through Tony and Stephanie’s first “coffee” date (which is really a tea date because that’s what all the women are drinking these days, didn’t you know?).  It becomes more and more obvious that Stephanie is a name dropper and wants so badly to be more than what she is.  She does everything she can to embarrass Tony and to put him down.  In her mind she is too good for Tony.  Tony likewise wants more than what he has–all he wants to do with his life is dance.  His father very clearly wants more for him, but what more can you ask from a 19-year-old who doesn’t want to go to college?


When Tony and Stephanie find that they can’t communicate with words, they communicate through dance.  Tony’s life is all encompassed by dance–his life and dance are one in the same.  Therefore, if someone implies that he get an education or search out a career, his very life is being called into question.  The original BeeGees songs that back many of Tony’s scenes are representative of his inner monologue, stripping the film of its subtlety.  Everything in the film is very rhythmic.

I gave the film 3 out of 5 stars.  I’m not a huge fan of R rated films for the sex, nudity, drugs, and language, all of which are a huge part of Saturday Night Fever.  Also, the cinematography was exaggerated, the editing was loose, and the entire film was too long.  The acting was acceptable, as well as the dancing, but from someone who watches “So You Think You Can Dance” religiously, I was only mildly entertained.  If you would like to watch a dated, fictitious representation of Brooklyn in the 1970s, and see John Travolta in all his glory, this should definitely be added to your list of films to watch.

Have you seen Saturday Night Fever?  What did you think?

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Sources: IMDBRotten Tomatoeshttp://www.broadstreetreview.com/index.php/main/article/saturday_night_fever_revisited/http://parallax-view.org/2010/08/03/review-saturday-night-fever/