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Goodbye, Columbus (1969)

The recent DL thread on Peter Bogdanovich took some interesting detours, including several posts about this film, which prompted me to revisit it. It had been many years since I’d seen it (and even more since I’d read the book,) but the movie still holds up very well overall. Some highlights:

Richard Benjamin does a wonderful deadpan, and is well-cast as Neil. He and Ali MacGraw have nice chemistry, and the scenes with the little boy in the library were quite moving. He and MacGraw’s fight scene at the hotel was a highlight, even though the cutting back and forth from profile shots looks odd and dated to a current viewer.

It’s not high praise to say it was Ali MacGraw’s best performance, considering some of her onscreen embarrassments, but she does a fine job indeed as Brenda. I know that Lesley Ann Warren was originally cast as Brenda before her pregnancy took her out of the project, and while Warren is a terrific actress, I’m not sure she would have been as effective as MacGraw turned out to be here. She’s natural and charming, and the camera loves her.

Jack Klugman is wonderful as Mr. Patimkin. The wedding sequence received some criticism at the time for indulging in Jewish stereotyping, but it includes Klugman’s best scene, a heart-to-heart with his beloved Brenda that is touching.

I can’t figure out the brother’s character — I know he is supposed to be a polite, sweet-natures doofus ex-jock, but what was all that ass-patting?

I kept thinking that some of the underscoring music sounded very familiar to me, then I realized watching the trailer that it reminded me of “Love American Style” — and no surprise there, Charles Fox did the scores for both “Goodbye, Columbus” and “LAS”. The trailer itself is very bland and not at all memorable, but the classic tag line on the poster was genius: “Every Father’s Daughter is a Virgin”.

What sayeth Datalounge on “Goodbye, Columbus”?

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by Anonymousreply 6911/24/2020

The theme song was sung by The Association (also known for "Never My Love," "Windy," "Cherish" and "Along Comes Mary").

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by Anonymousreply 103/13/2019

Philip Roth liked the film — eventually!

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by Anonymousreply 203/14/2019

I don't think it was Ali Magross's best film.

by Anonymousreply 303/14/2019

I find it an embarassing caricature of American Jews. Anti-semetic really.

by Anonymousreply 403/14/2019

Roth was often accused of self-loathing but he was just doing what every second or third generation American does about his or her own immigrant culture.

[quote]The trailer itself is very bland and not at all memorable,

Hooray for understated trailers. I loved trailers in the 60s and 70s, when they really teased you, rather than showing you the readers digest version of the whole movie, or blowing your eyeballs out of their sockets — or both.

This is such a wonderful TV trailer:

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by Anonymousreply 503/14/2019

Excellent analysis from a terrific blog!

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by Anonymousreply 603/14/2019

Underrated movie.

by Anonymousreply 702/20/2020

"She's very dark."

"Is she a Negro?"

by Anonymousreply 802/20/2020

Wrong link, R5.

by Anonymousreply 902/20/2020

I just re-watched it after many years.

I think it's awful.

Neil is such a creep. He just sneers at everyone including Brenda. He just wants to fuck her. No wonder her family hate him. I hate him too. & boy is he unattractive. Why Brenda likes him makes no sense at all. She's not so great either. She does her snarky 'I'm so pretty, so I can be a cunt" thing she repeats in Love Story.

I remember how great everyone thought it was at the time...or rather afterwards when it began to be on TV. Very well reviewed as well. But swiftly forgotten. Not a '60s classic.

Klugman's good. I don't usually like him. I guess the mother was pretty good as well.

by Anonymousreply 1011/21/2020

Why was Ali McGraw so popular then? And WHET?

by Anonymousreply 1111/21/2020

[quote]Why was Ali McGraw so popular then?

i never got her appeal, personally.

by Anonymousreply 1211/21/2020

Richard Benjamin always set me on edge, so annoying and homely.

by Anonymousreply 1311/21/2020

"Ali McGraws' best film" is just a euphemism for least embarrassing.

by Anonymousreply 1411/21/2020

Both Benjamin and McGraw are very unattractive.

by Anonymousreply 1511/21/2020

[quote]Both Benjamin and McGraw are very unattractive.

They snog and fool around a lot in this film. I FF'd those scenes.

and show their naked butts. This is his >

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by Anonymousreply 1611/21/2020


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by Anonymousreply 1711/21/2020

R5 = post covid brain fog

by Anonymousreply 1811/21/2020

I knew Lori Schell, She played Ali McGraws little sister in this movie She went on to a part as Gracie on Guiding light. She never did anything else

by Anonymousreply 1911/21/2020

LOVED this film when it first appeared and the novella as well. As noted, the screenplay is incredibly faithful to Roth's writing.

I think Richard Benjamin's casting as a somewhat unappealing everyman schlub was entirely intentional. He's not only meant to look physically inferior to Ali McGraw but also a little too old for her, a directionless guy who's allowed his youth to slip away. He's not the sexy rebellious Jew that Dustin Hoffman and Elliott Gould played. For those who don't appreciate Ali's performance, I suspect they weren't alive yet to see her sensational debut in person. It was only her succeeding film appearances that gave lie to the promise of this performance. And to be fair to her, Love Story and her follow up films were simply not nearly as good as Goodbye, Columbus, even if they were far bigger hits.

by Anonymousreply 2011/21/2020

Did the film actually change its setting to Bronx and Westchester instead of the novella's Newark and West Orange, NJ? I'm not remembering that.

by Anonymousreply 2111/21/2020

Is his last name pronounced Ben-ya-meen?

by Anonymousreply 2211/21/2020

[quote]Both Benjamin and McGraw are very unattractive.

Tastes change, I suppose, but back then, straight girls idolized her.

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by Anonymousreply 2311/21/2020

A popular woman's clothing brand back then, Villager, was sort of pre-preppy. She made that stuff look good. She also worked a rich hippy look.

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by Anonymousreply 2411/21/2020

I haven't seen it in years but I remember Ali McGraw wearing a yellow dress and her version of crying was to have her mouth wide open.

by Anonymousreply 2511/21/2020

She's a horrible actress. A cardboard cut out has more emotion.

by Anonymousreply 2611/21/2020

"she does a fine job indeed as Brenda"

That's because Ali was playing herself.

"Neil is such a creep. He just sneers at everyone including Brenda. He just wants to fuck her."

Welcome to Men 101.

"He's not the sexy rebellious Jew that Dustin Hoffman and Elliott Gould played"

Benjamin was a far better actor, at least where Elliott Gould was concerned.

"I suppose, but back then, straight girls idolized her."

Ha ha, NO.

by Anonymousreply 2711/21/2020

"Did the film actually change its setting to Bronx and Westchester"

Yes. The tennis scene, at least part of it, was filmed at my high school - Scarsdale.

They went to movies in White Plains, The Colony and The Pix, now no longer there. See White Plains thread.

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by Anonymousreply 2811/21/2020

In the book I think he lives in Newark NJ - or maybe Jersey City.

I remember one line from the book - his aunt would read about plane crashes, if there seemed to be many Jewish names in the obituary she'd say it was a tragedy, otherwise not.

by Anonymousreply 2911/21/2020

Were you a teenager in 1969, r28? I was.

Ali McGraw's clothes and hairstyles and makeup were followed rabidly by all young women, unlike any actresses . She was a true style icon replacing the mod Twiggy look. A terrible actress, yes, but a style icon for sure.

by Anonymousreply 3011/21/2020

Her best work was on Dynasty.

by Anonymousreply 3111/21/2020

Ali is probably at her best in Just Tell Me What You Want.

Having seen her at the Castro and in interviews over the years, it's baffling as to how she was such a wooden, cold actress. When she's herself, she's funny, warm and engaging. A great storyteller as well. She had the audience in the palm of her hand at the Castro.

by Anonymousreply 3211/21/2020

Let's say I was a teenager in 1970, and in Scarsdale HS, R30.

Ali MacGraw's clothers....her clothes were already out there, SHE, or the movie designers, followed what was out there. Ali-Goodbye Columbus didn't invent the style. They didn't create styles out of the blue for this movie. Can't you understand that????

by Anonymousreply 3311/21/2020

Of course Ali didn't invent" the style. I never said she did. Twiggy didn't "invent" the styles she wore either. But they popularized them and millions upon millions of girls followed and copied them because they wore them and looked so great in them and girls wanted to look like them.

by Anonymousreply 3411/21/2020

Those clothes only look good on thin people and everyone was thin back then.

by Anonymousreply 3511/21/2020

Those 1960s styles were popularized and worn before long before Goodbye Columbus. Those style were all you could buy in stores, people didn't copy movies or models-turned -actresses.

by Anonymousreply 3611/21/2020

The Ladybug and Villager clothing was already out there. Brenda wore it, just as Ruth V., Gianetta D., Diane L., Gayle G., Barbara G., Barbara M., and Jackie H. wore it in my NJ high school.

