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Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)

R  |   |  Drama  |  13 March 1978 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 4,916 users  
Reviews: 93 user | 16 critic

A dedicated schoolteacher spends her nights cruising bars, looking for abusive men with whom she can engage in progressively violent sexual encounters.



(based on the novel by), (written for the screen by)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Dunn
Laurie Prange ...
Julius Harris ...
Black Cat
Richard Bright ...
Cap Jackson
Marilyn Coleman ...
Mrs. Jackson
Carole Mallory ...


Theresa is a successful teacher of deaf children during the day but after a short unhappy affair starts to spend her nights cruising bars. Her craving first for sex but later also for drugs leads into increasingly demeaning and dangerous situations completely at odds with her daytime commitment to her children. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 March 1978 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Buscando a Mr. Goodbar  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$16,900,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of two feature films that actress Diane Keaton starred in in 1977. The other film was Annie Hall (1977) for which Keaton won the Best Actress Academy Award. Keaton was not Oscar nominated for her performance in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977). The movie did receive two Oscar noms though, for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Tuesday Weld) and Best Cinematography (William A. Fraker) but failed to win either. See more »


In the book, Theresa's sister Katherine goes to Puerto Rico to procure an abortion during a scene that takes place in the mid-1960s. In the movie, the timeline is changed so that this scene is set in 1975, two years after abortion was legalized by the Roe v. Wade ruling, making the trip to Puerto Rico unnecessary. See more »


Theresa: First thing, on with the tv. Next - nothing. Just sit there on the bed watching the porno movie, I honest to God expect he's going to bring out a bag of popcorn. Finally, the big moment. He doesn't even take off his pants. And all the time he's doing it to me, he's watching them do it on tv.
See more »


References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »


Don't Leave Me This Way
Written by Kenny Gamble (uncredited), Leon Huff (uncredited), Cary Gilbert (uncredited)
Performed by Thelma Houston
Courtesy of Motown Records
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User Reviews

Cautionary tale holds up over time
31 March 2001 | by (Seattle, washington) – See all my reviews

Few viewers can deny the impact of this film – on the '77 crowd and generations afterwards. As a curious 8-year-old up late watching HBO, I never forgot the story or the lesson. Based on a true story, Richard Brooks astutely translated Judith Rossner's best-selling novel to screen, choosing a luminous Diane Keaton, hot off `Annie Hall' and `The Godfather' to play Theresa Dunn, an up-and-coming Richard Gere, a quirky Tuesday Weld , and amazing Richard Kiley as Dunn, the overbearing Irish-Catholic father. The misogynistic Richard Atherton and an ominous Tom Berenger rounds out the solid cast.

Neither traditionally beautiful like her stewardess sister, Katherine or a baby factory like her other sister living at home with her, Theresa is the odd one out, the sister who is searching for approval from a father who barely acknowledges her existence. Childhood traumas mold her and make the fact that Theresa allows herself to be strong and fallible all the more powerful and endearing.

Tired of her father's unyielding rule, Theresa moves into the apartment building owned by Katherine's next attempt at a husband. As the women's freedom movement is underway, Theresa is caught in the position of questioning the traditional roles for women, roles against a new woman in control of her body and her sexuality. By day she teaches at a school for the deaf. By night her nightly jaunts into New York's seamier nightlife scene, expose the dichotomy of being a professional woman by day who must maintain credibility and responsibility, especially with young children while trying to be sexually active, experimental and suffering the stigma attached to both – as whore and as a free woman – wanting purely physical experiences much the same as men, yet realizing the label is different.

Throughout this film, Brooks explores Theresa's perpetual search for acceptance by men but a need to maintain her own identity. From a failed affair with a Prof. she was a TA to, to her fling with Tony, a local hustler, Theresa is perpetually in question of her sexuality and her allure for men, making poor choices in her partners only to endure their violence and possessiveness - much like her father. That she meets up with a homicidal drifter the New Year's Eve night she has decided to quit drugs and cruising, is the irony of her self-discovery.

The only positive male in her life appears to be is LaVar Burton's character, Cap Jackson, –the sullen brother of one of Theresa's students. He is the only male presence in the movie that is not malevolent or trying to extract something from Theresa and during her altercation with Tony at the school, he is the only person to defend and protect her.

While the scare of AIDS stole later generations' promiscuity, this tale still resonates for viewers, especially for women on their own, looking for intimacy yet craving isolation.

While the ending tends to drag with one too many drug scenes the movie still packs a wallop for a finale.

25 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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