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Friday Film Review: Never Say Goodbye

Never Say Goodbye (1946)
Genre: Romantic Comedy with screwball elements
Grade: B

I hadn’t planned on doing a review of this movie just yet but when I saw it was being shown on TCM on December 17th, I jumped. Why? Well, it’s another movie which hasn’t been released on DVD yet and the only VHS copies are used.

Artist Phil Gayley (Errol Flynn when he still had most of his good looks) and Ellen Gayley (Eleanor Parker who’s best known as the Baroness in “The Sound of Music”) got a divorce almost 6 months ago but neither one’s heart was really in it. Ellen sort of got “but”ed into it, by her interfering mother, and both are having second thoughts. Another person who wants them back together is their 7 year old daughter Phillippa “Flip” (wonderfully played by child actress Patti Brady). But it seems every time Phil tries to win Ellen back, his current model and girlfriend Nancy (Peggy Knudsen, a shapely blonde with a hard look) shows up to ruin things.

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Phil can’t even go play Santa Claus for Flip without his ex-mother in law shoving another man at Ellen. Then Fenwick Lonkowski (Forrest Tucker, probably best know for his work on F-Troop) shows up. Who’s he? The Marine Flip’s been writing to in the Pacific. Only problem is she sent her mother’s picture (nothing’s too good for the Marines) and now he’s in town on leave. Will “Wickie” make a play for Ellen too or will he help this still in love couple get back together again?

As dashing and swashbuckling as Errol Flynn was, he could play contemporary comedy fairly well too. And here he also gets to display a gift for physical comedy as he outwits Ellen’s “stick in the mud” lawyer beau as Santa Claus and tries to match Fenwick in calisthenics. He and Eleanor Parker also play off their restaurateur friend Luigi (the marvelous S.Z. Sakall) throughout the film as he attempts to aid Cupid but usually ends up muddling things even worse.

Eleanor Parker is luminous on her own and got fitted out beautifully by the wardrobe staff at Warner Brothers. She manages to pull off still being in love with her ex-husband yet not taking much crap off him either. Another actress I love to see in this film is the excellent Hattie McDaniel in a bit part which I wish had been a bit bigger. Yeah, she’s a nursemaid again but has few zinger lines and manages to avoid allowing her character to look like a caricature.

But the best relationship in the movie is between Flip and her father. Usually child actors of this era spoke in a sing-song manner which drives me nuts. Flip does this a little but it seems like it’s more her natural speech than anything artificial. I love the lighthearted bantering between father and daughter and how Phil turns everything into something special for his little girl. Some will complain that their interaction is too saccharine or that Flip speaks in too worldly-wise a manner but for me, the movie has always struck just the right spot.

Watch for Flynn’s wonderful imitation of Bogie (complete with Humphrey Bogart actually voicing the scene) and enjoy him in a genre that I wish he’d been allowed to do more often. Savor one of his last films in which he still has his looks. Listen to the “wittier than it initially appears” script and check out all the secondary actors and actresses doing a fine backup job. Meanwhile, I’ll hope that somebody finally releases this one on DVD.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

11 Comments

  1. Moth
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 04:59:53

    Mmmm. Erroyl Flynn.

    He was a schmuck and a booser and a bit of a cad, but when he had it, boy he had it.

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 06:44:23

    Yes he did. About half-way through watching the movie the other day, it hit me that 10 years after it was made, he might have been looking to date the actress who was playing his daughter. Yech…

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  3. Naomi Brooks
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 09:32:16

    Being a Flynn-maniac, I had the pleasure of seeing this one a few months back when it last played on TCM. It’s one of his very few romantic comedies, and he’s so very talented as a comedic actor. Four’s a Crowd is another one of them, and is a bit more slapstick silly.

    The best one he’s done in my opinion is “Footsteps in the Dark” where he plays a married man who tries to keep his mystery writing and detective work a secret from his wife.

    All of these were done while he was still very easy on the eyes. He’s really one of the most underrated actors of his time. Stupid typecasting. :(

    ReplyReply

  4. Claudia Dain
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 12:17:03

    I am a huge fan of classic movies and yet this is one I’ve not only never seen, but never even heard of! I’m going to be watching for it now. It sounds delightful.

    ReplyReply

  5. Kate Pearce
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 15:27:05

    You had me at Errol Flynn The original bad boy. Yum.

    ReplyReply

  6. Jayne
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 19:24:49

    @Naomi Brooks:

    It's one of his very few romantic comedies, and he's so very talented as a comedic actor. Four's a Crowd is another one of them, and is a bit more slapstick silly.

    I love “Four’s a Crowd” and plan to eventually do a review of it too. TCM just released it as a DVD which I have on order.

    The best one he's done in my opinion is “Footsteps in the Dark” where he plays a married man who tries to keep his mystery writing and detective work a secret from his wife.

    I’ve always wanted to see this one and – yippee – it’s being shown, also on TCM, soon.

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  7. Jayne
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 19:30:45

    @Claudia Dain: TCM is playing a lot of his movies in the next two months. Look towards the upper right of the screen page at TCM under “Upcoming Movies” and click “more” to see titles and times.

    ReplyReply

  8. Jayne
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 19:35:11

    @Kate Pearce: And here he’s still looking “yummy.”

    ReplyReply

  9. Angelia Sparrow
    Dec 11, 2009 @ 20:11:38

    I have a bunch on the TiVO, including this one. At the moment, I’m halfway through THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON.

    Naomi and I are big Flynn fans. We find him…inspiring. I also named him as one of five people I’d like to have with me in a zombie apocalypse. Because the man HAS killed headhunting cannibals before. (Stood trial for murder at the age of 20, was acquitted on self-defense)

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  10. Janice Smith
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 23:11:25

    I’m watching the movie right now. I think the little girl is a good actress, and I was looking her up on the Internet to find out her name and to see what other films she had done, and came across your review. From the title, I didn’t know it was a Christmas movie, but Robert Osborne said it was, so I’m watching it. Thanks for the tidbit on Eleanor Parker – I wouldn’t have recognized her as the Baroness on the Sound of Music!

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  11. Jayne
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 07:56:42

    I looked her up too to see what I could find out about her … which is not much. Looks like she did a few movies then hung it up.

    ReplyReply

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