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« Review: Jason Bourne | Main | Pete's Dragon - 1977 and Now »
Friday
Jul292016

HMWYBS: A Sensational Diane Keaton in "Looking for Mr Goodbar" 

Best Shot 1977 Party. Chapter 3
Looking for Mr Goodbar (1977)
Directed by: Richard Brooks
Cinematography by: William A Fraker

Finally with chapter 3 in our look back at the Cinematography nominees of 1977 -- a little prep work for the Supporting Actress Smackdown (last day to get your ballots in) -- a real threat to Close Encounter of the Third Kind for the Best Cinematography crown. Close Encounters won the Oscar, its sole competitive Oscar, but William A Fraker was more than worthy as a nominee for his evocative experimental work on Looking for Mr Goodbar. The cinematography (along with its swinging partner, the editing) are ready and able to capture the whirlwind moods, liberated momentum, self-deprecating humor, and multiple flashes of fear within this time capsule of the sexual revolution.

My only regret in showcasing the cinematography for this series is that good images are hard to come by. More (a little bit NSFW) after the jump...

Despite its key position as a famous 1970s picture, a fascinating period window into a singular time in American culture, two Oscar nominations, and the fact that it contains one of the all time great performances from an indisputably legendary actor (Diane Keaton), Paramount doesn't seem to value it. They have not made the film available on DVD OR BluRay OR any streaming service that we're aware of; you can't even give them money to watch it! The only way to see it, apart from very expensive out of print copies that won't work on many platforms, is on YouTube. TFE has always had a strict "no piracy" policy but the studios don't make this easy. In those increasingly non-rare instances (sigh) when studios neglect their classics and don't even give you the opportunity to purchase them, see the pictures however you're able. In these unfortunate circumstances only, piracy is is its own defiant act of preservation. 

*NYC readers take note: The Metrograph will be screening Looking for Mr Goodbar in August. It's rarely screened so make time.  

Nathaniel's 10 Favorite Leading Actress Turns of the 1970s
Jane Fonda, Klute (1971)
Liza Minnelli, Cabaret (1972)
Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were (1973)
Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adele H (1975)
Faye Dunaway, Network (1976)
Sissy Spacek, Carrie (1976)
Shelley Duvall, Three Women (1977)
Diane Keaton, Annie Hall, (1977)
Diane Keaton, Looking for Mr Goodbar (1977)
Geraldine Page, Interiors (1978)

But back to the hot picture.

The director Richard Brooks was never one to shy away from sexually provocative material. Standards of the time and the Hayes Code surely got in the way of his renditions of both Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) but the desire was clearly there to illuminate charged libidos, sexual confusion, and the shackles of both conservative morality and wanton desire. The 1970s appear to have freed him up. The picture is so good that if you shut the movie off when Diane Keaton's Theresa announces on New Year's Eve that her night life is starting to interfere with her day life, you might be convinced that you've seen a masterpiece character study mixed with a charged and fascinating take on the libidinous 1970s. Unfortunately the last 15 minutes nearly ruin the movie with an atypical and totally nutso homophobic subplot that found an dishonorable home in the book and documentary The Celluloid Closet.  That plus the denouement essentially punishes the liberated woman. So the more cinema changes the more it stays the same. Liberation has yet to come.  But that's too large of a topic, and not even remotely our topic today.

Before my choices, take a look at those four gifs below. They're all images I considered and fine examples of the movie's skill with imagery that really pops: a doctor kissing Therese's breasts (they both wink) in a fantasy sequence; a pornographic glass mobile she perversely takes a fancy too, essentially claiming it's "exactly like me"; Therese learning her sexual power with her first wholly unsuitable married lover; and a terrific bit from the movie's best wordless sequence when Therese rushes down into the subway, reeling from a sexual relationship gone sour, only to be confronted by the image of a nun blocking her planned escape. It's a blunt reminder of the Catholic guilt her father is always wishing she'd feel. 

 

Is the latter image too blunt, too on the nose?

Sure... but Therese wants everything as close to her body as possible. (Especially Richard Gere and all his parts in his breakthrough role.)

