Goodbye, Columbus (1969)

105 mins | Comedy-drama | 3 April 1969

Director:

Larry Peerce

Writer:

Arnold Schulman

Producer:

Stanley R. Jaffe

Cinematographer:

Gerald Hirschfeld

Editor:

Ralph Rosenblum

Production Designer:

Manny Gerard

Production Company:

Willow Tree Productions
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HISTORY

The 29 Jan 1968 DV announced that Paramount Pictures would finance and release Goodbye, Columbus, a film adaptation of Philip Roth’s novella that won the 1960 National Book Award for Fiction. First-time movie producer Stanley R. Jaffe told the 6 Oct 1968 LAT that when he discovered that the book, despite fifteen editions over the previous ten years, had never been optioned for film, he “moved quickly,” hired Arnold Schulman to write a screenplay, and made a deal with Paramount.
       Cameras were set to roll on 17 Jun 1968, according to the 7 Jun 1968 DV, but production was pushed back to 8 Jul 1968, when principal photography began at a $175,000 Colonial mansion in suburban Purchase, NY, a hamlet in the Westchester County town of Harrison, the 12 Jul 1968 DV noted. Westchester stood in for the upper-middle-class milieu of the “Patimkin” family. The rest of the film was shot in New York City.
       Many pictures were currently being shot on the streets of New York, according to the 22 May 1968 Var. When producers avoided the city because of labor problems, Mayor John V. Lindsay in 1967 worked out a formula with over a dozen movie industry unions to make filmmaking more reliable and affordable. Producer Jaffe and director Larry Peerce originally wanted to shoot Goodbye, Columbus in Philip Roth’s hometown of Newark, NJ, where the novel was set, but Newark’s airport created a constant noise problem. During filming, New York locations provided local newspapers with plenty of color. During the fifth week of the eight-week shoot, the 15 Aug 1968 NYT ... More Less

