The Info List - Desperately Seeking Susan

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Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
is a 1985 American comedy-drama film directed by Susan Seidelman and starring Rosanna Arquette
Rosanna Arquette
and Madonna. Set in New York, the plot involves the interaction between two women – a bored housewife and a bohemian drifter – linked by various announcements in the personal column of a newspaper. This was Madonna’s first major screen role and the film also provided early roles for a number of other well-known performers, such as John Turturro, Laurie Metcalf, Aidan Quinn
Aidan Quinn
and Steven Wright. The New York Times
The New York Times
named the film as one of the 10 best films of 1985.


1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Critical reception 4 Soundtrack

4.1 Track listing

5 Production 6 Stage musical 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

Plot[edit] Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) is an unfulfilled suburban housewife living in Fort Lee, New Jersey, who is fascinated with a woman she only knows about by reading messages to and from her in the personals section of a New York City
New York City
tabloid. This fascination reaches a peak when an ad with the headline "Desperately Seeking Susan" seeks a rendezvous in Battery Park with the man who regularly seeks her (i.e., Jim, played by Robert Joy). Roberta goes to Battery Park, too, sees the woman (Madonna), and in a series of events involving mistaken identity, amnesia, and other farcical elements, Roberta goes from voyeur to participant in an Alice in Wonderland–style plot, ostensibly motivated by the search for a pair of stolen Egyptian earrings. With both of them trying to locate Roberta, her husband Gary (Mark Blum) encounters the wild Susan. Cast[edit]

Rosanna Arquette
Rosanna Arquette
as Roberta Glass Madonna as Susan Thomas Aidan Quinn
Aidan Quinn
as Dez Mark Blum
Mark Blum
as Gary Glass, Roberta's husband Robert Joy as Jim Dandy, Susan's boyfriend Laurie Metcalf
Laurie Metcalf
as Leslie Glass, Roberta's sister-in law Anna Levine as Crystal Will Patton
Will Patton
as Wayne Nolan Peter Maloney as Ian the magician Steven Wright
Steven Wright
as Larry Stillman D.D.S. John Turturro
John Turturro
as Ray, the master of ceremonies at the Magic Club Anne Carlisle
Anne Carlisle
as Victoria Jose Santana
Jose Santana
as Boutique Owner Giancarlo Esposito
Giancarlo Esposito
as Street Vendor Richard Hell
Richard Hell
as Bruce Meeker Rockets Redglare as Taxi Driver Annie Golden as Band Singer Richard Edson
Richard Edson
as Man with Newspapers Ann Magnuson
Ann Magnuson
as Cigarette Girl John Lurie
John Lurie
as Neighbor Saxophonist Victor Argo as Sgt. Taskal Shirley Stoler as Jail Matron Arto Lindsay
Arto Lindsay
as Newspaper Clerk Kim Chan as Park Bum Michael Badalucco as Guy from Brooklyn Carol Leifer
Carol Leifer
as Party Guest

Critical reception[edit] The film holds an 85% "Fresh" rating at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 26 reviews.[2] In her review for The New Yorker, critic Pauline Kael
Pauline Kael
praised Madonna's performance as "an indolent, trampy goddess."[3][4] The New York Times
The New York Times
film critic Vincent Canby
Vincent Canby
named the film as one of the 10 best films of 1985.[5] Rosanna Arquette
Rosanna Arquette
won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Roberta; the fact that the award was for a "supporting role" reflected the surge in popularity that Madonna was experiencing at the time, since in terms of billing, number of scenes, lines of dialogue, and the plot, Arquette was the film's lead. She was nominated for a Golden Globe
Golden Globe
for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. Madonna also received positive reviews for her portrayal of Susan.[6] Soundtrack[edit] The soundtrack was released on both vinyl and CD together with the soundtrack to the film Making Mr. Right. The soundtrack does not feature any of the other songs in the film including Madonna's "Into the Groove" which can be found on the European 1985 re-release of her Like a Virgin album. The film captures the feel of the underground Bohemian/new wave scene of the early to mid-1980s New York City, a scene that in real life helped Madonna get her big break in the music business. Madonna recorded a song for the movie, titled "Desperately Seeking Susan". It ended up not being used in the film, and a demo she just finished at the time called "Into the Groove" was used instead. The demo version can only be heard in the movie. The song was a huge commercial success but was not included on the film's soundtrack, despite being heard in the film, due to licensing restrictions, which did involve Madonna's record label, that none of her songs was allowed to get mixed in with other artists. The music video for "Into the Groove" consists of clips from the film compiled by Doug Dowdle of Parallax Productions. Track listing[edit] Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
– Music composed by Thomas Newman

"Leave Atlantic City!" "Port Authority by Night" " New York City
New York City
by Day" "Through the Viewscope" "St. Mark's Place" "A Key and a Picture Of" "Battery Park / Amnesia" "Jail / Port Authority by Day" "Rain" "Running With Birds in Cages" "Trouble Almost"

Making Mr. Right
Making Mr. Right
– Music composed and performed by Chaz Jankel

"Chemtech Promo Video" "Ulysses' Escape" "Night Visit" "Frankie's Drive" "Ulysses" "In the Lab" "Sondra and Jeff" "Mr. Right" "Wedding Reception" "Parting Glance"

Songs that appear in the film but not on the released soundtrack:

"Into the Groove" – Madonna (Madonna, Stephen Bray) "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" – Betty Everett (Rudy Clark) "One Fine Day" – The Chiffons* "Urgent" – Junior Walker
Junior Walker
(Mick Jones) "You Belong to Me", – Carly Simon
Carly Simon
(Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart, Chilton Price) "Lust For Life" – Iggy Pop "Sucker M.C.'s" – Run–D.M.C. "Mashed Potato Time" – Dee Dee Sharp "One Thing Leads to Another" – The Fixx "Respect" – Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin
(Otis Redding) "Someday, Someway" – Marshall Crenshaw


There are two versions of the opening scene; one version opens with "The Shoop Shoop Song" and one version opens with "One Fine Day". "One Fine Day" was used for the European version where licensing restrictions prevented the use of the "Shoop Shoop Song" (as explained on the 1996 DVD commentary).