 

Anyway... these are three images I was most drawn to this time.

BronzeSilver

GoldAll three are much stronger in motion (which is why I wish I could make my own gifs from a good print) and fine examples of the movie's chief strengths. The first we'll call our "Character Study" - it's Therese on the subway platform, the rushing train as her own meditation and wind machine, before the visual of the nun provides a rude awakening. The second we'll call our "Sexual Impulse" as Therese's favorite lay Tony (Richard Gere), notices the scar on her lower back that the film obsesses over. The image in motion is horny with a hint of violence, much like the movie, but also surprisingly tender and the most wholly pleasurable of the movie's many sex scenes. The third, and 'Best Shot,' at least in this particular moment is our "Curious Whimsy" which, for all of Therese's rage about restrictive expectations of her womanhood, the movie has a lot of. The shot starts wider, at first showing us a roomful of swingers including her sister Katherine (Tuesday Weld) and Therese joins them (while also keeping her distance) -- she's more fascinated by the dirty movie screening than the room of actual soon-to-be-naked bodies. We're watching an actress in her prime starring as a character in a racy movie who is watching a porno movie. Innocent carnality glides all over her face until Therese has moved from nervous and wary of the room to bemused and horny, as fascinated by what she's watching as any sane human being would be while watching Diane Keaton in this masterclass performance. 

BEST SHOT 77 - WANT MORE?

Here are other articles from this weeklong party celebrating the Films of 1977:

Film Mix Tape on insidious notions of "the perfect woman" via Looking for Mr Goodbar
Film Mix Tape gets personal with The Turning Point - must read!
Dancin Dan on Film gazes at Julia
Timothy Brayton on the entire category in one ginormous posting
• Christian Bonamusa loves the hats in Julia and the aftermath in The Turning Point
• Film Mix Tape looks at both Islands in the Stream and Close Encounters 
• Rachel's Reviews looks at Close Encounters 

Up Next:We'll wrap up with Close Encounters  & Julia

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Reader Comments (39)

Weld in this WOW a deserving nominee and too long in coming for this underrated lady.

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Great piece, Nathaniel, and I love Diane Keaton as an actor, and so I must see this.

I also liked your top ten leading female performances of the 1970s - very close to mine, though I would have to find room for Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Sondrs Locke in The Gauntlet.

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Could you please put that top 10 in order? Or at least say who's number one? Let me guess... Liza?

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Cal -- that top ten is not in order. I don't think i could do an order. not even remotely. what a decade. i mean the 70s were ridiculous. it was hard enough to leave out some people from the list above.

July 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This movie is so striking, and on first watch I wondered if that finale was actually an inspiration for parts of "Fire Walk with Me".

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

Dave S -- ooh good call. I could totally see that.

July 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Great choices, I particularly like the bronze winner.

I was actually able to watch this last week on TCM, the print was in good condition too. It was a premiere for them, part of a series on 70's cinema and because of the content it was a late night deal but with the DVR that was easy enough. So perhaps it will show up there again more frequently now.

Can't say I loved the film, it does stay true to the spirit of the book but it's very seamy. Diane Keaton was great in it, something so radically different from her established onscreen persona.

My top 10 female performances of the 70's:

Barbra Streisand-The Way We Were
Faye Dunaway-Chinatown
Barbra Streisand-What's Up, Doc?
Gena Rowlands-A Woman Under the Influence
Sally Field-Norma Rae
Bette Midler-The Rose
Isabelle Adjani-The Story of Adele H.
Jane Fonda-Klute
Ingrid Bergman-Autumn Sonata
Tuesday Weld-Play It As it Lays

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Goodbar is my favorite Keaton performance.

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Great choices! Diane ... she is truly a revelation here. Not only one of my favorite lead actress performances of the 1970s but it's in my all-time top 10.

Speaking of the '70s: My Dynamic Dozen (presented alphabetically)...

