Looking for Mr. Goodbar (film)
|Looking for Mr. Goodbar|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Brooks|
|Produced by||Freddie Fields|
|Screenplay by||Richard Brooks|
|Based on||Looking for Mr. Goodbar
by Judith Rossner
|Music by||Artie Kane|
|Cinematography||William A. Fraker|
|Edited by||George Grenville|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||136 minutes|
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 a financial and critical success, and garnered Weld an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, it is out of print on VHS and to date has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray.
The film traces the sexual awakening of Theresa Dunn, a young teacher of Irish American descent who is searching for excitement outside her mundane existence. Suffering from severe body image issues following a childhood surgery that left a large scar on her back, Theresa finds first love with her older, married university professor, Martin, who ends the affair just before Theresa graduates. 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 Rossner's novel, Theresa's recreational sexual encounters slowly become an addiction, and she pursues more dangerous men with violent sexual proclivities to enhance her "high"; however, the film version of the character takes a lighter approach. In one scene, Theresa notes that most of her sexual encounters, while not violent, were with men who had merely odd or funny quirks. She views her one-night stands with shady low-lifes as a way to provide excitement and adventure to her otherwise boring and ordinary life. She is careful not to allow any of her encounters to become serious, and has a "house rule" that her paramours must leave before daybreak. She even sets an alarm clock to remind the men to leave, in case either of them falls asleep.
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 a good Irish-American boy. 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 and harasses 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 War 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. Theresa asks him to leave, per her "house rule," which Gary misinterprets as questioning his sexuality. In a rage, Gary attacks her and begins beating and raping her. He then stabs her to death. Theresa's lifeless face drifts farther away from the screen and into a black void as the film ends.
- Diane Keaton as Theresa Dunn
- Elizabeth Cheshire as Young Theresa
- Tuesday Weld as Katherine
- Richard Gere as Tony
- William Atherton as James
- Richard Kiley as Mr. Dunn
- LeVar Burton as Cap Jackson
- Brian Dennehy as Surgeon
- Alan Feinstein as Martin
- Tom Berenger as Gary
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. Some, however, thought the film lurid and muddled; Time magazine's review was titled "Diane in the Rough."
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.
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. 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."
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.
- "LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR (X)". C.I.C. British Board of Film Classification. November 21, 1977. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
- Looking for Mr. Goodbar at Box Office Mojo
- NoFlix: 23 great movies not available on region-1 DVD, Onion OV Club
- Chicago Sun-Times
- "Early Sea Changes in Borderline Personality Disorder", Current Psychiatry Reports 2006, 8:1–4