Remember when you were young and wished that you could go out and celebrate New Year's Eve like your parents? The best part of having a babysitter was that you could actually stay up until midnight and maybe clang some pots and pans together at the stroke of twelve.
What The Poseidon Adventure did for New Year's cruises, Looking for Mr. Goodbar (basedon a true story) did the same for singles looking for love in all the wrong places. Namely the singles bars.
Beginning near the Christmas holiday, Theresa Dunn (Diane Keaton) is months away from graduating college when she begins an affair with her professor Martin Engle (Alan Feinstein). She also works for him as his assistant and one day after class she tries to seduce him and eventually loses her virginity.
When she gets home later that day, her stewardess sister Katherine (Tuesday Weld) is knocking back airline sized bottles of booze as she's in the middle of a breakdown. She tells Theresa that she's heading to Pureto Rico to have an abortion since she doesn't know who the father of her baby is.
A few minutes before midnight on New Year's Eve, Katherine calls the house and tells Theresa that she's gotten remarried to a man she just met and after hanging up, she makes a bold move and calls Martin to wish him a Happy New Year, but his wife picks up the other extension.
When the two see each other again, he argues with her about her actions and tells her that he's not going to leave his wife for her, but she doesn't seem to care as she seduces him again.
With school over, she hopes to continue the affair, but he's moved on to another student and goes over to Katherine's apartment on a whim.
She doesn't know that Katherine and her husband Barney (Joel Fabiani) are swingers and after getting drunk/high she heads home the next morning where her father (Richard Kiley) accuses her of everything underr the sun. At that moment, she moves out of the house and into a vacant apartment in the building that Barney's bought. Katherine assures their father that she'll keep an eye on her.
Theresa begins her summer teaching job (for deaf students) and at the end of the summer, she meets welfare worker James (William Atherton) who has taken an interest in her.
She's not interested in him but is very interested in Tony (Richard Gere) a two bit hustler who loves the women and leaves them.
After their first sexual encounter, Theresa is intrigued with him yet is frightened by him. She finds the danger exciting as she's never picked up a man at the bar and while he treats her like dirt, he becomes a dominant force in her life.
Whatever he wants he knows that he can get it out of her.
Tony begins to stand her up and she eventually finds herself going out with James (her father loves him and in his eyes, he can do no wrong) and while she's just passing time with him, she begins to be drawn into the singles and drug scene.
As she continues to bar hop, she meets a variety of men with the hope of running into Tony and when she tells him to get lost one night after breaking into her apartment he calls the police on her and she loses her job.
On New Year's Eve, Katherine invites her to a costume party and she turns her down since she wants to get her life back on track. She decides to go out one last time.
What she doesn't know is that she'll be running into Martin and also meets Gary (Tom Berenger) an ex-con, who's been living off of Arthur (Alexander Courtney) a gay man that he met when he came to town.
Gary is beaten up at a gay parade and tells Arthur that he's leaving him and ends up at the bar where Theresa's at. She sidles up to him because she's being stalked by James and eventually the two go back to her apartment for a nightcap.
When he can't perform he takes his rage out on her (like many of the men in the film) and leaves her dying in her apartment as a strobe light slowly dies.
Of course when the movie came out it was controversial and its also a cautionary tale of what still happens today when a casual hookup can go wrong.
The movie is exceptional and also earned two Academy Award nominations (one of those for Weld) and no matter how many times you watch this movie, you always hope that the ending will change and that Theresa would have gotten her life in order.
It's also a good reminder for us to look back at some of the stupid and dangerous situations that we've put ourselves in.