Production[edit] The filmmakers had initially wanted Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton
and Goldie Hawn
Goldie Hawn
to play the roles of Roberta and Susan, but the director decided to cast newcomers Rosanna Arquette
Rosanna Arquette
and Madonna instead and the studio wanted the film to have younger actors in order to appeal to younger filmgoers. Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis
was up for the role of "Dez" and Melanie Griffith was up for the part of "Susan". Madonna barely beat out Ellen Barkin and Jennifer Jason Leigh
Jennifer Jason Leigh
for the part of Susan. Suzanne Vega also auditioned for the role of Susan, but was passed over. The Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
can be seen in the film when it was still covered in scaffolding during its two-year renovation. The DVD commentary track for the film (recorded in 1996) noted that after Madonna's first screen test, the producers asked her to take four weeks of acting lessons and get screen-tested again. Although the second screen test was not much of an improvement, the director still wanted her for the role, as much for her presence and sense of style as for anything else. Costume designer Santo Loquasto designed Susan's pyramid jacket. The film was inspired in part by the 1974 film, Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Céline and Julie Go Boating).[7] The film also has an alternate ending included on the DVD, where Susan and Roberta are invited to Egypt after helping to return the earrings. They are depicted next to the pyramids on camels. The director cut this scene from the end saying that it was unnecessary and audiences at the test screenings thought the film should have already ended much earlier (as explained on the DVD). The 1964 science fiction film, The Time Travelers, is playing in scenes 6 and 23 (melts at the end of the movie). All the scenes featuring Dez (Aidan Quinn) working as a projectionist were filmed at Bleecker Street Cinema. The scene between Roberta and Gary in their kitchen show Roberta watching Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca. The movie was filmed during the late summer and early fall in 1984, early in Madonna's rise to popularity, and was intended to be an R-rated feature. However, following the success of the singer's 1984–85 hits "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl", the film was trimmed in content by Orion Pictures
Orion Pictures
to get a PG-13 rating in order to market the film to Madonna's teenage fan base.[8] The interior/exterior shots of The Magic Club were filmed at the Audubon Ballroom
Audubon Ballroom
in Harlem.[9] Some of the scenes were filmed in Danceteria, a club that Madonna frequented and which gave her a start in the music business. Separated at birth triplets Robert Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman have a cameo role, reportedly at Madonna’s personal invitation.[10]

Stage musical[edit] The film has been developed into a stage musical which received its world premiere at London's Novello Theatre
Novello Theatre
on November 15, 2007, following previews from October 16, 2007. The musical version features music and lyrics by Blondie and Deborah Harry, including a new song written especially for the show. The production was directed by Angus Jackson, with book and concept by Peter Michael Marino, and sets and costumes by Tim Hatley. Produced by Susan Gallin, Ron Kastner, Mark Rubinstein and Old Vic productions, the musical starred Emma Williams as Susan and Kelly Price as Roberta, with Steven Houghton as Alex.[11] Marino presented his solo comedy Desperately Seeking the Exit, which is based on his experiences, at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[12][13] See also[edit]

Film in the United States portal 1980s portal

List of American films of 1985


^ "Desperately Seeking Susan". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 4, 2015. ^ " Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
(1985)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 2, 2018. ^ Amis, Martin (May 2, 1995). Visiting Mrs. Nabokov: And Other Excursions. Vintage. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved February 4, 2015. ^ Taraborrell, J. Randy (September 27, 2001). Madonna: An Intimate Biography. Simon & Schuster. p. 86. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved February 4, 2015. ^ Ebert, Roger
Ebert, Roger
(August 16, 2007). "Movie Answer Man" Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.. rogerebert.com ^ Ebert, Roger. "Desperately Seeking Susan". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 3, 2012.  ^ Austin, Guy (December 1, 2008). Contemporary French Cinema: An Introduction By Guy Austin. Manchester University Press, 2nd edition. p. 64. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved February 4, 2015. ^ "Brief Reviews". New York. May 27, 1985, p. 111. ^ Peyser, Michael (September 24, 2010). "DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN 25 Sarah Pillsbury & Michael Peyser on the Magic Club". YouTube.  ^ Stewart, Sara (January 23, 2018). "These Triplets Were Separated at Birth for a Sick Scientific Experiment". New York Post.  ^ Nicholas Blincoe. " Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
+ Blondie = a painful performance". The Guardian.  ^ "Fringe performers react against the critics – with tomatoes!". The Edinburgh Reporter.  ^ "'Desperately Seeking Susan' Turns 30: An Oral History of the Downtown Classic!". The Edinburgh Reporter. 

External links[edit]

Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
on IMDb Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
at AllMovie Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
at Box Office Mojo Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
at Rotten Tomatoes Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
– The Musical

v t e

Films directed by Susan Seidelman

Smithereens (1982) Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan
(1985) Making Mr. Right
Making Mr. Right
(1987) Cookie (1989) She-Devil
(1989) The Dutch Master (1994) The Barefoot Executive (1995) A Cooler Climate (1999) Gaudi Afternoon
Gaudi Afternoon
(2001) The Ranch (2004) Boynton Beach Club
Boynton Beach Club
(2005) Musical Chairs (2011) The