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When this film came out I can remember people critiquing the subject
matter: no it is not uplifting, and really not a positive message for a
15 year old girl to watch. (Although today with the trash cranked out
regularly by Paris Hilton, this movie is mild in comparison).
Basically the film deals with Teresa Dunn, a young teacher of deaf children starting out in her NYC apartment. Diane Keaton delivers an excellent, albeit tragic performance. William Atherton as James, the young priest who wants to marry her, is tragic in his own way. He cares for his elderly mother, is old-fashioned, and could probably lift Teresa (Keaton) out of her self-destruction. Tuesday Weld has a brief part as Teresa's sister, a misguided woman who dumps her husband and eventually flies to Puerto Rico to get an abortion.
Richard Kiley as Teresa's Irish Catholic father, tells her she can do as she wishes...is free to ruin her life, or go to hell... (Very good performance of a strict non-accepting father). The other parts of Teresa's life, when she in not teaching, are filled with men, singles bars, Tony LoPanto (well done performance by Richard Gere), Tom Berenger in the final scenes.
The film does follow the book, and scoliosis was mentioned in the Judith Rossner novel. Teresa wanders the NY streets at night, remembering how she had no freedom, and was bed-ridden as a child. Alan Feinstein has a role as her professor, who takes advantage of her desperation. Teresa has a low opinion of herself, so much so that any physical involvement, if only for an hour is acceptable. The abuse from LoPanto (Gere) could only be tolerated by a woman almost obsessed with her own destruction.
That being said, this is an excellent film, but not for everyone. It was written by Judith Rossner based on the true murder of a young single teacher. It was plastered in the headlines for one week, and now people do not remember the story. There is nothing glamorous here, but it is a realistic portrayal of an isolated woman who ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong person.
In 1975 future screenwriter and director and producer Nora Ephron. then an editor at Esquire Magazine suggested to her friend novelist Judith Rossner and idea for an article for the magazine about the brutal murder in early January, 1973 of a school teacher in New York, by a man she had picked up in a bar. Rossner wrote the story but Esquire lawyers rejected it so Rossner turned her story into a best selling novel that was adapted by director Richard Brooks for the 1977 film of the same name Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Rossner reportedly liked Diane Keaton's portrayal of her novel's lead character but didn't like the filmed adaptation of her story. This is a movie about a little girl who has spinal surgery that leaves a disfiguring scar and spends a year in a cast. She is self conscious of her deformity when she grows up but dedicates herself to helping other children so she becomes a school teacher for the deaf. She falls in love with a married man which ultimately leads to a the inevitable dead end but she feels dumped on and used so she takes it upon herself to find not a stable relationship with mutual love but instead she will seek her own one-night-stand boy toys to use and to dump. The meek and mild caring teacher by day becomes the sex and drug and alcohol starved bar-hopping vamp of the night. Richard Brooks who directed such notable films as The Blackboard Jungle, Cat on a hot tin roof, Sweet Bird of youth, Elmer Gantry and In Cold Blood directs Diane Keaton and a great cast in Tuesday Weld, William Atherton, Richard Kiley, Richard Gere, Tom Berenger and LeVar Burton. Keaton in her 8th film had a string of big films in her short career when she made Looking For Mr. Goodbar including Godfather I & II, Sleeper, Play it Again Sam and Love & Death. This was quite a departure from her comedic Woody Allen film roles and her married-to-the mafia roles in the Godfather movies. She won the Golden Globe Best Actress for her role and Tuesday Weld was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Veteran cinematographer William Fraker, who had photographed Rosemary's Baby, Bullit and Paint Your Wagon was also nominated for an Oscar. Good late 70's era bar music that fits in well with the scenes for a soundtrack. I saw this during it's initial theatrical release and only a couple times since. It is dark and disturbing with lot's of symbolism and definitely was not the feel good film of 1977. I would only recommend it with that in mind but I would give it a 9.0 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I came in after a night out last night and sat down and turned the TV on and what was on was the final sequence in this film where Diane Keaton reaches for a knife and the lights are flashing blue and she gets stabbed then pans out on her face when she is lying there dead. Then it ended! I only saw those closing bits but it affected me. But who knows it could have been the drink! I thought i would share that as it is still fresh in my mind. I wish i had seen the whole film because then i would have been able to write the full ten lines that you have to for this comment!!! It was a good night last night just in case you were wondering hehe! There's my ten lines!
I read the book many years ago and I remember it as being quite good, hence the decision to seek out the film at my local video store. The plotline basically concerns a sexually promiscuous young women whose cruising in the New York bar scene in the 1970's for sex without any other type of emotional commitment leads to her demise.The film I think can't make up its mind on the reasons for her behaviour. The film appears to be quite disapproving of the sexually permissive disco/bar scene but then seems to suggest a whole range of reasons , conservative catholic upbringing,childhood illness for her particular behaviour.As someone who was too young to enjoy the sexual revolution of the 1970's I suspect the film is abit disengenuous in its socalled critique. Much of the sleeping around then I suspect , as it is today, is enjoyed by both parties and isn't quite of the desperately and totally emotionally uninvolved as portrayed by Diane Keaton's character cruising the bar scene. The characters both hers and her various male sleeping partners/protagnists don't seem to ring true.They men are by and large all creeps. She does have one suitor whose a half way decent guy, but even he resorts to stalking her and is quite pushy with his demands for her love..Incidentally part of the reason why the film doesn't quite ring true for me, is that such a attractive, articulate and successful young women would link up with such a disfunctional losers...even if she was only after casual affairs she seems to be slumming it with this lot... However critical I might seem, the film is worth seeking out..It is an interesting time-piece.Having been shot in the same year it was set it does have that seventies feel via locations,scenes and references that give it a real time capsule attitude. Richard Gere gives a performance of incendiary menace as a petty crim lover to the Diane Keaton character. The final scene where the teacher meets her demise is creatively shot via use of strobe lighting, and I loved the title montage of the film which is strangely haunting black and white stills of the film yet to be shown over the disco soundtrack which works suprisingly well...oh one more brickbat , probably more to do again with the attitudes of the time, the gay characters are shown as hysterical disfunctionals and her final nemesis is a psycopathic kept young man of an aging queen from the disco scene - though to be fair to the film most of the characters straight or gay are kinda screwed up. In summation an interesting failure,
Diane Keaton's brilliance cannot save this dark, depressing venture into
'70s hedonism laced with comically cliched Catholic guilt. While she turns
in what may be her most powerful performance, the characters in her
are one-note, laughingstock caricatures.
