Field, Sally 2

‘Kiss Me Goodbye' learning experience for Sally Field


From the Sept. 23, 1982, Deseret News

NEW YORK – "Kiss Me Goodbye" was more than just another film to Sally Field – it was her opportunity to learn more about filmmaking than she ever knew before.

"It's really funny how much I avoided learning all these years," she explained in round robin interviews in New York recently. "I was around it and I just never bothered to compute it.

"There are a lot of scripts and most of them are written for men and most of them stink. I have a production company at Columbia, I've had it for a year now, and I have three films in development and I have a couple of people who have been teaching me things."

One of those people is "Kiss Me Goodbye" director Robert Mulligan. "Bob let me learn. I've been in the business for 20 years now and I've never really known what was going on, but Bob really let me in."


                               Jeff Bridges, left, Sally Field and James Caan, 'Kiss Me Goodbye'

Field said she was almost not part of the project at all, having rejected the script for "Kiss Me Goodbye" when she first read it some two years ago. "When I read it, it was in a rough form. I thought it was too silly. Then, when I read it a second time, I saw it. Either the script had changed that much or I had changed that much – probably a little bit of each.

"You always have to ask twice with me, because in the morning I'm one person and in the afternoon I'm another. In the first draft of the script, it was simply silly to me and I couldn't find a way to make it realistic."

Making it realistic became the challenge, but as Field talked with her director, Mulligan, she saw that their views of her character melded quite well. "Even though the pitfalls and possibilities that the film would become silly or farcical were there, that was our responsibility, to constantly fight it. The movie that we wanted to make was a highly sophisticated comedy with a baseline level of reality – not a hard-hitting message but something that people can identify with.

"I've never really had a yearning to play any particular kind of person; the only yearning that I always have is to do something different all the time. I'm always attracted to something different than I've done, or something that will tap into another part that I haven't called on – it's just a lot of fun for me to change around."

In that regard, this kind of role was much more difficult than the role that won her an Oscar three years ago. " ‘Norma Rae' was a piece of cake, no question about it. ‘Kiss Me Goodbye' was very different. You couldn't let the seriousness of it get so serious that it pulled you out of the comedy. You couldn't let the comedy in it get so hard that it pulled you out of any kind of reality. You keep walking that very fine line."


Sally Field hugs 'Kiss Me Goodbye' co-star Claire Trevor, a former star of Hollywood's Golden Age of movies

"Kiss Me Goodbye" casts Field as a widow whose dead husband, played by James Caan, begins haunting her just when she is about to marry Jeff Bridges. As a result, her old feelings for the first husband are stirred up again and she feels she must choose between them. On the surface, it resembles the recent "Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands," but that film was much raunchier than "Kiss Me Goodbye."

"This film has a certain texture, a certain fabric," Field said. "If you put the three of them in bed together (as was the case in ‘Dona Flor'), it breaks the fabric and becomes a dirty joke. The dialogue is funny, high comedy, and yet not stepping over the line and making it go into the wrong tense."