Goodbye Again, one of the SEVEN movies directed by Michael Curtiz Warner Bros. released in 1933, runs at such a speed that would even leave His Girl Friday catching its breath. The film is essentially a stage play with all the salacious plot twists you expect from a Pre-Code movie.
Goodbye Again is based on a play by George Haight and Allan Scott, with a screenplay by Ben Markson (Gold Diggers of 1933). Warren William stars as Kenneth Bixby, an author who specializes in romance novels. During a tour stop, his ex-sweetheart Julie Wilson (Genevieve Tobin, The Petrified Forest) tracks him down and hopes to reignite their love affair – even though she’s married and Bixby has totally forgotten about her! Still, he falls for her charms and hopes it’s just a one-night stand. On the next stop on the tour though, Julie, her husband (Hugh Hubert) and her family (Wallace Ford and Helen Chandler) stay on his tracks. Through all this mess, his secretary Anne Rogers (Joan Blondell – were you expecting someone else?) tries to keep Bixby’s life in order while secretly pining for him.
There are so many plot points in this film that would just be impossible in movies the next year. At one point, Bixby and Anne try to get Julie away by claiming he has a secret love child – who happens to be just a random kid they see. But the married woman is so desperate to be with a man not her husband that she doesn’t care! The 66-minute movie even comes to a climax with a faux divorce trial in Bixby’s hotel room.
What really sets Curtiz’s Pre-Code films apart from those by other directors is that he keeps a frenetic pace going, and makes it all feel calculated. Here, Curtiz has stripped the film of any tangents that could make the film longer, keeping only the bare essentials. We don’t need long-winded speeches, when jokes delivered at a mile-a-minute will get the story even quicker.
In Goodbye Again, the story is so tight that it is practically told in only three settings – the first hotel room, the train and the second hotel room. It could make the film stagey, but Curtiz keeps the dialogue and his actors moving around. He makes the most of the tight spaces and claustrophobic sets.
It’s hard to sum out how much fun Goodbye Again really is. Sometimes, we focus too much on the sexy elements of Pre-Code films and forget just how well made and entertaining they are. It takes a genius to make a 66-minute movie feel like a full, complete story instead of a tossed-together, hap-hazard B-movie.
The best Pre-Codes are the great for the same reason other movies are – the stories are engaging, the performances are perfect and the directing is on point. Goodbye Again hits all those marks.
Unfortunately, there are no extras on the disc.
Thanks again to Warner Archive for providing this DVD to review!