Looking For Mr. Goodbar (1977)
50th Academy Awards 1978
Nominated for 2 awards.
Nominated for Supporting Actress (Tuesday Weld) and Cinematography (William A. Fraker).
Watched October 20, 2012.
[This review contains spoilers]
Looking For Mr. Goodbar is so far off from what I was expecting. If I know nothing about the film, I don’t look at any descriptions before I watch it, and therefore the title threw me completely off. It is based on a true story of a woman named Rosanne Quinn who was murdered in New York. Her story inspired a novel, and then this film. Richard Books, who both wrote the screenplay and directed the film, decided to change the character of Quinn in order to make her more likable, but her end is still the same.
Reportedly, Quinn was a woman living in the time of women’s lib and got her fixes not just from drugs but from increasingly violent sexual encounters. She was a school teacher by day and a bar hopper by night. The character in the film, Theresa Dunn (Diane Keaton) is the same in this regard. She teaches deaf and mute children during the day, but at night she frequents singles bars, snorts coke, and tries desperately to rebel against her strictly Catholic upbringing. Theresa differs from Quinn in that she is not a masochist. She generally would like to avoid violence and abuse and her attraction to lesser men is simply because she can abuse them with her eloquence. Ironically, the man who is the craziest of all seems like one of the sweetest in her first encounters, although we as an audience know he is not. This is another difference from the true story and the screen adaption–she brings home what she thinks is a sweet guy, maybe someone more who she would be looking for, but in Quinn’s instance, he was probably the worst of the worst from the beginning.
Theresa’s story is somewhat intriguing. She starts as a school girl with wild fantasies of her professor. He becomes her first lover–the first chauvinistic man to bed her. After her experience with him, she moves out of her father’s house and into an apartment her sister, Katherine (Tuesday Weld), offered her. Katherine is a wreck when it comes to men–she marries them without knowing them and often wakes up in the midst of naked people and doesn’t remember how she got there. But even Katherine would never let a man treat her the way Theresa eventually finds herself being treated.
When she begins her bar life, she finds a man named Tony (Richard Gere) who is an attractive, jealous player. He is unpredictable, excitable, and very alluring to her, and although he pictures her as his ‘girl,’ he shows very little commitment. His unpredictability and also physical abuse eventually end their “relationship,” but her security precautions against him eventually lead to her demise.
What is intended to be a cautionary tale is something I will never watch again. It is much longer than it needed to be and seems to fall off point many times just so that it can show just how troubled and “liberated” Theresa has become. Her home life reads as a soap opera, her one legitimate boy toy turns into a creepy stalker, and her near innocent forays into an unknowable world are very misjudged and under appreciated. Tuesday Weld was pretty deserving of her nomination as the troubled sister, and the cinematography was very interesting.
I wouldn’t recommend the film. Many people and critics alike love the film, but would not necessarily advise it for multiple viewings. I can understand its nominations, and consider Diane Keaton’s performance to be something of note, but Looking For Mr. Goodbar was not my flavor.