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 byRichard Brooks
Produced byFreddie Fields
Screenplay byRichard Brooks
Based onLooking for Mr. Goodbar
by Judith Rossner
StarringDiane Keaton
Tuesday Weld
William Atherton
Richard Kiley
Richard Gere
Music byArtie Kane
CinematographyWilliam A. Fraker
Edited byGeorge Grenville
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • October 19, 1977 (1977-10-19)
Running time
136 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$2.5 million
Box office$22.5 million[2]

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a 1977 American crime drama film, based on Judith Rossner's best-selling 1975 novel of the same name, which was inspired by the 1973 murder of New York City schoolteacher Roseann Quinn, who led something of a double life. The film was written and directed by Richard Brooks, and stars Diane Keaton, Tuesday Weld, William Atherton, Richard Kiley, and Richard Gere.

The film was a commercial success, earning $22.5 million,[note 1] and garnered two Academy Award nominations, Best Supporting Actress for Tuesday Weld and Best Cinematography for William Fraker.[3]


In the mid-1970s, Theresa Dunn (Keaton), a young Irish-American school teacher in Chicago, experiences her sexual awakening, while searching for excitement outside her ordered life. While in college, Theresa lives with her repressive Polish-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 (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, to her much older, married college professor Martin. He ends their 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 and into an apartment in Katherine's building. She frequents a bar at night, where she meets Tony (Gere), a charming but vain Italian-American. She ends up taking Tony to her apartment, taking cocaine with him and sleeping with him. Tony leaves in a hurry, and gives her a Quaalude pill to counteract the cocaine. This causes her to oversleep, and she arrives very late for work the next day, angering her employer and students. Tony then disappears for a long while, and Theresa initially misses him.

Through her job, Theresa also meets and dates an Irish-American welfare caseworker, James (Atherton). Her parents approve of the responsible James, seeing him as a potential husband for Theresa. However, the couple do not have sex, because James wants a traditional courtship, and a monogamous relationship. Theresa sees that as stifling her freedom. Although James initially seems nice, over time he appears to become controlling, and also disrespectful of Theresa. Moreover, he shows signs of being just as perverted and selfish as Tony.

Meanwhile, Theresa begins to go out to more marginal places, and has sex with complete strangers, often older men. Tony eventually returns and acts as if nothing had happened. He barges in on Theresa while she is with another man, and chases the man away. Tony becomes controlling and abusive, and Theresa also discovers that he is a street hustler. She breaks up with Tony, but he stalks and harasses her, both at home and at her workplace. After imagining what could happen if Tony were to turn her in to the police as revenge, Theresa gathers up all of the drugs in her apartment and flushes them down the toilet.

With the New Year approaching, Theresa resolves to turn over a new leaf and take control of her life. On New Year's Eve, Theresa meets Gary (Berenger) in a bar, who she cajoles into helping her avoid James. Gary has been living with his gay lover, but lies to Theresa, telling her that he has a pregnant wife in Florida. When they are in bed together at her apartment, Gary finds himself unable to achieve an erection. He then sniffs a "popper". Theresa tells him that it is OK if they do not have sex, but Gary misinterprets this as questioning his sexuality. In a rage, Gary attacks her, rapes her, and then stabs her repeatedly, killing her.



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 mixed reviews, but solid box office. Many critics praised Diane Keaton's performance.[4] The film currently holds a "fresh" 65% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 26 reviews, with the consensus "Diane Keaton gives an absolutely fearless performance in a sexual thriller whose ending will leave audiences trembling."

Some critics 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.[4] 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] Gene Siskel also awarded 3 out of 4 stars, writing that "Keaton is absolutely compelling in 'Looking for Mr. Goodbar,' even when the film is not."[6] Vincent Canby of The New York Times agreed that Keaton was "virtually the only reason" to see the film, calling her "too good to waste on the sort of material the movie provides, which is artificial without in anyway qualifying as a miracle fabric."[7] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times called Keaton's performance "high among the year's finest" in a demanding role, and declared the film "powerful, sincere and overlong, and if the film raises questions about itself it is also thought-provoking."[8] John Simon noted that while the novel is set in New York City, the film is said to be located in San Francisco (though 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 as somewhat of a "Plain Jane".[9] Pauline Kael noted, "Richard Brooks [...] has laid a windy jeremiad about our permissive society on top of fractured film syntax. He's lost the erotic, pulpy morbidity that made the novel a compulsive read; the film is splintered, moralistic, tedious."[10]

Author Judith Rossner "detested" the film,[11] although she praised Keaton's performance. She somewhat callously added, "I feel like the mother who delivered her 13-year-old daughter to the door of Roman Polanski and didn't know what was going to happen."[12]

Scientific analysis[edit]

Robert O. Friedel, MD, has suggested that Theresa's behavior in the film is consistent with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.[13]


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

Home video releases[edit]

While the film was released on LaserDisc and VHS, it has never been officially released on DVD nor Blu-ray.

In popular culture[edit]

The film inspired the music video for the 1993 Madonna song "Bad Girl".[14] In the video, Madonna plays a woman who, like Theresa, engages in self-destructive behavior by drinking heavily and sleeping around with random men before she is ultimately murdered by a man she had selected for a one-night stand.

The film was referenced in the "Homer Badman" episode of The Simpsons. When Homer and Marge are at a candy convention, an announcement over the PA system says "Looking for Mr Goodbar, the front desk is Looking for Mr Goodbar".


Tuesday Weld received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress,[15] and William A. Fraker received a nomination for Best Cinematography at the 50th Academy Awards.[16]

Diane Keaton was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress (Drama) and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress. (She was not nominated for an Academy Award for this film, but she did win Best Actress the same year for Annie Hall.[17])

Director Richard Brooks was nominated for "Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium" from the Writers Guild of America.


  1. ^ In 2016 dollars, the film would have earned $86.9 million. See Box Office Mojo (Accessed December 30, 2016).

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. ^ 1978|Oscars.org|Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  4. ^ a b Rich, Frank (October 24, 1977). "Diane in the Rough". Time (110(17)): 104. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  5. ^ Chicago Sun-Times
  6. ^ Siskel, Gene (October 21, 1977). "Keaton worth seeing in 'Goodbar'". Chicago Tribune. Section 4, p. 3.
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 20, 1977). "Film: 'Goodbar' Turns Sour". The New York Times. 27.
  8. ^ Champlin, Charles (October 19, 1977). "Warm-Blooded 'Mr. Goodbar'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1, 19.
  9. ^ Simon, John (December 9, 1977). "The Movies: Double Whammy". National Review: 1443.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ Pike, Rayner and Nancy. Rossner, Judith Louise. Encyclopedia.com (Accessed December 30, 2016).
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ " Friedel, Robert O., MD (2006). "Early Sea Changes in Borderline Personality Disorder". Current Psychiatry Reports. 8: 1–4. Archived from the original on 2009-04-17. Retrieved April 17, 2009.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Madonna: Bad Girl (Video 1993)-Connections-IMDB
  15. ^ Vanessa Redgrave Wins Supporting Actress: 1978 Oscars
  16. ^ Vilmos Zsigmond Wins Cinematography: 1978 Oscars
  17. ^ Diane Keaton Wins Best Actress Oscar: 1978 Oscars

External links[edit]