Looking for Mr. Goodbar (film)

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Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Brooks
Produced by Freddie Fields
Screenplay by Richard Brooks
Based on Looking for Mr. Goodbar  
by Judith Rossner
Starring Diane Keaton
Tuesday Weld
Richard Gere
William Atherton
Richard Kiley
Music by Artie Kane
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Editing by George Grenville
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • October 19, 1977 (1977-10-19)
Running time 136 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $22,512,655[2]

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a 1977 American erotic drama film written for the screen and directed by Richard Brooks, starring Diane Keaton, Tuesday Weld, and Richard Gere, and featuring Richard Kiley and Tom Berenger. The film is based on Judith Rossner's novel of the same name, which was in turn based on the real-life murder of New York City schoolteacher Roseann Quinn.

Although the film was an award-nominated financial success and is considered a classic by some critics, it is out of print on VHS and to date has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray.[3][4]


The film traces the sexual awakening and rejection of traditional mores of Theresa Dunn, a young teacher searching for excitement outside 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, Martin, 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 repulsed by 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 she 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, she notes that 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 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 caseworker named James, 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, 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.



The film opened to mostly good reviews and solid box office. Critics praised Keaton's performance and Brooks, a creator of several classic films, for making a provocative film about a dark subject.[citation needed] Some, however, thought the film lurid and muddled; Time magazine's review was titled "Diane in the Rough."[citation needed]

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, and Berenger and Gere in films.[citation needed]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, praising Keaton's performance but lamenting the "many loose ends and dead ends", some of which he blamed on significantly altering the novel's plot.[5] It was also noted that while the novel is set in New York City, the film is said to be located in San Francisco (but noticeably filmed in Chicago's Rush Street neighborhood), and John Simon surmised that "the main character is made considerably prettier, thus reducing the principal sources of her insecurity."

Robert O. Friedel, MD, has suggested that Theresa's behavior in the film is consistent with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.[6]


Weld received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and William A. Fraker received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

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.


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