Kenneth Bixby (Warren William) is a sensation of the American literary world, having written a number of best-selling, well-received novels. By his side through it all is Anne Rogers (Joan Blondell), his faithful secretary.
While on a lecture tour, Kenneth reconnects with Julie Wilson (Genevieve Tobin), a girlfriend from his past. Julie believes she inspired the central character of Kenneth’s latest novel, and she wants to reignite their romance.
There’s just one small problem: Julie is married! And her husband, Harvey (Hugh Herbert), hates Kenneth’s guts. Julie has never stopped talking about Kenneth, and her husband would be happy to go the rest of his life never having to hear a word about the writer again.
While Julie attempts to woo Kenneth back into a relationship with her (and he attempts to push her away), Anne does her best to keep the fire of Harvey’s hatred for Kenneth under control.
Michael Curtiz directs 1933’s Goodbye Again. The film was written by Ben Markson, based on a play by Allan Scott and George Haight.
Such a great cast appears in Goodbye Again. The three central characters are portrayed by three of my pre-code favorites: Warren William, Joan Blondell and Genevieve Tobin. Their performances are fantastic, as expected. Hugh Herbert is also a delight as Julie’s grumpy husband.
The story has no terribly unexpected moments or elements, but it’s still a heck of a lot of fun to watch, thanks in part to the performances and also thanks to the snappy script.
The characters are all very nicely-written. I particularly adore Joan Blondell’s Anne. She’s very honest, outspoken, and full of sass. She’s not afraid to speak her mind to Kenneth, and she’s got some great dialogue. (The scene in which Kenneth asks her to take dictation of a letter cancelling a bookstore appearance, and she reads it back blaming the cancellation on his relationship with Julie, is hilarious.)
Warren William’s character is very funny, too. Kenneth is a far cry from the smarmier characters I know William for, though he’s still a bit sleazy here. Kenneth bumbles his way through the whole scenario, and rather than fixing the problem with Julie only creates a bigger mess for himself. He promises Anne that he acts like a “beast” around Julie, but instead of pushing her away, his “horrible” behavior (which isn’t actually horrible at all) only makes her like him more. It’s a great set-up for comedy.
Another aspect of the script I enjoyed was the portrayal of the frenzy over Kenneth’s books. The obsession personified in the character of Julie, who is utterly convinced (and desperately hopes) that Kenneth’s newest heroine is another version of herself.
There is an early scene in a bookshop, in which readers flood the counter asking for various Bixby titles. Even the hotel workers are excited to be in Kenneth’s presence, and ask for autographs! It’s made very clear what type of author Kenneth is, and the caliber of his popularity.
Goodbye Again is a film with a fast pace, a very good script, and highly energetic performances. This is one of the best pre-code discoveries I’ve made in a long time! The score: 5/5!