on June 9, 2008
It's been ages since i saw this film as an adult. Last time i did- i lived alone, was fairly "active" in the bar scene and it was during the time that the Dahmer stuff was going on. Needless to say- this movie gave me more of a hesitant pause before bringing just ANYone home, that's for sure.
I mentioned it to my partner of 12 years and he said he had never seen it (much to my surprise). So i kept hunting and checking back at Amazon to see if it may be coming to dvd any time soon. No such luck. I've since written to Paramount asking them to please consider a nice, digital transfer dvd release of the film. Who knows for what good that was worth.
So- i go to my video store which has a huge, vault of a selection of just about anything. Grab the very ancient looking vhs copy to bring home to watch.
Besides the fact that it didnt look great- this movie is STILL as powerful, provacative and shocking as it was all those years ago when i first saw it. Even when you know how it's going to end- it is still jaw-dropping and brutally harsh and yes- even quite sad, frankly.
This movie will stick with you after you've seen it for a while. Sort of haunts you.
Keaton is SO fantastic in her performance. Just AH-mazing. The dialog and writing and direction are top notch and still not dated even with the advances that cinema has made since.
This movie needs and deserves a good dvd release. I will be first in line to grab a copy if and when it does. I am thinking perhaps since there is a HUGE amount of music in it- that maybe that could be part of why no dvd release so far. Sometimes too much ASCAP red tape to get a movie released the way it was originally shown. Not sure how that works, honestly.
Anyway- too long now.. apologies. Do rent the vhs if you come across it. You will never forget it. Or please write to Paramount and ask them (nicely) to please consider giving it a good dvd release. I'm still stunned that it isn't on dvd to begin with. Classic and powerful still to this day.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
This is raw, risk-taking cinema--from the no-holds-barred performance of a lifetime by Dianne Keaton to the bold and imaginative direction of Hollywood maverick Richard Brooks. As depressing as the story might be to some fans of traditional films, its representation of one "good" woman's desperate search for the satisfaction of a desire essential to self-realization was previously "taboo" in an industry accustomed to portraying a "bad girl" as either a whore or, more commonly, a femme fatale. Moreover, Brooks' film is revolutionary in its capturing the woman's point-of-view. Previous Hollywood classics by Hitchcock, Ford, Capra, Hawks, Sirk, and even Cukor, invariably betrayed their patriarchal bias because of the persistence of the "male gaze." But in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" we remain inside Keaton's head even as we judge her obsessive, doomed quest for personal fulfillment. The sordid climax (normally considered death at the box office) is all the more remarkable because we see it through the eyes of the victim. When desire and the death wish converge in the mind of the protagonist, causing her to lose her capacity to see, the movie necessarily fades to black. (Small wonder the film generated much discussion among serious filmgoers.)
I was one of those so impacted by the film that I immediately read its literary source. This is one of the few times the book has proved a disappointment compared to the movie. Judy Rossner's stiff prose and journalist style don't begin to match the artistry of Keaton and Brooks not to mention the psychological depth that is normally off-limits to a medium as surface-bound as film. Anyone who cares about the history of film--especially movies portraying the woman's point-of-view--can only hope that Brooks' frequently misunderstood game-changer sees its way to Blu-ray soon.
on January 26, 2001
'Looking for Mr. Goodbar' is saturated with tangibility and keenness.By a very forituous event, I got this movie and popped it into the VCR. Two hours later, my heart was pounding and my hands were sweating. I was in inertia for perhaps, oh, twenty minutes. That's how much the movie impacted me.
Diane Keaton and her unique, rare talent stands out as Theresa Dunn, a lonely, sexually insatiable woman searching for so many things:unconditional love, understanding, and a happy life. Oppressed by her rigid father, the morals of Catholicism, the dread that nobody truly loves her, and insecurity, she tries to break out of her shell, experimenting by getting involved in the wild partying life. Compassionate teacher of deaf kids by day, heavy partyer/hooker by night. Two characteriscs entirely different, yet in one woman. She searches for true love by getting involved with eclectic men, and was just beginning to find it when inhumanity and brutality invaded her, snuffing out her weak voice once and for all...
