NEVER SAY GOODBYE (aka: Don’t Ever Leave Me)

(director: James V. Kern; screenwriters: I.A.L. Diamond/adaptation by Lewis R. Foster/story by Ben & Norma Barzman; cinematographer: Arthur Edeson; editor: Folmar Blangsted; music: Friedrich Hollaender; cast: Errol Flynn (Phil Gayley), Eleanor Parker (Ellen Gayley), Patti Brady (Phillippa “Flip” Gayley), Lucile Watson (Mrs. Hamilton), S.Z. Sakall (Luigi restaurateur), Forrest Tucker (Cpl. Fenwick Lonkowski), Donald Woods (Rex DeVallon), Peggy Knudsen (Nancy Graham), Hattie McDaniel (Cozy), Tom D’Andrea (Jack Gordon); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Jacobs; Warner Bros.; 1946)
“A better Christmas film than many of the more well-known ones.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Rarely seen Christmas romantic comedy, that has swashbuckler Errol Flynn trying his hand at comedy as a doting father. Director James V. Kern (“The Doughgirls”/”Stallion Road”/”April Showers”) keeps it light. The silly and predictable story by Ben & Norma Barzman is written by I.A.L. Diamond.

Successful NYC magazine illustrator Phil Gayley (Errol Flynn) is divorced from his pretty wife Ellen (Eleanor Parker) for being too interested in his models. The arrangement has their precocious 7-year-old Phillippa (Patti Brady), known as “Flip,” take turns every six months living with each. The plot involves Flip trying to get her divorced parents, who are still in love, back together again after a year’s separation. It’s Christmas Eve when Flip gets her wish, with the help of a marine.

The comic moments have Flynn gleefully goofing on his action hero image and doing an imitation of Humphrey Bogart (with Bogie’s voice dubbed in). With Flynn game enough to sing a few bars of the song “Remember Me.” And on Christmas Eve, Flynn dresses as Santa Claus and sneaks into Ellen’s apartment because he wants to see his daughter on the sly. But a mix-up occurs when Ellen’s divorce lawyer and new romantic interest, Rex DeVallon (Donald Woods), also shows up as Santa.

There are also noted scene stealing characters around for comic relief: Hattie McDaniel is Flip’s live-in nanny; while S.Z. Sakall is the genial Greenwich Village restaurant owner, who owns the place where the couple met and still dine at regularly. A young Forrest Tucker plays a marine who Flip communicates with and passes herself off as mom, by sending him mom’s photo.

The harmless domestic comedy is always pleasantly amusing and gives one a chance to see Flynn work effectively against typecast. A better Christmas film than many of the more well-known ones.