Also, though they [italic]shot[/italic] in New York locations, I don't think they changed the [italic]story[/italic] locations from Newark and Short Hills, NJ, to the Bronx and Scarsdale (am I wrong on that?)

by Anonymousreply 3711/21/2020

you're wrong - The Bronx is mentioned many times in the movie, Scarsdale is not.

I'm not sure how accessible Scarsdale is to the Bronx though.

by Anonymousreply 3811/21/2020

Scarsdale is much closer to the Bronx than it is to Newark.

by Anonymousreply 3911/21/2020

Yes, 12 miles, about 20 minutes in the car if you leave now.

by Anonymousreply 4011/21/2020

Fun fact: Roth wrote this at the University of Chicago when he was friends with a guy who was part of the Patinkin clan, a large family that included Mandy and Sheldon, a Second City director. Patinkin was changed to Patimkin in the book.

The Villager dresses, etc. became popular starting in '64 or so. The look was Sorority Girl 101 --pintucked shirtwaist dresses, madras and faux Liberty of London prints, wool sweaters handknit in Ireland, healthered wools and kilts with matching kneesocks, cordovan loafers and bags. 1968 or 1969 was the last year it was popular. It gave way to hippie garb. The Twiggy makeup and Mary Quant style dresses were concurrent but worn by different people. Artsy folkies, typified by Janis Ian, wore black with big hoop earrings.

Macgraw wore this in the movie but her personal style was nothing like this. Also, she was a lot older than people thought she was. She and Candace Bergen were consistently awful at anything but playing rich beautiful girls and then their careers mercifully ended. Bergen got a reprieve by playing caricatures of herself and then going full on into comedy.

by Anonymousreply 4111/22/2020

[quote]Artsy folkies, typified by Janis Ian, wore black with big hoop earrings.

The Villager/Ladybug girls are the girls she sang about in "At Seventeen."

by Anonymousreply 4211/22/2020

The brother and Brenda showed the prevailing expectations at the time. He was a knucklehead and was expected to take over the family business. She was highly intelligent and was expected to marry well and that was it.

by Anonymousreply 4311/22/2020

I meant "heathered wools"--colors that were muted or interwoven with gray.

by Anonymousreply 4411/22/2020

The MAD magazine parody is still memorable. The Richard Benjamin character was the "head shusher" at the NY Public Library. Roth went through different phases and the early part of his career included lampooning of Jewish sterotypes that was probably less self-hate than a literary version of Borscht Belt humor.

by Anonymousreply 4511/22/2020

[quote]The MAD magazine parody is still memorable.

Funny they parodied such adult movies.

by Anonymousreply 4611/22/2020

Not so funny.

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by Anonymousreply 4711/22/2020
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by Anonymousreply 4811/22/2020

funny he leaves her in Boston at Harvard and Harvard was the location for her next movie.

by Anonymousreply 4911/22/2020

Hmmm...they didn't change Harvard.

by Anonymousreply 5011/22/2020

[quote] Did the film actually change its setting to Bronx and Westchester instead of the novella's Newark and West Orange, NJ? I'm not remembering that.

The book was actually set in Newark and Short Hills, NJ, not West Orange.

The movie changed it to the Bronx and Westchester--perhaps they thought it was easier for audiences to grasp as they were more familiar with the latter locations. Or it may just have been a filming thing.

Not sure if they say "Scarsdale" in the movie, but it was the affluent Jewish Westchester suburb of that era (home of Linda Eastman McCartney)

There is a ten year gap between when the book came out (1959) and the movie (1969) so it's surprising that a fairly faithful adaptation worked so well--I was not alive then, but I assume a lot changed given the changes in society during the 1960s as well as the migration of Jewish families from places like the Bronx and Newark to the suburbs. (In 1959, they would have been one of many, in 1969, they would have been the poor or old people who were left behind.)