On another point, I have to say I'm very impressed with the way this movie approached deafness. I'm deaf myself, and I know back in the seventies, most deaf schools didn't offer signing/speaking at the same time. They only offered speech classes, with absolutely no signing at all. So far, most deaf schools have broken away from this rule, but with this movie, made in the seventies... I could understand what they were saying without having to read the closed-captioning. I'm very impressed with how smoothly they signed.
But that's not the main reason why I was so taken with this movie. The subtle dialogue blends very well. The bar scene adds to the mystical aura, along with the mood and lighting. But most of all, you find yourself almost wanting to save Theresa from the hell of this grim reality. You find yourself sympathizing and identifying with her confusion, her loneliness, and her brutal desire to be someone else. She was just beginning to find herself when that chance was suddenly taken away.
The ending. My God... the ending... there are no words that can describe it. It chills you to the very core. I have never seen an ending filled with such doom and finality. When the strobe light finally dies out, you find yourself in thick silence, unable to think of a coherent sentence till you finally pull yourself together and begin to make sense of it all. But even so, you can't find a rational solution to this movie. You have to accept it for its graphic reality.
Heart-breaking. I'll never forget this film.
on November 25, 2002
Released in 1977 and based on Judith Rossner's best-seller, "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" was touted as the star turn for Diane Keaton, but it was "Annie Hall" that swept her to the Academy podium that year. A Catholic teacher of deaf children, Keaton's portrayal of a sexually repressed woman looking for scores in all the wrong places is unsettling in an generally inaudacious - and brutal - film. But, the talent that she is, Keaton keeps our attention and is nearly upstaged by Tuesday Weld in an Oscar-nominated supporting role. "Goodbar" takes us to the darker side of casual sexal encounters and issues a warning that we ought not delve too deeply into the darkness without a light on in our brains. The film also marked the first substantial work of Richard Gere and Tom Berenger. But it remains Keaton who carries the film, and she does it splendidly and achieves the intended goal of making us squeamish about the dangerous underpinnings of sexual experimentation. The film's closing scene is harrowing and also achieves its own goal to send the viewer off with an unsoothed boding of doom, and it gives us no hope. Panned critically at the time, the film nonetheless is a showcase of Keaton's dramatic talents, something she'd had little chance to do until then. She alone makes the film worth watching.
on December 27, 2005
I normally don't review movies that haven't been converted to dvd. However, for this Richard Brooks, film adaptation of the Judith Rossner book , based on the true, series of events, in the life of Rosanne Quinn, I'm making an exception. Diane Keaton plays the lead , as Therea Dunn , an attractive, intelligent, independent, sexually curious, young woman who happens to be a school teacher. From it's riveting beginning sequences to it's unforgettable ending," Looking for Mr. Goodbar" exemplifies great directing , acting , and writng. Filmed during a period when American cinema focused on character driven stories and themes..this film stands out as one of the most unforgettable. Originally penned, as a star making vehicle for Diane Keaton, the film highlights unforgettable performances by a series of future stars like Richard Gere, Levar Burton , Tom Berringer, and Tuesday Weld ( in her OSCAR winning performance). Although, "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" was originally released in 1977, it's overall lessons and character journeys are still relatable, today. On that aspect, it ensures this film a long shelf life. Some scenes are dated and the soundtrack is obviously past it's expiration date. However, after the first twenty minutes , you quickly forget that this was produced almost three decades ago.The characters are portrayed so richly and so authentic , that you become sucked into it. I don't see this film as a warning for young barhoppers or sexually liberarated women. Once again...it's based on a true story. So , how can anyone tamper with reality? The film sticks to the book and the book sticks to the actual case, that sparked the interest in the first place. The cinematography and script are excellent and Richard Brooks did a phenominal job, layering circumstances and allowing his actors to go to depths that most actors would shy away from. Personally , I used to think of Diane Keaton as just another pretty actress ( especially in her youth). However , after seeing her performance in this film , I will always consider her just as brave and creative and dedicated to her roles , as her contemperaries(Robert Deniro , Al Pacino, John Voight , Marlon Brando, ect.). If you're a fan of dramatic films, such as "Midnight Cowboy"," The Deer Hunter",or "Boogie Nights", " Looking for Mr. Goodbar" is one that should definately not be missed. I'm not sure why it hasn't been released on dvd, yet. Hopefully, it will, as it deserves to be preserved and recognized as one of the best films of the 1970's.
