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Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

Amnesia, mistaken identities and danger befall a bored housewife who becomes involved with a free-spirited young woman.

Rosanna Arquette plays Roberta Glass, a bored Yuppie housewife from Fort Lee, New Jersey who gets romantic kicks by reading the personal ads in the New York Times. For some time, she’s been intrigued by secret messages from a guy named Jim who is “desperately seeking” a girl named Susan.

Suffocating in a shopping mall world of plastic values and mediocre materialism, Roberta decides to investigate by spying on a rendezvous between Susan (Madonna) and Jim (Robert Joy) at Battery Park.

Susan is junk-shop couture, punk rock idealism, and Day-Glo glitter. Roberta is suburban sensible, with a smart pageboy, a shoulder-strap Lois Lane handbag, and a wardrobe from Bamberger’s.

But then Roberta knocks herself out and wakes up thinking she is Susan.

Susan’s rock singer boyfriend, Jim, assigns his pal Des (Aidan Quinn), a projectionist at the Bleecker Street Cinema, to protect her. Des falls in love with Roberta, thinking she’s Susan. To complicate things, Roberta, who doesn’t know who she is, becomes Divina, Queen of the Night, in a magic show.


Pursued down filthy alleys in a purple tutu with a shopping bag in one hand and a cage full of doves in the other, arrested by the cops for soliciting, and stalked by a homicidal maniac, Roberta sinks deeper into an acute identity confusion.

As the plot gets crazier, the movie grows more fascinating. Now everybody’s desperately seeking Roberta including her square hot-tub salesman husband Gary (Mark Blum) – and the only clue poor Roberta has to unlock the mystery is a key to a locker at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

The backdrop of New York is exquisitely high-tech contemporary: Mohawk haircuts, surreal discos, spaced-out punk extras, the iridescently lit world of midnight neon where Roberta ends up in Susan’s spike heels.

What is supposed to pass as farce, becomes sidetracked with excessive complications and the story eventually loses momentum.

Mark Blum died in March 2020 as a result of coronavirus complications. He was 69.


Roberta Glass
Rosanna Arquette


Aidan Quinn

Robert Joy
Gary Glass
Mark Blum
Leslie Glass
Laurie Metcalf
Anna Levine
Wayne Nolan
Will Patton
Peter Maloney
Larry Stillman
Steven Wright
John Turturro
Anne Carlisle
Bruce Meeker
Richard Hell
Daisy Bradford

Susan Seidelman