A splendid film for a lot of reasons. The Phillip Roth novel from which the film was adapted supplies unusually good dialogue for the script and an excellent structure on which the director can hang visual and audio elements that meaningfully support the story. Check out how well the musical score shifts to support the mood of each scene. Then there is an excellent cast.
The title is a reference to the brother, a basketball player at Ohio State in Columbus, who frequently listens to an OSU sports commentary that signs off with "Goodbye Columbus". And the song lyrics "Hello life, goodbye Columbus" relate to leaving the protection of home/school to face the world.
Although "Goodbye Columbus" is usually thought of as the "The Graduate" with a different ending, it is much more like "Adam at 6AM". The three films were made at the very end of the 1960's, all had a searching young man as their main character, and all revolved around a new romantic relationship. But in "Goodbye Columbus" and "Adam" the tension is not between different generations but between different backgrounds and values. In both the young man eventually realizes that these differences cannot be overcome and both films go out with shots of him leaving.
The soundtrack album featuring "The Association" (and incidental music composed by Charles Fox) was probably the kiss of death for that group's credibility whatever their musical merits. While cool to be part of an outside film like "Easy Rider", it was uncool to be associated with a Hollywood product like "Goodbye Columbus". This was the summer of Woodstock and by then "The Association" had pretty much lost their audience. In addition to the title song they contributed "It's Gotta Be Real" and "So Kind To Me."
It's two most famous scenes have held up very well: the montage of Ali MacGraw swimming during the title sequence and the comical wedding guests "pig-out" at the buffet table.
The cinematography is first-rate and while the widescreen DVD showcases this, the original theatrical release has been trimmed of its most explicit material, it was probably done originally for broadcast television. As on some of the VHS versions, entire sequences have been deleted including the critical first sex sequence where birth control methods are discussed (foreshadowing) and the sequence with the rationale for his moving in with the family for two weeks. Also missing is all the vaguely graphic elements dealing with her initial refusal to have sex. If you are a first time viewer watching a sanitized version, and find puzzling narrative gaps in the story, or incomplete motivational explanations, the trimming is the reason.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.