Bye Bye Braverman (1968): Sidney Lumet Bittersweet Satire, Starring George Segal and Jack Warden

Based on To an Early Grave, the humorous and cynical novel by Wallace Markfield, Bye Bye Braverman is a fuzzy, unresolved, bittersweet satire, which centers on four Jewish intellectuals who, on their way to a friend’s funeral, reminisce about their dear dead friend Leslie Braverman, an idealistic but minor avant-garde writer.

He is contrasted with his four friends, writers who have compromised their integrity and sold out.  George Segal plays the disenchanted magazine writer; Jack Warden, a poet; Sorrell Booke a book reviewer,; and Joseph Wiseman a bitter bellyacher.

As usual with Sidney Lumet work, the film was shot in New York City–the journey goes from Greenwich Village to Brooklyn–and the foursome never get to the funeral, though each member discloses some revelations about his past or resent.

Somehow, the film doesn’t have the director’s assured touch–it may be too cynical–and the ending is not satisfying–even though Lumet has called it “the most personal picture I’ve ever made. Asked to explain why, he said: “These four post-Depression Jewish intellectuals are everyone I grew up with. They’re all in me, in fact.”

The cast is uniformly good: George Segal, Jack Warden, Joseph Wiseman, Sorrell Booke, Jessica Walter, Phyllis Newman, Zohra Lampert, Godfrey Cambridge.

Runtime: 96 Minutes
Released by Warner February 21, 1968

George Segal as Morroe Rieff

Jack Warden as Barnet Weinstein

Sorrell Booke as Holly Levine

Joseph Wiseman as Felix Ottensteen

Jessica Walter as Inez Braverman

Phyllis Newman as Myra Mandelbaum