on May 5, 2004
A very dark film and shocking for the time period 1977 actually it would qualify today as well. Diane Keaton stars as a sexually adventurous teacher from a strict catholic family who escapes the normality in her life by retreating into the sordid vacuous world of New York City's singles bars. She has an affair with her older college professor but that doesn't turn out good so she spends her nights doing cocaine and picking up random guys until one night she picks up the wrong cowboy. Tom Berenger plays a bar hopping drifter and is the final man she brings home. The ending is quite shocking & disturbing, the cinematography and use of light/sound. It would hold up to todays shock value easily. Keep in mind this movie came out in 1977. A story about an insecure woman constantly rebelling, misguided search for love & acceptance who could not come to grips with her estranged relationship with father. In a sense looking for a father figure. One of my favorite dark genre films.
on May 18, 2005
Some of these reviewers (the negative ones) are rather simple-minded as to the entire concept of the film. The one reviewer who mentioned the "cheapness" of the film simply did not get it. The "cheapness" was the entire point of the atmosphere as the allure of Terry's life and how she felt about herself. I watched the film three times and I am not grasping why a few of the reviewers mention how "slow" the film was. There was nothing "slow" about it at all. The point of the beginning was included for the audience to get to know and to care about the character. I am sure that the very same "reviewers" who complained about the "slowness" of the film would have just as well complained if the beginning scenes had not explained the character's story. Some of the reviewers are very mature (and that helps others to decide logically as to whether or not to purchase this film) and some are very childish (which really doesn't help at all in the selection process!).
If you want slasher garbage, rent slasher garbage. This film is for the "thinker" not the "loafer". It is amazing that the negative commentaries are from those who have never really become a screenplay writer or a director of any kind. Most viewers have no idea of what it takes to organize and shoot a film of quality.
Grow up America!!! Not ALL films will be to your liking and they cannot be. It's impossible to please everyone with regards to writing or filmmaking. And to the one reviewer who felt that this film was a "downer": Hello! It was meant to be! It wasn't written for the comedic driven audience. That's why it's called a "Drama". It does not suppose to make you "feel good". Rent 'Sabrina' if you want to "feel good". If you are moody and intense, then, this movie is for audience-types who truly appreciate realistic themes with drama based momentum. It's not called "Looking for Disney's Magic Kingdom" for Pete's sake!! It's not the garbage which is portrayed in the typical mainstream stupidity like "13 going on 30" or anything with J.Lo or the typical Lindsey Lohan/Jennifer Aniston variety~ or anything with those damned twins~ (whom which many of us cannot at all relate to anyway thus the reason that not all films are made for everyone~ I personally wish that there were more films directed and written with a deliberate and thought-provoking style as "Goodbar". I personally am tired of un- original, dull, and silly remakes and rip-offs of other films. It's time to bring back older quality actors and quality story telling as this film demonstrates in very fine realistic style.
What happened to the quality in filmmaking? It's time to bring this back and it's time to stop catering to the simpleton plot crowd. We need better story development writers (like 'Veronica Guerin') and talented actors who are willing to risk the criticism. Cautionary tales are great for the mind. This country needs to be challenged to learn to think more than to be cheaply entertained ALL OF THE TIME.
You will not find another Keaton or another Richard Brooks (director). The gritty reality of loneliness and bedraggled low-self-esteem of the character is part of an art form in this film and in its own way life is imitating art and even vice- versa. This movie is for grown-ups and not for grown adolescents who must have the visual action force at every single moment. The build-up from beginning to end is what brings superiority to this film. If you want a "pick me up" try "comedy"(plenty of it) and if you want an action movie try "action-adventure"(too much of it); if you want to grow up, check this film out!!