Diahann Carroll, Claudine
Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman
Faye Dunaway, Network
Sally Field, Norma Rae
Louise Fletcher, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
Diane Keaton, Looking For Mr. Goodbar
Marsha Mason, The Goodbye Girl
Bette Midler, The Rose
Diana Ross, Lady Sings The Blues
Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence
Sissy Spacek, Carrie
Barbra Streisand, What's Up, Doc?

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNewMoonSon

My 10 Favorites of the 70's -Lead Female (chronological)
SARAH MILES "Ryan's Daughter"
TWIGGY "The Boy Friend"
DIANE KEATON "Play It Again Sam"
SARAH MILES "Lady Caroline Lamb"
SYLVIA MILES "Heat"
VERA MILES "Molly and Lawless John"
ELIZABETH TAYLOR "Ash Wednesday"
GENEVIEVE BUJOLD "Obsession'
DIANE KEATON "Annie Hall"
INGRID BERGMAN "Autumn Sonata"

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKen

I really wanted to watch this again this week but YouTube in Germany isn't playing along.

'70s Top 10 (today):

Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adele H
Geneviève Bujold, Anne of the Thousand Days
Faye Dunaway, Chinatown
Glenda Jackson, Hedda
Diane Keaton, Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Liza Minnelli, New York, New York
Diana Ross, Lady Sings the Blues
Romy Schneider, That Most Important Thing: Love
Hanna Schygulla, The Marriage of Maria Braun
Cicely Tyson, Sounder

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Brooks didn't get a lot of credit for this -- the critics were unkind. But he does a great job of creating a suffocating, grimy atmosphere. Diane blew everyone away with an astonishing about-face in this movie. Besides just brilliant acting, her innate likability engenders a lot of sympathy for this character, and gets the viewer going through some pretty rough emotional terrain. This was the feel-bad movie of 1977.


top 10 female performances of the 70s:

Diane Keaton, Annie Hall, (1977)
Diane Keaton, Looking for Mr Goodbar (1977)
Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Marsha Mason, The Goodbye Girl (1977)
Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist (1973)
Jane Fonda, Klute (1971)
Liza Minnelli, Cabaret (1972)
Faye Dunaway, Network (1976)
Julie Christie, Don’t Look Now (1973)
Julie Andrews, Darling Lili (1970)

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Dennehy is so sexy in his cameo. Having a self-loathing gay character as her murderer is unfair to the audience. There's a lot going on with this movie and I wish they would have pared it down in the screenplay. I love the sister character. She reads as both contemporary and classic. All the school teacher material was spot on. But the bar stuff and the sex scenes are pretty badly staged. America is too puritanical of a country to tell stories about human sexuality which does not carry a disdain for human sexuality. Thank God for European cinema where nudity and sexuality are as natural as air and water.

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

My top ten leading ladies of the '70s:

Liza Minnelli, Cabaret
Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist
Faye Dunaway, Chinatown
Isabelle Adjani, L'Histoire d'Adèle H.
Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Diane Keaton, Love and Death
Faye Dunaway, Network
Diane Keaton, Annie Hall
Sondra Locke, The Gauntlet
Nastassja Kinski, Tess

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Liv Ullmann, Face to Face
Liv Ullmann, Scenes from a Marriage
Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence
Ann-Margaret, Tommy
Faye Dunaway, Network
Charlotte Rampling, The Night Porter
Liv Ullmann, The Emigrants/The New Land
Ingrid Bergman & Liv Ullmann, Autumn Sonata
Diane Keaton, Annie Hall
Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Top 10, in order

