Nobody Waved Good-bye

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Nobody Waved Good-bye
Directed by Don Owen
Produced by Don Owen
Roman Kroitor
Written by Don Owen
Starring Peter Kastner
Julie Biggs
Music by Eldon Rathburn
Cinematography John Spotton
Edited by John Spotton
Distributed by Columbia Pictures (Canada)
Cinema V (U.S.)
Release date(s)
  • August 13, 1964 (1964-08-13)
  • December 12, 1965 (1965-12-12) (US)
Running time 80 min.
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $75,000

Nobody Waved Good-bye is a 1964 black-and-white National Film Board of Canada production directed by Don Owen, starring Peter Kastner, Julie Biggs and Claude Rae. It was followed twenty years later by a sequel, Unfinished Business, with the same director and two lead actors.


Owen had originally planned to shoot a half-hour television docudrama provisionally called First Offence about probation officers, with a budget of $35,000, and using occasional dramatizations to tell the story. After the start of principal photography, the director believed the story could be expanded into a feature film, and NFB executive producer Tom Daly allocated additional funds for a total of $75,000.[1]

Owen also decided to shift the focus of the film away from probation officers, onto a coming-of-age story of a young man from the suburbs growing into adulthood. He used a small crew of five people for Nobody Waved Good-bye —and no screenplay. Instead, he wrote a short outline that he would discuss with the actors and cameraman John Spotton before each scene, with dialogue then improvised based on these discussions.[1]

The film was shot over three weeks in the summer and winter of 1963. Spotton shot on 16mm in order to give the film a more documentary look. One scene, in which the protagonist is working at a parking lot, was shot with hidden cameras, with real patrons unaware they were being filmed. Owen later said that his work on Nobody Waved Good-bye was influenced by the Direct Cinema documentaries of fellow NFB filmmakers Michel Brault and Gilles Groulx.[1]



Nobody Waved Good-bye premiered at an international festival in Montreal on August 13, 1964, then screened at a film festival in New York City where positive reviews included Judith Crist of the New York Herald Tribune, who called it “A film that you should not miss.”[1] A more mixed review came from The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, who, while praising the film, concluded: "A good job of pictorial pamphleteering on the topic of parent-child relations is done by "Nobody Waved Good-bye," but it comes to no forceful conclusion, either emotional or intellectual."[2]

Canadian theatrical[edit]

The film was initially distributed in Canada by Columbia Pictures. The film's theatrical release began at the former Kent Theatre in November, where it performed very poorly, barely grossing $700 in a week. Columbia pulled the film and released it in Toronto over Christmas, where it performed somewhat better. Canadian film critics initially offered mixed reviews. Following its success in U.S. theatres (see below), Columbia decided to release the film in Ottawa, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, to better response. On July 23, 1965, a French-subtitled version, Départ sans adieux, was released in Montreal and throughout Quebec, also successfully.[1]

U.S. theatrical[edit]

U.S.-based distributor Cinema V had seen Nobody Waved Good-bye at the New York festival and sought to acquire theatrical rights for the rest of the world minus Canada. The NFB refused due to pending sales in Europe, so Cinema V acquired U.S. theatrical rights and released the film in New York City on April 21, 1965, to acclaim. The film subsequently played in Washington, Boston, Los Angeles and many other American cities, to positive audience and critical reaction.[1]

International distribution[edit]

Nobody Waved Good-bye played theatrically in such markets as Czechoslovakia, the United Kingdom, Israel and Yugoslavia, followed by TV sales to dozens of broadcasters including the BBC. However, an Irish distribution deal fell through when the NFB refused a demand from Irish censors to cut references to sex and pregnancy.[1]


Despite the fact that it was a fiction film, it was awarded the Robert J. Flaherty Award for best non-fiction film by BAFTA in 1965. [1]

In 1984, the Toronto International Film Festival ranked the film ninth in the Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time.[3] In 2004, Nobody Waved Goodbye was honoured as a MasterWork by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada. [2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Ohayon, Albert (18 September 2013). "Nobody Waved Good-bye: The Little Film That Could". blog. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosley (17 September 1964). "Movie Review: Nobody Waved Goodbye". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time," The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2012, URL accessed 28 April 2013.

External links[edit]