The 29 Jan 1968 DV announced that Paramount Pictures would finance and release Goodbye, Columbus, a film adaptation of Philip Roth’s novella that won the 1960 National Book Award for Fiction. First-time movie producer Stanley R. Jaffe told the 6 Oct 1968 LAT that when he discovered that the book, despite fifteen editions over the previous ten years, had never been optioned for film, he “moved quickly,” hired Arnold Schulman to write a screenplay, and made a deal with Paramount.
       Cameras were set to roll on 17 Jun 1968, according to the 7 Jun 1968 DV, but production was pushed back to 8 Jul 1968, when principal photography began at a $175,000 Colonial mansion in suburban Purchase, NY, a hamlet in the Westchester County town of Harrison, the 12 Jul 1968 DV noted. Westchester stood in for the upper-middle-class milieu of the “Patimkin” family. The rest of the film was shot in New York City.
       Many pictures were currently being shot on the streets of New York, according to the 22 May 1968 Var. When producers avoided the city because of labor problems, Mayor John V. Lindsay in 1967 worked out a formula with over a dozen movie industry unions to make filmmaking more reliable and affordable. Producer Jaffe and director Larry Peerce originally wanted to shoot Goodbye, Columbus in Philip Roth’s hometown of Newark, NJ, where the novel was set, but Newark’s airport created a constant noise problem. During filming, New York locations provided local newspapers with plenty of color. During the fifth week of the eight-week shoot, the 15 Aug 1968 NYT chronicled a visit to the garishly decorated grand ballroom of the Hotel Delmonico at 502 Park Avenue and Fifty-Ninth Street (converted decades later to the Trump Park Avenue), where a Patimkin wedding and reception scene was filmed. Opera star Jan Peerce, the director’s father, portrayed a Patimkin relative, and his voice coach and accompanist, cantor David Benedict, played the wedding’s officiating rabbi; along with the primary characters, sixty costumed extras were used in a scene in which ravenous guests mobbed the wedding buffet table. The “Patimkin Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks” factory scenes were shot at the Webster Plumbing Supply Warehouse on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. The 6 Oct 1968 LAT added that other locations included the Hotel Earle at 103 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village (now the Washington Square Hotel), the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 Eighth Avenue, the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel at 768 Fifth Avenue, and the old Biograph Studios at 807 E. 175th Street in the Bronx, where interiors were filmed. The 8 Sep 1968 NYT visited the production again during a pivotal scene between “Neil Klugman” (Richard Benjamin) and “Brenda Patimkin” (Ali MacGraw) at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-Ninth Street. As cameras rolled, MacGraw exited the Squibb Building at 745 Fifth Avenue, rushed across the street among a throng of real New York pedestrians mixed with extras, and met Benjamin beneath an equestrian statue of Civil War General William T. Sherman in the Grand Army Plaza. For a moment, director Peerce lost sight of MacGraw in the crowd.
       Besides being Philip Roth’s first novel, Goodbye, Columbus was the first film version of any of his works. Larry Peerce stressed during a NYT interview that although Roth was commonly identified in the media as “a Jewish writer,” and the story took place “in a Jewish world,” the film was really about America’s “nouveau riche,” one or two generations removed from their immigrant forebears. “No one in the movie has a Yiddish accent,” producer Jaffe added. Both men wanted authenticity, but some critics wondered why they chose Ali MacGraw, a non-Jewish actress, to portray the “Jewish princess” at the heart of the story. Peerce answered: “American Jews are like the American-Irish or American-Italians; their great desire….is to become part of [the American middle-class]. Ali’s looks represent the ideal they’re aiming at.” He added that sexual mores had changed considerably in the ten years since the novel was published, and the idea of a woman being fitted with a diaphragm, treated so dramatically in the book, had become quaint, because the birth control pill had supplanted it. However, screenwriter Arnold Schulman wanted to keep the diaphragm scene in the film, so he had Brenda explain to Neil that she was allergic to the pill.
       The 20 Aug 1968 DV noted that Peerce recently completed filming.
       Goodbye, Columbus marked Broadway and television actor Richard Benjamin’s first feature film and fashion model Ali MacGraw’s first starring role.
       The film was scheduled to open at two New York theaters, Elson’s Forum and Loew’s Tower East, on 19 Mar 1969, the 29 Jan 1969 Variety announced, but the date was pushed back to 3 Apr 1969, coinciding with a one-theater opening in Los Angeles, CA. The film benefited from the huge success and controversy of Philip Roth’s then current novel, Portnoy’s Complaint (New York, 1969). Reviews for the film were generally positive, but with reservations. In the 6 Apr 1969 LAT, Charles Champlin called Goodbye, Columbus “ruthlessly honest, and unsparing in its look at those who have finished in (and out) of the money,” but added that some of the authenticity “felt uncomfortably like anti-Semitism.” Vincent Canby, in his 4 Apr 1969 NYT review, praised the “very funny, immensely appealing movie of surburban romance,” but “resent[ed] the really vulgar manners that Mr. Peerce allows his middle-class Jews…not because of any particular bias, but because it is gross moviemaking.”
       Budgeted at under $2 million, the film grossed over $1 million in its first seventeen weeks at the Forum and Tower East theaters alone. Charles G. Bluhdorn, board chairman of Gulf + Western Industries, which owned Paramount at the time, bragged to shareholders that the then-unknown Ali MacGraw, who had since become a sensation, cost the studio only $20,000 for her role in Goodbye, Columbus, but helped fuel its $10 million gross by the end of the year, according to the 10 Dec 1969 Var. A tabulation of U.S. and Canadian film rentals that ran in the 7 Jan 1970 Var revealed that Goodbye, Columbus, with a $10.5 million box office, was the ninth best-selling film of 1969.
       Arnold Schulman received the film’s sole Academy Award nomination for Writing (Screenplay—based on material from another medium). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Jun 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1968
p. 7.
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1968
p. 12.
Daily Variety
23 Aug 1968
p. 17.
Daily Variety
23 Nov 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Dec 1968
p. 23.
Daily Variety
18 Mar 1969
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
6 Oct 1968
Section S, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
29 Mar 1969
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
6 Apr 1969
Section P, p. 1.
New York Times
15 Aug 1968
p. 39.
New York Times
8 Sep 1968
Section D, p. 18.
New York Times
17 Dec 1968
p. 53.
New York Times
4 Apr 1969
p. 43.
New York Times
13 Apr 1969
Section D, p. 1.
Variety
22 May 1968
p. 20.
Variety
29 Jan 1969
p. 7.
Variety
19 Mar 1969
p. 23.
Variety
6 Aug 1969
p. 26.
Variety
10 Dec 1969
p. 3.
Variety
7 Jan 1970
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Stanley R. Jaffe Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Ward des
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
SOURCES
LITERARY
Inspired by the short story "Goodbye, Columbus" by Philip Roth in his Goodbye, Columbus, and Five Short Stories (Boston, 1959).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Goodbye Columbus," words and music by The Association (Jim Yester), sung by The Association
"So Kind To Me (Brenda's Theme)," words and music by The Association, sung by The Association
"It's Gotta Be Real," words and music by The Association, sung by The Association
+
SONGS
"Goodbye Columbus," words and music by The Association (Jim Yester), sung by The Association
"So Kind To Me (Brenda's Theme)," words and music by The Association, sung by The Association
"It's Gotta Be Real," words and music by The Association, sung by The Association
"How Will I Know You?," music by Charles Fox. "Patricia," music by Pérez Prado
"I Remember You," music by Victor Schertzinger, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
"Hava Nagila," traditional
"Moon River," music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
+
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 April 1969
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 3 April 1969
Production Date:
8 July--mid August 1968
Copyright Claimant:
Willow Tree Productions
Copyright Date:
19 March 1969
Copyright Number:
LP36734
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
105
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Recently discharged from the Army, and with no immediate plans for his future, college dropout Neil Klugman has moved into his Aunt Gladys' Bronx apartment and taken a job in the local library. Having been invited by his cousin Doris to spend a day at the country club to which she belongs, Neil is attracted to a vacationing Radcliffe student, Brenda Patimkin, the daughter of a nouveau riche Jewish businessman. Despite his disdain for Brenda's affluent Westchester County way of life, Neil determinedly starts dating her. Mrs. Patimkin becomes concerned about Neil's lack of ambition and concludes that he is unworthy of her daughter, but Mr. Patimkin assures his wife that Brenda will soon tire of the romance. Instead, as her summer vacation nears its end, Brenda invites Neil to spend his 2-week vacation at her home, and each night when the rest of the family is asleep Neil and Brenda make love in her room. Neil discovers that Brenda is not taking birth control pills because they make her sick, and he insists that she get fitted for a diaphragm. On the night before Brenda's return to school, her brother Ron marries his girl friend, whom he met while he was an Ohio State basketball star in Columbus. At the lavish wedding reception, a somewhat inebriated Mr. Patimkin tells Brenda how much he loves her and how much faith he has in her strong moral convictions. Once back at Radcliffe, Brenda writes to Neil and asks him to join her in Boston for a long weekend. In the sleazy hotel room where they check in as husband and wife, Brenda tells Neil that her mother found the diaphragm ... +


