TCM’s star of the day is Eleanor Parker, and my film pick for the actress is Never Say Goodbye, which airs today at 8:00 A.M. (EST).
Young Phillippa “Flip” Gayley (Patti Brady) wants very badly for her parents, Phil (Errol Flynn) and Ellen (Eleanor Parker), to get back together. While the two have been divorced for a year, they still have feelings for one another. Flip believes her parents will reunite in matrimony if Phil believes Ellen has a romantic life of her own, so she decides to send her soldier pen pal a photo of her mother, wanting him to think he’s been writing to her instead of the young girl. Corporal Fenwick “Wickie” Lonkowski (Forrest Tucker) soon shows up to meet the beautiful woman behind the letters, and Ellen takes the opportunity to make her ex-husband jealous, as Phil schemes to get his ex-wife back in his arms.
Starring Errol Flynn and Eleanor Parker, Never Say Goodbye may seem like an atypical picture for the stars who today are best remembered for adventure films and dramas, respectively. Here they both show off a lighter side to their acting talents in this little-known, Christmas-set romantic comedy. While Flynn was already a well-established star, Parker’s star was on the rise when this film was released. The actress said she received her big break the year before with 1945’s Pride of the Marines opposite John Garfield. However, her next two films, Never Say Goodbye and the 1947 drama Escape Me Never (both co-starring Flynn) were box office disappointments. Despite some rough patches at Warner Bros., including a couple of suspensions for refusing roles, it would only be a few short years until she was really recognized by the industry for her talents in front of the screen.
After hearing Warner Bros. was developing Caged, a film about women in prison, Parker actively lobbied for the lead role. She got it, and for her work in the film, she earned the first of her eventual three Oscar nominations for Best Actress, the other two coming from her performances in 1951’s Detective Story and 1955’s Interrupted Melody. Today though, she’s easily best remembered for her role of Baroness Elsa Schraeder in the famous 1965 musical The Sound of Music. From lighter comedies like Never Say Goodbye to heavy dramas like 1955’s The Man with the Golden Arm, Parker proved her chameleon-like versatility, earning the moniker “Woman of a Thousand Faces” by Doug McClelland, the author of a biography of the actress by the same title.
While Eleanor Parker’s most memorable films lean on the dramatic side, films like Never Say Goodbye show how great she was in comedy as well. Perhaps not the best film in the actress’s varied filmography, but it’s a delight to see her match the charming wits of Errol Flynn and play a role that’s a little different than what we’re used to seeing from her. Filled with a lot of funny moments, including an especially great scene featuring the voice of Humphrey Bogart, Never Say Goodbye is an enjoyable little holiday film.
I wrote this as a part of the 2017 TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon, where bloggers are celebrating the channel’s honorees and movies playing throughout the month. Click the banner below to read more posts!