Goodbye, Columbus (1969)

Goodbye, Columbus (1969)

“If I let you kiss me, would you stop being so nasty?”

When a library clerk (Richard Benjamin) falls in love with the pampered daughter (Ali MacGraw) of a plumbing store owner (Jack Klugman), their romance is tested by class differences.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ali MacGraw Films
  • Cross-Class Romance
  • Richard Benjamin Films

Ali MacGraw made her starring debut in this well-received adaptation of Phillip Roth’s novella of the same name (his first published work). Unfortunately, those unfamiliar with Roth and/or this book (like me) may struggle to understand what was so appealing to audiences at the time about this tale, other than perhaps the frank depiction of an inter-class romance between individuals from two socio-economically diverse mid-century Jewish households.

We see plenty of romantic montage sequences set to a jazzy score; watch MacGraw’s family casually mistreating their Black housemaid (Royce Wallace):

… see MacGraw’s younger sister Julie (Lori Shell) spoiled like crazy; observe how odd MacGraw’s soon-to-be-married brother Ron (Michael Meyers) is:

… and get just a few glimpses of Benjamin’s chaotic lower-class life with his Aunt Gladys (Sylvia Strause). There’s not much else to it. This one is only must-see for fans of the book who are curious to see its (apparently quite faithful) transfer to the big screen.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine cinematography

Must See?
No; skip this one.


One thought on “Goodbye, Columbus (1969)

  1. (Rewatch 12/26/20.) A once-must, as a representative film of the ’60s.

    ‘GC’ is a well-observed example of culture / class-divide and a more-honest depiction of a relationship than, say, MacGraw’s lamentable follow-up ‘Love Story’. (‘GC’ also contains her most natural performance.) The dialogue is consistently sharp and the performances are nicely delineated, thanks to Larry Peerce’s direction.

    I wouldn’t say that the film is meant to be “appealing” as much as accurate. I recall, when I saw this film on its release, being somewhat stunned by the harshness of the film’s final confrontation scene. Seeing it again, it still holds power.

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