Recently discharged from the Army, and with no immediate plans for his future, college dropout Neil Klugman has moved into his Aunt Gladys' Bronx apartment and taken a job in the local library. Having been invited by his cousin Doris to spend a day at the country club to which she belongs, Neil is attracted to a vacationing Radcliffe student, Brenda Patimkin, the daughter of a nouveau riche Jewish businessman. Despite his disdain for Brenda's affluent Westchester County way of life, Neil determinedly starts dating her. Mrs. Patimkin becomes concerned about Neil's lack of ambition and concludes that he is unworthy of her daughter, but Mr. Patimkin assures his wife that Brenda will soon tire of the romance. Instead, as her summer vacation nears its end, Brenda invites Neil to spend his 2-week vacation at her home, and each night when the rest of the family is asleep Neil and Brenda make love in her room. Neil discovers that Brenda is not taking birth control pills because they make her sick, and he insists that she get fitted for a diaphragm. On the night before Brenda's return to school, her brother Ron marries his girl friend, whom he met while he was an Ohio State basketball star in Columbus. At the lavish wedding reception, a somewhat inebriated Mr. Patimkin tells Brenda how much he loves her and how much faith he has in her strong moral convictions. Once back at Radcliffe, Brenda writes to Neil and asks him to join her in Boston for a long weekend. In the sleazy hotel room where they check in as husband and wife, Brenda tells Neil that her mother found the diaphragm in her room, shows him reproachful letters from her parents, and tells him that she can't invite him to her home again. Concluding that Brenda's guilt feelings about their affair subconsciously led her to leave the diaphragm where her mother would inevitably find it, Neil accuses Brenda of posing as someone intellectually and morally free while, in reality, she is essentially the model Jewish daughter her parents want. Disillusioned, and with nothing left to say, Neil picks up his suitcase and walks out into the street. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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