Roth got a lot of grief for his gentle mocking of his fellow Jews and their pretentions as they moved up the socioeconomic ladder and assimilated. At some point in the 80s or 90s he wrote a piece where he said that, in retrospect, it was understandable that many people did not want to see anything negative about the community just 14 years after the Holocaust, it was probably too soon.

It's funny for me to realize that my grandmother, who is now 82, is the same age as the Brenda in the book.

That said, both she and my mother have noted that the people in Roth's books are far more familiar and real to them than the people in any Woody Allen movie or Mrs. Maisel.

by Anonymousreply 5111/22/2020

The only scenes that stick with me are the kid in the library with the art books and Richard Benjamin's character asking of McGraw, "What's this?" about a roof fill of old furniture stuck away behind the eaves..."How old?"

"From when we were poor."

by Anonymousreply 5211/22/2020

When I was a little gayling in London in the 60s, my fave book was "Babar Goes To America" - I remember he spends a weekend with his friends who live in Scarsdale...plays baseball with their kids.

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by Anonymousreply 5311/22/2020

He also visited Harvard.

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by Anonymousreply 5411/22/2020

Richard Benjamin went on to direct the wonderful "My Favorite Year".

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by Anonymousreply 5511/22/2020

^ I hated that .Nothing less funny than "drunk" humor.

by Anonymousreply 5611/22/2020

My Favorite Year truly does have horrible stereotypes of Jews. I'm looking at you, Lainie Kazan.

by Anonymousreply 5711/22/2020

Like the good old days discussing obscure-ish movies like this.

by Anonymousreply 5811/22/2020

My Favorite Year was a comedy, R57. It was supposed to, and was, over the top.

"Not sure if they say "Scarsdale" in the movie, but it was the affluent Jewish Westchester suburb of that era (home of Linda Eastman McCartney)"

They didn't. I recognized some of the locations, like the movie theaters in White Plains. In fact, I saw Goodbye Columbus at Loews White Plains around the corner. Loews closed in the early 1970s and the block was eventually town down and became the location of the Galleria Mall.

There are several parts of Scarsdale,in the 60s not all of it was affluent, the areas west of the Post Road were where the mansions were. As for them, Linda Eastman's theatrical agents family hardly made a buzz when she became famous for marrying a Beatle in 1969. What was far more impressive in 69-70 was a rich lunatic hippie named Brody who was throwing thousand of dollars of cash out the window. I couldn't get a ride in time to go over there...he somehow got a gig on the Ed Sullivan Show strumming a guitar because of it.

by Anonymousreply 5911/22/2020

What about New Rochelle? (Roche-elle might still be a banned word)

by Anonymousreply 6011/22/2020

New Rochelle used to be almost totally Jewish because other towns (like Scarsdale) were restricted until the 1940s, maybe after the war. While Jews are still there, blacks with money have moved in over the past couple of decades. What I've seen of New Rochelle is nice, but there was so much construction, and repairing of the Boston Post Road last time, I stay clear.

by Anonymousreply 6111/22/2020

Orthodox Jews have also moved into the nicer areas of New Rochelle because they need not worry about public schools

by Anonymousreply 6211/22/2020

New Rochelle was not predominantly Jewish when we lived there.

by Anonymousreply 6311/22/2020

Found something on Brody. It's hard to believe but true.

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by Anonymousreply 6411/22/2020

GC was the first R rated movie I saw. I fell madly in love with Ali MacGraw. I just loved her look. When she was nominated for Best Actress for "Love Story" I held that up to my mother (who was not a fan of her work) as proof that she was a good actress. She just said "She probably crocheted a bunch of hats for the Academy". <

Never one to give an inch, my mother.

Of course she was right but the AAs were a big deal in my young gay life. As I got older I realized they had absolutely nothing to do with actual talent. Never more clearly displayed than Ali's nomination.

I also absolutely love the theme song. That is one catchy little ditty.

by Anonymousreply 6511/24/2020

[quote]My Favorite Year truly does have horrible stereotypes of Jews. I'm looking at you, Lainie Kazan.

Yeah, well I was a movie theater manager on Long Island and played "My Favorite Year" and heard show after show Kazan getting roars. People I know still quote her.

by Anonymousreply 6611/24/2020

R61 Are you trying to say Rob and Laura Petrie were Jewish?

by Anonymousreply 6711/24/2020

r67 No, but Carl Reiner (on whom the character was based, and who starred in the pilot) certainly was.

by Anonymousreply 6811/24/2020


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