The 1980s saw several nostalgic stories of adult protagonists looking back at their misspent youth. Some, like Stand By Me (1986), were well-received. Others, like Stealing Home (1988), were not. Richert’s original film is definitely in the same vein as these motion pictures with a voiceover narration by the protagonist as an adult, reminiscing about a pivotal moment in his life spent in
Jimmy fancies himself a poet of the beatnik variety and is something of a shrewd-ish Lothario, making the moves on a college girl intended for Fred. Jimmy hangs out with wealthy teenagers definitely on the snobby side with too much time on their hands. He is also in conflict with his parents who want him to either go to an all-boys business school or stay at home – not a great choice for a teenager with a raging libido.
Jimmy has a girlfriend (sort of) named Lisa (Meredith Salenger) who likes to make-out with him but doesn’t like it to go much beyond that. They see other people but are obviously strongly attracted to each other. She is scared of losing control of herself around him and succumbing to his charms. Meredith Salenger is adorable as Lisa and I remember having a big crush on her character as a teen watching the film when it first came out. She has an innocent vulnerability that is endearing and sexy. She also has genuine chemistry with her co-star, River Phoenix. Their first scene together has a playful, sexual tension to it that has a ring of honesty for anyone who’s tried to make it with a girl like that. There’s an adolescent awkwardness that is authentic. Unfortunately, the studio version of the film played the sexual episodes for laughs and cheapened them with hit tunes from the ‘60s but this new cut has Elmer Bernstein’s original, elegant score playing over Jimmy and Lisa’s first encounter.
When Jimmy finds out that Lisa is going to college in
The omission of Richert’s narration in the studio cut makes Jimmy a more unlikable character. Its presence in this new version not only gives the film a more literary feel, but also puts us inside Jimmy’s head, providing motivation for what he does in the film and how he feels about it now, after all these years. His fatal character flaw is that he’s controlled by his libido and it gets him into all kinds of trouble. Lisa has romantic aspirations while all he wants to do is have sex with her. This was
A new scene included in this director’s cut has Jimmy showing compassion for his friend Suzie (Louanne) and also lost in a nightmarish part of
William Richert finished principal photography on his film in 1986 and after editing it, he screened the motion picture for Island Pictures, the financial backers. According to Richert, they liked it so much that it was felt that the film could succeed beyond the art house circuit. While filming,
Fox decided to do a new advertising campaign. Richert says that he liked the existing campaign and did not want to delay the film’s release. Richert also claims that Schwartz told him that
According to Richert, the publicity division spent two years making changes and during this time,
Schwartz wanted to replace Richert’s narration with the actor son of
The marketing department changed the name of the film to A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon because they claimed that nobody had ever heard of anyone named, “Jimmy Reardon.” Fox decided not to screen the film for critics in advance, which is generally perceived as a lack of faith the studio has in the film. According to Richert, Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times called the studio and insisted on seeing the film. When she was denied, she got a copy from someone at
Jimmy Reardon was not well-received by several mainstream critics, including the Washington Post which wrote, “This is a case where the voice of the writer and the unexpectedness of the details he’s collected allow you to overlook the shoddy mechanics – even to consider them as part of the movie’s odd appeal.” Janet Maslin, in the New York Times, wrote that Richert “has done what he can to make this a more or less conventional coming-of-age story. In that he fails miserably, since conventionality is not his strong suit.” However, Rick Groen in the Globe and Mail praised Richert’s casting choices as “subtle as everything else in this intricate picture...
Aren’t You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye? exposes the class struggle that exists in the
In the end, Richert went along with all of the studio’s changes so that his film would at least receive a theatrical release but in doing so gave the world a compromised version of his film that was very different than the one he had originally made. Fortunately, his version has now seen the light of the day and is available for anyone to see. Bernstein’s score and Richert’s original voiceover narration completely changes the tone and feel of the film, giving it a much more wistful, melancholic tone instead of the annoying teen sex romp vibe of the studio cut. Aren’t You Even Gonna Kiss Me Goodbye? is a smart, engaging film filled with excellent performances by the entire cast under the rock solid direction of Richert who has crafted an excellent ode to a specific period in his past.
Ann Magnuson offers her views of the director's cut.
Here's the trailer for the director's cut: