Looking for Mr. Goodbar (film)
|Looking for Mr. Goodbar|
|Directed by||Richard Brooks|
|Produced by||Freddie Fields|
|Written by||Richard Brooks|
|Based on||Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner|
|Cinematography||William A. Fraker|
|Editing by||George Grenville|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||135 minutes|
Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a 1977 film written for the screen and directed by Richard Brooks and starring Diane Keaton, Tuesday Weld, Richard Gere, and also features Tom Berenger. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Judith Rossner, which was in turn based on the real life murder of New York City schoolteacher Roseann Quinn.
The film traces the sexual awakening and rejection of traditional mores of Theresa Dunn (Diane Keaton), a young teacher searching for excitement outside of her mundane existence. Suffering with severe body image issues and a sense of inadequacy following a childhood surgery that left a large scar on her back, Irish American Theresa finds first love with her older, married university professor (Alan Feinstein), who ends the affair as her time in college comes to an end. The end of the affair leaves Theresa feeling used, and she begins daydreaming about being reunited with her professor.
Theresa enters the sexual revolution of the 1970s feeling confused, as she is simultaneously repelled and attracted to the sexual experimentation she witnesses going on around her. Although she continues to teach by day, developing a reputation as a gifted and caring teacher to deaf children, at night she goes clubbing at a series of increasingly seedy bars, picking up men for one-night stands. In the Judith Rossner source novel, Theresa has recreational sexual encounters that slowly become an addiction, and pursues more dangerous men with violent sexual proclivities to enhance her "high," but the film in part deviates from this; in a scene where Theresa is describing her sexual encounters, most of the men--while not violent--have odd quirks she merely jokes about. She views her one night stands with shady low-lifes as a way to provide excitement and adventure to her otherwise boring and ordinary existence.
An encounter with a street hustler named Tony (Richard Gere) develops into a nascent relationship, and the two begin regularly meeting for increasingly rough and dangerous sex, culminating in Tony's introduction of a switchblade knife into their sex play. Meanwhile, Theresa attempts to date a welfare case worker named James (William Atherton), whom her family holds up as the paragon of Irish-American life. The relationship quickly falters, as James wants a "normal" middle-class relationship, which Theresa sees as stifling her "freedom."
Theresa ultimately breaks up with Tony, who then stalks her, including harassing her outside the school where she works until the older brother of one of her students beats him up. With the new year approaching, Theresa resolves to leave her clubbing and drug use behind and take control of her life. Seeking one final hookup on New Year's Eve, Theresa picks up a man named Gary (Tom Berenger), a sexually confused Vietnam veteran who has just parted ways with his gay lover but has a pregnant wife in Florida. At Theresa's apartment, Gary finds himself unable to attain an erection. Misreading Theresa's "house rule" to leave before daybreak as her questioning his sexuality, Gary attacks her and begins beating and raping her. Gary stabs her to death. Theresa's dead face drifts farther away from the screen and into a black void as the film ends.
- Diane Keaton - Theresa Dunn
- Tuesday Weld - Katherine
- William Atherton - James
- Richard Kiley - Mr. Dunn
- Richard Gere - Tony
- LeVar Burton - Cap Jackson
- Brian Dennehy - Surgeon
- Alan Feinstein - Martin
- Tom Berenger - Gary
- Elizabeth Cheshire - Theresa as a little girl
The film opened to good reviews and solid box office. Critics praised Diane Keaton's performance and Brooks for making a provocative film about a dark subject.
Looking for Mr. Goodbar introduced Richard Gere, LeVar Burton, and Tom Berenger, well received as men whom Theresa encounters. All three went on to greater success, Burton on TV, Berenger and Gere in films.
Diane Keaton was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama. She was not nominated for an Academy Award for this film, but she won the same year for Annie Hall.
- NoFlix: 23 great movies not available on region-1 DVD, Onion OV Club
- "Early Sea Changes in Borderline Personality Disorder", Current Psychiatry Reports 2006, 8:1–4