The deaf girl, Amy, cannot act. When Keaton happily announces they are having a memorable afternoon, it becomes painfully ironic when Amy cannot even muster a smile in agreement. Katherine, Theresa's glamorous sister, is wildly over the top, the "look at me; I'm such a bad, bad girl" neurotic drama queen who will make you leave a party. The other Dunns are a pathetic parade of stereotypes right down to the boozing, Virgin Mary statuette and Notre Dame jacket. Not all people who happen to be Irish-Catholic are so repugnant.
The major flaw, though, is lack of sympathy for Theresa. James is a decent man, so she's not drawn to his sensitivity, kindness and intelligence. Instead she prefers Tony, who is stupid, and Gary, who is evil. It is difficult to like a heroine who is so obviously driven toward self-annihilation.
If judged by her choices in men, Theresa hates herself more than she ever does her oppressive family. While what happens to her should never happen to anyone, Theresa is not a blameless victim; but rather a willing accessory to her own doomed and sordid fate.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoiler Alert- for those who have never seen this movie,read below only if
Diane Keaton stars as an elementary school teacher who is obviously bored with her life so she decides to go out and join the bar scene of the 70's.She goes out to bars looking for action and even pretending to act cool with a drug dealer she doesnt know who gives her cocaine. She goes to gay bars ,does drugs without knowing what the hell she is getting herself into. She hangs out with Richard Gere who is a real creep and finally gets rid of him but she still cannot live without going out to bars . She lives in a cockroach infested apt in NYC and even in one scene she answers the door and opens it without even bothering to see who it is .It ends up being here friends who scare the hell out of her but it could have been a mugger,.
This is a very disturbing movie about one womans journey into the seedy bar scene of 1970's NYC. The bars she goes into are either gay or drug dealer hangouts ,she never goes anywhere halfway decent or for that matter safe. She also marches in a gay pride parade all drunked up and only her being a women saves her from violence,Tom Berenger plays a psychotic gay man who cannot accept the fact that hes gay.The last part of the movie has him telling his gay lover to get lost and he ends up in a bar where he almost beats up a gay guy who flirts with him. Then in comes Diane Keaton who just picks him up and takes him home New Years Eve.Now you know hes not going to get into her sexually and he tries to avoid having sex with her and she tells him to leave and he freaks out on her thinking the reason is that she knows hes gay ,noone trys to help her as she screams because she had locked her door with a chain.The writers really wrote her character well,I know that there are people exactly like Dianes Keatons character out there as I have met alot of them .She was very nieve,not smart and she paid for it with her life.This movie probably happened in real life to lots of people ,i mean lots of men and women got drawn into the bar scene of sex and drugs in the 70's and thats all they lived for.Some people still have no life outside the bars. Also regarding a previous comment made about the scene in which she is being stabbed and murdered.She is not getting into it and moaning ,he sodomizes her and at the same time starts stabbing her repeatedly.What you hear at first is her in pain from being sodomized and then her gasping as she is strangled and stabbed.It was a very shocking scene and it ends with her being left there to die. Not for the squeemish , disturbing and gripping.
This has got to be one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen! It totally creeped me out. I think I must have missed the point they were trying to get across because it went right over my head. It didn't really make sense and it seemed like the scenes were just pasted together in any random order. I only watched it because I enjoy Diane Keaton and she was good in it I guess but her character was so annoying!I have to say the only parts of the movie I liked were when she was teaching the kids! They were so cute! So there was just something about it that made it very confusing. It just seemed that all of a sudden she was this huge drug addict. And what was with the ending? It ended so abruptly. That was the most disturbing part of the whole movie though. I have to say Richard Gere did look pretty hot in this too! And how cute was LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow??? So I would not recomend this to anyone unless you want to be totally confused .
When I first saw this movie, I thought it was powerfully acted, and I still
think that Diane Keaton won her Oscar for Annie Hall in part because this
movie showed her in a completely different light.
Still, as I grow older, I have far less respect for the film. It is gratuitously nihilistic, and the great angst I saw in it 20 years ago now appears to be a bunch of cheap manipulation of the audience. We may have started with sympathy for the lead character, but she only has self-pity and anger. People like that really are quite dangerous to be around in real life.
Certainly no masterpiece, but an important & relevant film-- Keaton is always worth watching, & the director does an excellent job of making discos & nightlife seem dreary & meaningless...
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) Dir: Richard Brooks After a couple of turkeys, Keaton returns in 1977 with this classic chiller. She plays a school teacher by day and a good-time, wanna party, let's do the single bar crawl girl at night. Along the way she meets Richard Gere and that's when things really start to get out of control. Keaton went against type with this role and gained considerable prestige as a "serious" actress. Looking for love in all the wrong places. Though the movie is somewhat dated, the surprise ending is still a shocker.
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