94. Desperately Seeking Susan


Movie: Desperately Seeking Susan

Release Date: March 29, 1985

Director: Susan Seidelman

Starring: Rosanna Arquette, Aidan Quinn, Madonna, Robert Joy, Mark Blum, Laurie Metcalf, Steven Wright.

Tag Lines: “Roberta is desperate to be Susan. Susan is wanted by the mob. The mob finds Roberta instead…”

“It’s a life so outrageous it takes two women to live it.”

Relevance: Guess who’s baaaack? The one and only Madonna. I mean, It’s not like I didn’t warn you (see 215. Four Rooms, 177. Body of Evidence and 98. Dick Tracy). ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ marks Madonna’s fourth appearance out of eight on my list of most influential movies of all time. And one might say Susan Thomas is the character that started it all.

By the time ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ was released, I was already a huge fan and a male Madonna wannabe. When I saw her video on MTV for “Burning Up” in 1983 I was definitely intrigued. By the time “Lucky Star” showed up on the cable music channel a few months later, I was dancing along and never once stopped or looked back. When the ball dropped in Times Square marking the beginning of 1985, I already had her first two albums on cassette as well as every song memorized, not to mention every dance move I saw her make. So did the entire world. Madonna had already done what she told Dick Clark she was going to do on “American Bandstand” one year prior. “To rule the world.”

‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ was Madonna’s first major on screen role and not only did it receive critical praise, it also became a moderate box office hit. One would have thought that as huge a fan as I was at the time I would have been one of the first people in line to see it. Unfortunately that was not the case. In 1985, I was only fourteen years old, which meant I was moneyless, carless and still under control of a mother and a father. I was never able to convince anyone in my house to take me to see the movie. I was devastated. That devastation continued in April when Madonna announced “The Virgin Tour” and I was told that I couldn’t go. That tour is the only show of Madonna’s that I never saw live and in person. I always (jokingly) held that against my mom until her dying day. She always just rolled her eyes and laughed.

I wasn’t able to see ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ until it was released as a rental some time later that year. I am guessing late summer or early fall. Regardless of the time, I was definitely one of the first to rent it from my local Blockbuster store. Is anyone at all shocked that I absolutely loved the movie? Because of course I did and I must have watched it three or four times before returning it. I was obsessed. It was quirky, funny and Madonna was above and beyond fabulous. Because the story involved two characters falling in love, my mom became interested and eventually fell in love with the movie as well. I reminded her how she wouldn’t take me to see it. She said that she would take me to the next Madonna movie in the theater, which she did in 1987. And of course that movie will be popping up on this blog in a couple of months.

‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ was watched by me (and my mom) a lot when it aired on HBO and as soon as it became available we owned it on VHS. I eventually purchased the DVD and it was a movie that I have watched numerous times. It never got old, it always made me smile and laugh and I fall in love with Madonna even more each and every time.

Today’s Thoughts: “How do you use the birds?”

‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ still remains one of the funniest films from the 1980’s with one of the most famous, although not at the time, ensemble casts. Rosanna Arquette, Aidan Quinn, Laurie Metcalf and Steven Wright were not so famous back in 1985. After this film however they all skyrocketed to some level of fame soon after, although not as high and far as Madonna. It was fun to watch the movie today and see all of them (babies!) at the start of their careers.

The movie is a charming, fun, entertaining comedy with a simple but fairy tale like premise that still works on all levels. The mistaken identity plot is not original, but something the way Susan Seidelman directed it made it seem fresh. The performances are energetic and there are numerous quotes from the film that always, always make me laugh out loud. Laurie Metcalf is brilliant in this movie and almost steals the movie away from Madonna. But let’s face it, this movie, despite her supporting role, is all about Madonna. She is brilliant.

‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ is a must watch movie for all fans of Madonna, New York City, which almost plays like one of the characters, or the 1980’s. It is nostalgic and goofy and simply put, a really good time. And it gave us “Into the Groove,” Billboard’s Dance Single of the Decade as an added bonus. Not too shabby.

Awards: Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Rosanna Arquette (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Rosanna Arquette (winner).

Ways to Watch: iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.


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