Being the only classic film lover in my household, I am on a quest to prove that the classics are equal to and even better than our modern movie offerings. So I am always delighted when I introduce one that the whole family ends up enjoying (thereby proving me right!)
Never Say Goodbye is just such a film. This romantic comedy reminded me a bit of The Parent Trap. It tells the story of exes Phil and Ellen Gayley and their young daughter Flip’s (short for Phillipa, named after her father of course) efforts to see them reunited. Phil is a famous artist constantly in the company of beautiful women, but still in love with his wife. Ellen is still in love with him too, but understandably has some trust issues. Encouraged by her wealthy uptight mother, she keeps Phil at arms length.
Flip is not happy with the arrangement in which she spends half the year with one parent and half with the other. She and her father collude to bring Ellen around to their way of thinking. However every time Ellen comes close to reconciling with Phil, she finds him in the company of one of his models. Adding to the confusion, Flip has been corresponding with a Marine pretending to be Ellen. When he suddenly shows up to meet his pen pal the whole family is in for a bewildering, but amusing path to their ultimate reunion.
I can’t find much not to love about this film. It sparkles and fizzes like a glass of champagne. The actors are perfectly cast for their roles. Ellen is played by Eleanor Parker who most will recognize as the Baroness in the Sound of Music. She is absolutely stunning here and so poised and dignified while also being vulnerable. Errol Flynn plays a part which calls for comedic timing and he does it well. He is always good in roles where he is the lovable rogue.
The two standouts are child actress Patti Brady who plays Flip as a precocious, charming, grown up eight year old girl. She does a great job playing her while also playing a child pretending to be more mature than she is.
Second is Forrest Tucker as Corporal Fenwick Lonkowski, Flip’s Marine pen pal who gives Phil some competition for Ellen’s attentions. He is hysterical. Seriously. Other favorite faces are Hattie McDaniel (Mammy of Gone with the Wind) as Flip’s caretaker and my favorite S.Z. Sakall who is a friend of the family.
If you like lighthearted romantic comedies then you will love this one. I can find no higher recommendation to give than that my family, who aren’t necessarily classic film fans, are still talking about how much they liked this movie days later.