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Richard Brooks, 1977)
The experience of watching Looking for Mr. Goodbar is a strange one, if you've read the novel upon which it is based; Richard Brooks has taken Judith Rossner's shockingly direct prose and turned it into a screenplay that combines the worst aspects of psychedelia and disco culture, coming up with a movie that's nightmarish, yet oddly compelling.
Looking for Mr. Goodbar is the story of Theresa Dunn (Diane Keaton), starting with an affair with a college professor, Martin (Manhunt's Alan Feinstein), and then continuing on into her career as a teacher for the deaf, when she gets caught in the middle of two relationships, one with tempestuous cokehead Tony (Richard Gere), the other with solid, dependable James (William Atherton, soon to appear in an adaptation of Jack Ketchum's classic The Girl next Door). Meanwhile, Theresa's also trying to balance being the goody-two-shoes teacher by day and a bad-girl cruiser by night, as well as being the Rock of Gibraltar, as her sister Katherine (Tuesday Weld) calls her, for her smothering family.
It hasn't been long at all since I last read the novel, and I'm trying not to let that affect my judgment where the movie's concerned, but it seemed to me that, despite the necessity of hacking a four-hundred-page book to pieces when turning it into a two-hour screenplay, Brooks (who also adapted the novel) did a fine job of simplifying things while still keeping everything well in order. While a number of memorable scenes have disappeared, the points those scenes conveyed remained, and the characters are as well-developed as they are in the novel.
There's really no other place to mention it, but it needs mentioned: Tom Berenger has a small role here, and it's easy to understand why Hollywood sat up and took notice of the young star. (A teenaged LeVar Burton, ten years before Star Trek: The Next Generation, also has a minor role as the brother of one of Theresa's students.) Add a who's-who of some of the best obscure tunes of the era (including The O'Jays' "Backstabbers," one of the truly great songs of the disco era), and you've got yourself a pretty fine film. It's faded, unjustly, into obscurity these days. Rent a copy and see what you missed the first time around, or rediscover what should be considered a classic by now. ****
on July 27, 2006
Even today, this movie that made a statement on the debauchery of the seventies, is still relevant. The story of a young lady out on her own for the first time, free from her morality preaching catholic dad and hungry to indulge in the night life. A frequenter of the area bar scene, Dianne Keaton in perhaps her sexiest, if not most provocative role hops from dive to dive, man to man in an attempt to whet her insatiable sexual appetite. An interesting, if dark look at the bar scene and all its unpredictability. Directed with a style of its own, and a good eye for character development, "Goodbar" is an excellent film - one of the best of the seventies. It's also one of the most chilling endings of any movie I've ever seen - one that leaves you almost gasping. Much of the subject matter of this film won't have the same shocking effect it had upon it's original release in the mid-seventies. Today's premium cable original programming (eg. "Queer as Folk) make this minor league stuff by comparison. But that doesn't make this movie any less disturbing. This is still a movie that is just as applicable to today's careless adventures into the night life. Tuesday Weld, Tom Berenger, Richard Kiley, Levar Burton and William Atherton ("Die Hard's" pain in the butt news reporter) are perfectly cast and make notable contributions. And Richard Gere in one of his earliest roles gives a performance that surely got him future roles.
on December 16, 2003
On its best level, "Mr. Goodbar" showed the audience how you can be an intelligent, cultured and sensitive person and yet become a tragic figure, a victim of circumstance.
The Keaton character realizes the entity of her own sexual frustration and takes to casual sex as a form of emotional therapy. When she decides it's time to get her act straight, she fails, fatally, to put her experience to fruition: not because it's morally too late for redemption and she must be punished, but simply out of bad luck.
I don't think Brooks had a 'this is what you're going to get if you stray from the straight and narrow' agenda. I have a feeling he was more interested in the intrinsic tragic potential of being human.