Looking for Mr. Goodbar (film)

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For the 1975 novel, see Looking for Mr. Goodbar.
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
William Atherton
Richard Kiley
Richard Gere
Music by Artie Kane
Cinematography William A. Fraker
Edited 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 drama film written and directed by Richard Brooks, starring Diane Keaton, Tuesday Weld, Richard Gere, Richard Kiley and Tom Berenger. The film is based on Judith Rossner's 1975 novel of the same name, which was inspired by the 1973 murder of New York City schoolteacher Roseann Quinn.

The film was a financial and critical success, and garnered Weld an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.


Set in the mid-1970s, the film traces the sexual awakening of Theresa Dunn (Diane Keaton), a young Irish-American teacher searching for excitement outside her ordered life. While in college, Theresa lives with her repressive Irish Catholic parents, and suffers from severe body image issues following a childhood surgery for scoliosis that left a large scar on her back. Theresa later finds out that her scoliosis is congenital and that her aunt had the same condition and committed suicide; as a result, Theresa is reluctant to have children of her own. Meanwhile, her beautiful "perfect" older sister, Katherine (Tuesday Weld), has left her husband and embarked on a wild lifestyle involving multiple affairs, a secret abortion, recreational drug use, and a short-lived marriage to a Jewish man. Theresa finds first love and loses her virginity with her older, married college professor Martin (Alan Feinstein), who ends the affair just before her graduation, leaving Theresa feeling used and lonely.

Theresa takes a job teaching deaf children, and proves to be a gifted and caring teacher. With Katherine's encouragement, she moves out of her parents' home into her own apartment in the city. She begins to go clubbing at night and picks up men for one-night stands as a way of getting excitement and sexual fulfillment without commitment, always insisting that the men leave before morning. 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, involving a switchblade knife and drugs. At one point he gives her a Quaalude pill which causes her to oversleep and arrive very late for work the next day, to the resentment of her employer and students. Tony eventually becomes controlling and abusive, causing Theresa to break up with him. He then stalks and harasses her at the school where she works and makes threatening phone calls to her at night.

Through her job, Theresa also meets and dates an Irish-American welfare caseworker named James (William Atherton). Her parents approve of the responsible James, seeing him as a potential husband for Theresa. However, James wants a "normal" monogamous relationship, which Theresa sees as stifling her freedom. Although James initially seems nice, over time he appears to become as controlling and disrespectful of Theresa as Tony was.

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 Gary (Tom Berenger), a sexually confused ex-convict, who tells Theresa he has a pregnant wife in Florida, but has been "shacked up" with lovers (who, it is strongly implied, are gay) since coming to the city. At Theresa's apartment, Gary finds himself unable to attain an erection. Theresa asks him to leave, which Gary misinterprets as questioning his sexuality. In a rage, Gary attacks her, beats and rapes her, and finally stabs her to death.



The film's soundtrack included numerous disco tracks from the era. A soundtrack album was released by Columbia Records (JS 35029).

  1. "Theme from Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Don't Ask to Stay Until Tomorrow)" – Carol Connors and Artie Kane
  2. "Don't Leave Me This Way" – Thelma Houston
  3. "Lowdown" – Boz Scaggs
  4. "Machine Gun" – Commodores
  5. "Love Hangover" – Diana Ross
  6. "She Wants to (Get on Down)" – Bill Withers
  7. "Theme from Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Don't Ask to Stay Until Tomorrow) [Reprise]"– Carol Connors and Artie Kane
  8. "Theme from Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Don't Ask to Stay Until Tomorrow) [Vocal]" – Carol Connors and Artie Kane; vocal by Marlena Shaw
  9. "She's Lonely" – Bill Withers
  10. "Try Me, I Know We Can Make It" – Donna Summer
  11. "Back Stabbers" – The O'Jays
  12. "Prelude to Love" – Donna Summer
  13. "Could It Be Magic" – Donna Summer


The film opened to mostly good reviews and solid box office. Some critics praised Keaton's performance.[3] As of October 2016, the movie has 76% score on Rotten Tomatoes.[4]

Some found the film lurid and muddled; a review by Frank Rich for Time magazine criticized Brooks for making "many crude miscalculations" in adapting the novel, and the review was titled "Diane in the Rough".[3] 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 significant alterations to the novel's plot.[5] John Simon noted that while the novel is set in New York City, the film is said to be located in San Francisco (but identifiably filmed in Chicago's Rush Street neighborhood). He also noted that "the main character is made considerably prettier, thus reducing the principal sources of her insecurity," as compared to her portrayal in the novel.[6]

Robert O. Friedel, MD, has suggested that Theresa's behavior in the film is consistent with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.[7]

Looking for Mr. Goodbar introduced Richard Gere, LeVar Burton, and Tom Berenger, as men whom Theresa encounters.


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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR (X)". C.I.C. British Board of Film Classification. November 21, 1977. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ Looking for Mr. Goodbar at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b Rich, Frank (October 24, 1977). "Diane in the Rough". Time (110(17)): 104. Retrieved 2014-10-20. 
  4. ^ Looking for Mr. Goodbar at Rotten Tomatoes
  5. ^ Chicago Sun-Times
  6. ^ Simon, John (December 9, 1977). "The Movies: Double Whammy". National Review: 1443. 
  7. ^ "Early Sea Changes in Borderline Personality Disorder", Current Psychiatry Reports 2006, 8:1–4

External links[edit]