Desperately Seeking Susan

Desperately Seeking Susan
Desperately Seeking Susan movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySusan Seidelman
Produced bySarah Pillsbury
Midge Sanford
Written byLeora Barish
Craig Bolotin
Music byThomas Newman
CinematographyEdward Lachman
Edited byAndrew Mondshein
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
  • March 29, 1985 (1985-03-29)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4.5 million
Box office$27,398,584[1]

Desperately Seeking Susan is a 1985 American comedy-drama film directed by Susan Seidelman and starring 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 and Steven Wright.

The New York Times named it one of the 10 best films of 1985.


Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) is an unfulfilled suburban housewife living in Fort Lee, New Jersey, who is fascinated by a woman she knows about only by reading messages to and from her in the personals section of a New York City tabloid. Her 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 (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.