1 Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under The Influence - the best performance of all time, in any country, both genders
2 Liv Ullmann, Autumn Sonata -love I.Bergman, but that's the most searing performance of that movie, and a career-best of an actress who had a magnificent decade. I could put Scenes of a Marriage here, but it works way better as a TV 6-hour long miniseries than a condensed movie.
3 Gena Rowlands, Opening Night - devastating and extremely specific. She could have played Mabel all over again, but she decides to go for diva-like artificiality instead of rawness. Incredible.
4 Romy Schneider, That Most Important Thing: Love - the best close-up I have ever seen, and it's only the first scene.
5 Jane Fonda, Klute - the most intimidating actress ever deconstructing herself.
6 Liza Minnelli, Cabaret - how to make despair incredibly entertaining.
7 Isabelle Adjani, The Story of Adele H. - I feel like I am picking only INTENSE performances, but that was the decade of INTENSE.
8 Faye Dunaway, Chinatown - Ok, now for something subtle. So many things happening behind those eyes of this anti femme fatale.
9 Julie Christie, McCabe & Mrs. Miller - another puzzling and enigmatic performance, but in the end you don't get the reward of getting to know her. A fabulous sphynx.
10 Tatum O'Neal, Paper Moon - intelligent, natural, adorable, flawless

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

10+ favorite female lead performances of the 70:
Francoise Fabian "My Night at Maud's"
Sarah Miles "Ryan's Daughter"
Glenda Jackson "Sunday, Bloody Sunday"
Lea Massari "Murmur of the Heart"
Liv Ullmann "The Emigrants/The New Land"
Cicely Tyson "Sounder"
Mari Toeroecik "Love"
Faye Dunaway "Chinatown"
Sissy Spacek "Carrie"
Jane Fonda "Julia"

Louise Fletcher in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is not eligible because I consider it to be Supporting and her otherwise deserving performance an example of category fraud.

And Liv Ullmann is actress of the decade (no contest) for her performances above and various Bergman collaborations.

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

Diane Keaton is perfect. Tuesday Weld manages to build a compelling side character. Richard Gere is unbelievable, although not, maybe, good.
And Looking for Mr. Goodbar appalled me. Yet I look forward to one day seeing it again.

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

nathaniel, great article and nice to see this troubling movie praised for the terrific things it does accomplish. keaton is astonishing...why don't we talk about her more on this site? and your 70s actress list...those are all killer. what a decade! adjani!

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Really? No Rowlands? I'd call her performance in "A Woman under the Influence" one of the best in ANY decade.

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

BVR -- i've actually never seen that one (my single biggest gap in seventies actressing) but she was just a few spots outside this top ten list for OPENING NIGHT, which is (at least for now) my favorite of her performances.

July 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel -- That's right, I think I remember you saying once that Rowlands was one of the few major actresses you hadn't seen much of. I envy you because there's so much great actressing you have yet to discover. I haven't seen OPENING NIGHT, but I ordered it on Netflix as a companion with ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, since I hear it inspired Almodovar.

Also, thanks for that Top 10 List. I just put LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, THE STORY OF ADELE H, and KULTE on my queue.

July 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

My top 10 Female leading performances of the 1970's

Diane Keaton - Annie Hall
Geraldine Page - Interiors
Jane Fonda - Klute
Joanne Woodward - Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams
Liv Ullmann - Face to Face
Diana Ross - Lady Sings the Blues
Liv Ullmann - The Emigrants
Diane Keaton - Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Geraldine Page - The Beguiled
Ellen Burstyn - Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

joel6,

I have been trying to find a copy of Tuesday Weld in Play It As It Lays for decades!!!

Where on earth have you seen it?

Weld was sooooo wonderful in Pretty Poison, and should have had the Oscar for Goodbar, but Redgrave was placed in supporting in one of the more shady instances of category fraud.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Will definitely see this movie soon.
My own top 10 leading actress performances of the '70s: (God we do love lists a lot right)
1. Gena Rowlands - A Woman Under the Influence (THE best acting performance ever imo)
2. Faye Dunaway - Network
3. Diane Keaton - Annie Hall
4. Sissy Spacek - Carrie
5. Ingrid Bergman - Autumn Sonata
6. Isabelle Adjani - The Story of Adele H.
7. Liza Minelli - Cabaret
8. Jane Fonda - Klute
9. Liv Ullmann - Face to Face
10. Ellen Burstyn - The Exorcist (So overrated. She should have won the Oscar for this role)

