Thursday, April 24, 2014

Case Study No. 1388: Neil Klugman

Goodbye Columbus - Trailer (Klara Tavakoli)
The only trailer for this movie there is :) - A trailer I made for the film from 1969, starring Richard Benjamin and Ali MacGraw.

Based on a novella by Philip Roth and featuring original songs by The Association, "Goodbye Columbus" is about Neil, a poor Bronx librarian, and Brenda, a pampered Jewish princess from Westchester. "Goodbye Columbus" was both MacGraw and Benjamin's film debuts, playing Brenda and Neil as they try to cross class lines. A very funny and poignant comedy.
Tags: Ali MacGraw Richard Benjamin Goodbye Columbus movie trailer
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Peerce, Larry (Director). Goodbye, Columbus. United States: Willow Tree, 1969.

Starring: Richard Benjamin (Neil Klugman, library worker); Ali McGraw (Brenda Patimkin)
Based on the Novel: Roth, Philip. Goodbye, Columbus. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1959.

The Army interrupts Neil Klugman's degree in English Literature, and afterward he works at a public library. His girlfriend's mother says, "It must be very interesting, the library business." He replies, "I don't know. Yeah, I guess so. No, not very." Mrs. Patimkin asks her daughter, "What does your friend do at the library?" She answers, "I haven't the slightest idea." Yet it's evident from the few library scenes that Neil is good at his job and cares about his patrons (especially a young black boy fascinated by French artist Gauguin), although his job gets no respect from his Jewish princess girlfriend or her family. He expresses no dedication to the job; in fact, Neil makes it clear that the job is a stop-gap, but as he makes no plans for the future, he could well become one of those library lifers who drifts in and then never leaves. Bless 'em, too. (The book has more library scenes and appearances by the little boy, and warrants a closer look by anyone wanting to examine male librarians from literature.)



"Goodbye, Columbus" (1969), an adaptation of Philip Roth's novella of the same title, is a romantic comedy with an unconventional dramatic ending. The picture features Richard Benjamin as Neil Klugman, a poor Bronx librarian, and Ali MacGraw as Brenda Patimkin, a Radcliffe College student spending her free summer months at home with her wealthy parents in Westchester. The couple engages in a whirlwind summertime romantic romp, but their differences are too great to sustain the relationship. Brenda's mother, recently achieving nouveau riche status - a house in Westchester - desires a man of higher financial and social stature than Neil for her daughter. When Brenda's mother displays initial concern about Neil, her father remarks, "Leave her alone. She'll get tired of him."

The film's first library scene highlights some of Neil's occupational skills and telents. As Neil enters the library, supervisor Mr. Scapelle (Delos V. Smith Jr.) asks him to work at the main desk because a staff member is absent. Neil joins Gloria (uncredited) behind the desk and toys with a date stamp to ensure that it has the correct date. A young boy soon appears at the desk asking for books. Unable to understand the category of books for which the youngster is asking, Neil requests the youth to spell the word for him; "a-r-t," the youth replies.

Neil identifies the location of the art collection, and the youngster heads for the books. As Neil and the young patron are concluding their discussion, librarian John McKee (Bill Derringer) descends the stairway behind the desk and confronts Neil, "Why did you let him in for?" "It's a public library," Neil responds. John informs Neil that the youngster looked at art nudes on the previous morning and "of course, I threw him out." Neil and John discuss the behavior of young boys who look at nudes in art books:

John: You know what those boys do up there?
Neil: Oh, John. I don't think they do it right there.
John: They do so. I've seen them. Not out in the open, of course, but you can tell what they're doing.
Neil: Johnny, why don't you let him alone.

John rejects Neil's suggestion and hustles up the stairs to see Scapelle about evicting the youngster. Neil follows, stating he will get the boy. John is adamant about removing the boy, "It's disgusting what they do up here." Neil responds, "Don't worry about it, Johnny. They're the ones that are going to get warts all over their dirty little hands." Neil then goes to find the boy in the art room. The youngster is in the balcony, sitting at the edge of the walkway railing and dangling his legs over the balcony. Neil climbs a ladder to be near the boy, and the two discuss some of Gauguin's paintings that intrigue the boy. Looking at one of the paintings, the boy remarks, "Hey, look at this one. Man, ain't that the life," as the scene fades into Neil arriving at the Patimkins' Westchester house in his convertible.

In the second library scene, Neil is flipping through a card tray at the desk when an elderly bespectacled gentleman approaches him with the Gauguin book. Neil asks if he wants to check out the book. The patron is hearing impaired and replies loudly, "What?" Neil, recognizing the book, looks at a notebook and loudly informs the gentleman that he cannot check out the book because there is a hold on it. Again, the loud response, "What?" Neil's increasingly loud explanations are all greeted with a loud "What?"

Scapelle walks down the rear stairway as Neil shouts at the patron, and other patrons working quietly in the reading area voice their disapproval of the vociferous exchange by uttering "shush" and "quiet." Scapelle asks, "Any problem?" Neil responds with a loud "What? Huh? No!" The supervisor inquires, "You're going on a vacation tomorrow, aren't you?" Neil replies affirmatively, and Scapelle remarks, "You need it."

Neil grabs the Gauguin book and dashes off to the art room. The youth is in the balcony, and Neil asks the boy to come down and talk with him. Attempting to prevent further problems the boy might have iwth John, Neil offers the youngster the opportunity to check out the book. When he asks the youngster if he has a library card, the boy immediately assumes a defensive stance, "No, sir. I haven't done anything wrong." Neil explains that a card will permit him to take the book home, but the boy remains defensive, "Why don't you want me around here?" Neil, becoming attuned to the youngster's interpretation of his questions, states "I didn't say I didn't want you around here." "I like it here" is the boy's response. Neil tackles the problem from a different angle: "Someday, someboyd is going to want to take this book out of here sometime. Aren't you worried about that?" The boy's response is to the point: "Why should I be worried? Nobody's done it yet." Neil smiles at the boy's response, and the scene fades.

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