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Goodbye Charlie is a 1964 American comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Debbie Reynolds and Tony Curtis. The film is about a callous womanizer who gets his just reward. It was adapted from George Axelrod's play Goodbye, Charlie. The play provided the basis for Switch, with Ellen Barkin and Jimmy Smits, and the sitcom My Three Men.

Goodbye Charlie
Goodbye Charlie - 1964 - Poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVincente Minnelli
Produced byDavid Weisbart
Written byHarry Kurnitz
Based onplay by George Axelrod
StarringDebbie Reynolds
Tony Curtis
Music byAndré Previn
CinematographyMilton R. Krasner
Edited byJohn W. Holmes
Venice Productions
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • November 18, 1964 (1964-11-18)
Running time
116 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3.5 million[1]
Box office$3,700,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[2]



Philandering Hollywood writer Charlie Sorrel (Harry Madden) is shot and killed by Hungarian film producer Sir Leopold Sartori (Walter Matthau) when he is caught fooling around with Sartori's wife, Rusty (Laura Devon). Later, passerby Bruce Minton III (Pat Boone) comes to the aid of a dazed woman (Debbie Reynolds) wandering on a beach. She does not remember much other than directions to Charlie's residence.

The next morning, it all comes back to her: She is the reincarnation of Charlie. After getting over the shock, she convinces her best (and only) friend, George Tracy (Tony Curtis), of her identity. All manner of complications arise as she first accepts the situation and then decides to take advantage of it, with Tracy's reluctant help.

Charlie has changed his sex, but he cannot change his ways, and eventually he gets murdered again, only to be reincarnated again, this time as a male dog.


Original playEdit

Goodbye Charlie
Written byGeorge Axelrod
Date premiered16 December 1959
Place premieredLyceum Theatre, New York
Original languageEnglish
SettingThe beach house of the late Charlie Sorel, a few miles north of Malibu, California. The present.

George Axelrod's play debuted on Broadway in 1959 starring Lauren Bacall and Sydney Chaplin, produced by Leland Hayward, and directed by Axelrod himself. It was not a big success, running for only 109 performances.[4] The New York Times wrote it played like "an extended vaudeville sketch".[5]


Film rights to the play were bought before it premiered by 20th Century Fox for $150,000 plus a percentage of the profits.[6] James Garner and Marilyn Monroe were discussed as stars.[7]

Darryl F. Zanuck offered the project to Billy Wilder after he returned to Fox, but Wilder turned it down, saying "no self-respecting picture maker would ever want to work for your company".[8] (Zanuck had just forced Joseph L. Mankiewicz to re-cut Cleopatra (1963)).

Playwright Harry Kurnitz was hired to write the script and Tony Curtis was attached early.[9] Vincente Minnelli was hired to direct, his first movie away from MGM since 1942.[10]


According to Fox records, the film needed to earn $7 million in rentals in order for the studio to break even on its release. The film ultimately failed to make this goal, making only $4,555,000.[11]

Television adaptationEdit

In 1985, Goodbye Charlie was made into a TV series (starring Suzanne Somers as the reincarnated Charlie), but only the pilot episode was broadcast.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p254
  2. ^ This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6 and Solomon p 229. Please note these figures are rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Goodbye Charlie at Playbill
  5. ^ Theatre: Expanded Vaudeville Sketch: " Goodbye Charlie" Has Premiere at Lyceum Lauren Bacall Stars in Axelrod Comedy By BROOKS ATKINSON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 Dec 1959: 50.
  6. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 July 1959: 8.
  7. ^ Garner Gets Offer to Co-Star with Marilyn Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 30 Jan 1961: a1.
  8. ^ Studio Shakeups Send Hopes High: Hollywood Letter By John C. Waugh. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 13 Dec 1962: 6.
  9. ^ Looking at Hollywood: 'Goodbye, Charlie' Script Is in Work Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 20 Feb 1964: c2.
  10. ^ Film Director Moves to Fox New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Jan 1964: 24.
  11. ^ Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away: the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 323.
  12. ^ Goodbye Charlie (TV pilot) on IMDb

External linksEdit