Goodbye, Columbus

I tried to get some work done, but then Best Buy sent me a coupon, and so I had to race over there to buy the Kendrick Lamar CD. It was already on sale at five dollars off, and I got another five dollars off from the coupon, so I didn’t mind paying for it at all. I ate my lunch and got to work, getting very tired. I listened to the last few innings of the A’s game in Anaheim. From a 1-1 tie, they managed some runs to win the game. I watched the movie “Goodbye, Columbus.” Since it was based on a story by Philip Roth, you’d expect a Jewish character. Richard Benjamin is a librarian named Neil Klugman, who works in the Bronx. He meets Ali MacGraw, a spoiled Jewish princess. It feels like we’re getting a variation of “The Graduate,” with the swimming pool and the music by The Association instead of Simon and Garfunkel. Ali is Brenda, and she gives a performance similar to what we would see in “Love Story.” There was the same flirting and foolish attempts to be charming. Neil has an interesting moment in his job, as he meets a kid who spends his days looking through a book of Gaugin paintings. I thought it was hilarious that his job was being at the circulation desk. It seemed that he should have had credentials for that position, however. Brenda had contact lenses, and she was going to college at Radcliffe. I could imagine that she was studying useless subjects. Neil pursues her aggressively at first, going out to the tennis court where she’s playing. I didn’t understand how she came to like him, because he was from a different world. He also seemed awkward and uncomfortable around everyone. Jack Klugman was Ben, one of Brenda’s disapproving parents. I found it hard to believe that he was her father. He did something with a bottle of salad dressing that made me wince. I did like the scene where Neil meets Ben at his workplace. There are a lot of shots of people eating, and everyone seems to have a large appetite except for Neil. I liked the ping pong scene. The sister was a brat. We see on the marquees of two theaters the titles “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Odd Couple.” New York seemed like an almost friendly place, unlike what we saw in “Midnight Cowboy.” I didn’t think that this was any kind of a brilliant movie, but I did like it more than “Portnoy’s Complaint.” The hungry people at the wedding reception made me think of Fellini. The characters talk about premarital sex and birth control, although not in great detail. The relationship turns on an issue of contraception, which was unusual for 1969. I don’t know what audience reaction was like at the time. The last scene was a question of female behavior. It’s like leaving your diary in your room. Do you secretly want it to be discovered? If Philip Roth is the source, I would not be surprised if it ended unhappily. The turn of events came with two letters in the mail, reminded me of how long ago this all was. Brenda never answered the question of whether she thought she did anything wrong. You can’t take seriously anyone who is still going to college, I think. Ali MacGraw would go on to bad acting performances in other movies. She established some screen presence, and this was her first movie. I thought of how only a few years separated “Goodbye, Columbus” and “Cousin, Cousine,” but they seemed like they were from totally different eras. I could have seen Lesley Ann Warren in the role of Brenda, or Natalie Wood. Ali MacGraw’s mother was Jewish, so I guess she has some credibility in this role, although I couldn’t believe that she would go on to get an Oscar nomination for “Love Story.” She was supposedly the top female box office star in the world in 1972. According to her autobiography, she had struggles with alcohol and sex addiction. “Goodbye, Columbus” was a financial success. Roger Ebert gave it a good review, although he had reservations about the wedding scene and the setting of characters from 1954 into 1969. It was kind of funny that Richard Benjamin would also be in “Portnoy’s Complaint.” I don’t think that a double feature of “Goodbye, Columbus” and “Portnoy’s Complaint” would be too enjoyable. I thought “Goodbye, Columbus” was OK, but it’s a picture that’s faded from our memories while we still go back to “The Graduate.” The director Larry Peerce went on to make movies like “Ash Wednesday,” “The Other Side of the Mountain,” and “Two-Minute Warning.” The screenwriter Arnold Schulman was nominated for an Oscar. His later credits included “Funny Lady,” “Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood,” “A Chorus Line,” and “Tucker: The Man and His Dream.” I fell asleep for a while and awoke to see Bruce Willis on the Letterman show. He brought back the look he had in 1985, when he first appeared on the show. It looked like he was wearing the same clothes as back then. He made some amusing appearances over the years. I briefly saw Courtney Cox on the James Corden show. I don’t think I like the idea of bringing out all the guests to the couch at once. Some guests are more interesting than others, and I like the individual attention they get. I wouldn’t have liked seeing someone next to Bruce Willis last night. I think Willis has done too many hair jokes. I watched a bit of The Avengers before I drifted off to sleep again. I really hated to hear the morning news about Barry Bonds. Some of the people who died on April 23 include William Shakespeare (1616), Buster Crabbe (1983), Harold Arlen (1986), Otto Preminger (1986), Paulette Goddard (1990), Johnny Thunders (1991), Cesar Chavez (1993), and Howard Cosell (1995). Today is a birthday for George Lopez (54), Valerie Bertinelli (55), Michael Moore (61), Joyce DeWitt (66), and Lee Majors (76). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for April 23, the James Cagney film “The Public Enemy” was released in 1931. In 1961, Judy Garland made a concert appearance at Carnegie Hall, described as “the greatest night in show business history.” In 1977, Thelma Houston was Number One on the singles chart with “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

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