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

LOL that was supposed to say that Burstyn is UNDERRATED in The Exorcist. Wishing the best for her at the Emmys too. She's fiercely heartbreaking as Robin Wright's mom.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

omg, how can you not have seen a woman under the influence? that is one of the must see before you die films or must see if you wanna live films ever. gena was just the best and her performance in that film was my favorite female performance ever on film.
A Woman Under the Influence (1974) - Gena Rowlands
Scener ur ett äktenskap [Scenes From a Marriage] (1973) - Liv Ullmann
Angst essen Seele auf [Fear Eats the Soul] (1974) - Brigitte Mira
L' histoire d'Adèle H. [The Story of Adele H] (1975) - Isabelle Adjani
Network (1976) - Faye Dunaway
Carrie (1976) - Sissy Spacek
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) - Diane Keaton
Annie Hall (1977) - Diane Keaton
Höstsonaten [Autumn Sonata] (1978) - Ingrid Bergman
Alien (1979) - Sigourney Weaver

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermcv

I wish you couldve posted a screencap of Tuesday Weld's closeup in this movie (cos I couldnt find any in the web). Or its best cinematographic scene that made it earn an Oscar nomination. Sigh.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMyke

@ Myke
I think we"ll get some Weld shots with the Smackdown.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Is it ok to say I am not a Rowlands fan and dislike her Awuti performance.

Valerie Perrine in Lenny ismy 74 winner..

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

@mark as Glenn Close once said: WAR

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Mark - you are not alone

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterken s

i can't with this sacrilege.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermcv

Me neither. Facepalm

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I think it's a widely misguided performance,unsympathetic,histrionic,what's up with Gena in this,did no one reign her in,what do people think of Karherine Cassavettes in this film.

Love her in Another Woman and Gloria and Unhook The Stars.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Patryk,

I saw Play It As It Lays on that beacon of light for all classic movie fans, TCM. It was a day they devoted to Tuesday's work.

So not only did you get some of her best work like PIAIL, A Safe Place, Pretty Poison and Lord Love a Duck but some more of her outre early titles such as Because They're Young with Dick Clark as a high school teacher, Rock, Rock, Rock and the ultimate WTF drive-in musical Sex Kittens Go to College with Mamie Van Doren as a college professor!

Play It is something of a tough watch, it's very 70's stream of consciousness film making but Tuesday is riveting.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

@Mark I've never quite understood the Gena Rowlands worship, either. She does her own thing - and it's sometimes effective. But I'd certainly never put her in the class of a genius like, say, Ellen Burstyn. As far as "A Woman Under the Influence" goes, I remember being very impressed by Katherine Cassevetes. She was also aces in "Minnie and Moscowitz". I always thought Peter Falk's performance in "Woman" was pretty much perfection.

Re Tuesday Weld: What a wonder she was right from the get-go! Already uniquely and delightfully herself in the no-budget rock'n'roll quickie, "Rock, Rock,Rock". Then spinning gold out of nothing as a boy-crazy teen in "Rally Round the Flag Boys". She even manages to be brilliant in an Elvis picture ("Wild in the Country"). As the 60's progressed her appearances were sadly intermittent. But she lit up the screen when she did appear - especially in "The Cincinnati Kid", "Pretty Poison" and "Soldier in the Rain" (maybe her finest work - though the rest of the picture's nowhere near her level). She supposedly turned down "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Rosemary;s Baby". And though the ladies that played those roles did beautifully, I expect Weld would have been pretty tremendous in them. In her peak years, no one came close to communicating that level of feral, fascinating quirkiness. Her distinctively disciplined unpredictability was unique - and remains thrilling all these years later. And - on top of all that - what a beauty!.

July 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKen

If you have the KODI system, you can find this film on Exodus.

It's still a rather lurid, ugly film, but it really is an amazing performance by Keaton, especially in comparison with Annie Hall.

That's a very young Brian Dennehy winking at Diane in the .GIF above.

Richard Gere is not my type at all, but he just exudes SEX.

July 31, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

the best shot in the film is the last one. it is haunting. i was pleased with how loyal the film is to the book. it is really a brutal storytelling and does not hold back.

July 31, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermcv

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