Desperately Seeking Susan is one of those titles in a catalogue of definitive 80s movies. It is a fantastic little caper directed by the fantastic Susan Seidleman, and unfortuantely, was one movie that got pitched around a long time before someone finally picked it up.
Susan (played terrifically by Madonna in her pre-burnout years) is a sassy, flaky, and often witty young woman who's always looking for a good time, even when danger is afoot. Enter Roberta Glass (Rosanna Arquette) who could practically be her alter ego as she is everything Susan is not. She is shy and judicious and stuck in a boring marriage, looking for an escape. She is everything Susan is not, and wants to be everything that Susan is. And she will get her chance.
Roberta reads the personal ads frequently because that is how wordly traveller Susan reaches her boyfriend, Jimmy (Robert Joy). They place ads saying hello and telling each where to meet. Roberta is going to tag along when Susan posts a new ad telling Jimmy to meet her in battery park. This is where Roberta takes an interest in Susan, but not that in single white female kind of way, despite the sudden mix up that arises out of all of this. She follows Susan around the city and so forth.
Someone else is following Susan, too. A murderer (Patton) looking for a very expensive earring that was stolen from a museum. He is after Susan because he knows she has the earring. But, after an accident at the park and Roberta winding up with amnesia, the murderer is after the wrong Susan. With the help of Jim's friend Dez (Quinn), Roberta slowly has to figure out who she is, otherwise the murderer is going to kill her, thinking she has the find. In the meantime, Susan teams up with Roberta's totally idiotic husband, Gary (Mark Blum) to find out Roberta's whereabouts. Roberta is going to get exactly what she wanted: a little fun, a little adventure, and a little escape, that will have her rethinking her own course.
Desperately Seeking Susan is really a fun movie that takes place in New York City. Everybody in it, even Mark Blum as the obnoxious Gary Glass and Laurie Metcalf as his compulsive and mistrusting sister, Leslie. Rosanna Arquette is great in nearly everything I've seen her in for her 80s career of movies, and works perfectly as Roberta in her romance with Dez (Quinn). And, it is one of the few things that I actually like Madonna in. They tried to recreate her Susan image (and story) for the movie, Who's That Girl (with Griffin Dunne), but it just couldn't work as perfectly as it did here. Seidleman and writer Leora Barish did some good work in producing a fun film.
By the way, if you're ever in Greenwhich Village, 'Love Saves the Day' (the second hand clothing store that Susan goes into to buy boots) still exists. However, they mostly sell retro novelty toys.