Bye Bye Braverman (1968)

Bye Bye Braverman (1968)

“Forty-one year old Leslie… Not a perfect person, but he had integrity. He didn’t ask for it, he didn’t want it, but he had it — the way some people have B.O.”

Four Jewish intellectuals (George Segal, Jack Warden, Joseph Wiseman, and Sorrell Booke) drive across New York City searching for the funeral of their friend, Leslie Braverman.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Black Comedy
  • Death and Dying
  • George Segal Films
  • Jessica Walter Films
  • Jews
  • New York City
  • Sidney Lumet Films

Peary gives a reasonably positive review of this Sidney Lumet film, praising its “comic tone”, occasional “hilarious moments”, and “witty performances”. At the same time, he concedes that “you may tune out on these men” — and, indeed, I found it difficult to care about any of the insufferable characters here (men or women), who screech and kvetch ad infinitum. The most irritating character is Booke’s Holly Levine (a procrastinating writer who is pathologically attached to his new red VW bug):

but the other actors — while turning in decent performances, especially Segal — don’t fare much better.

Though it’s beloved by a handful of fans who are clamoring for its release onto DVD, this film is clearly not for all tastes, and wasn’t for mine.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some interesting cinema verite shots of New York streets

Must See?


2 thoughts on “Bye Bye Braverman (1968)

  1. First viewing. A must MISS! Oy vey, this is tiresome!

    Director Lumet – the great Lumet – has rarely gone wrong when choosing a dramatic script. But he has tried to…branch out…with other genres, most notoriously with ‘The Wiz’ and this pointless piece – containing the type of banter people might possibly exchange in real life, but which should never have been allowed to inhabit the big screen.

    Some might say, “Oh, you need to be Jewish to ‘get’ it.” Unh-uh. You just need to be able to recognize bad writing.

    Nobody comes off well in this very l-o-n-g 94 min. movie. Collectively (with the valiant exception of Wiseman, who manages some nuance), the cast over-compensates for the script’s weaknesses. Segal’s mind-numbing rant near the end in a cemetery stands out as a soporific. But, yes, the one saddled with the worst of it is Sorrell Booke – most ‘notably’, the hoary humor of a) writer cleaning his desk while waiting for ‘inspiration’; b) parallel parking gone awry; c) pretending to know karate.

    At three points in the film, even Lumet seems bored enough to resort to extended, panegyric panoramas of his beloved New York City.

    ‘Bye Bye’, indeed!

  2. This is truly a tedious movie. I must admit I’m hard-pressed to understand why it has any following at all.

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