Klute 1971 Movie Scene Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels a call girl talking to her client

Klute [1971]

Although it’s technically a thriller, you should think of Klute as more of a drama than anything else. A character study that tries to humanize and explore the lives of those who society deems immoral. The story follows a private detective, John Klute, investigating the disappearance of his wealthy friend. His only clue is a strong-willed call girl by the name of Bree Daniels. The director is Alan J. Pakula, and Klute is the first movie in his paranoia trilogy. It was followed by The Parallax View and All the President’s Men. Parallax was sort of a tedious affair while President’s Men is still a classic.

You should also check out his nineties murder mystery movie Presumed Innocent starring Harrison Ford. Moving on, Klute is a highly immersive movie featuring those long shots that sort of linger off into the distance. The main theme is not paranoia, in my opinion, but hypocrisy. The hypocrisy with which society treats sex workers while simultaneously actively using their services. It dehumanizes them to a point where they feel they’re not a part of it anymore, oftentimes resorting to drugs to numb the pain. It’s a difficult situation that still remains unsolved in our present-day society. 

And since the movie is taking place in the early seventies we also get the chance to see how the world looked back then. How people talked, dressed, and what were their ambitions. Something I usually mention with all my bit older movie recommendations. This one’s rather strange as it doesn’t fit my standard range but I think I need to include it exactly because of that. Sometimes you need to step out of the usual format. Although I hate that saying “life begins outside of your comfort zone” as I think it’s utterly false and pretentious.

Tom Gruneman is a happily married wealthy man in his early fifties. And then, he suddenly disappears. The police investigation didn’t find anything of use to the family, so they hire John Klute, a PI and a friend of the family. He travels to New York from his small Pennsylvania town and discovers it to be quite overwhelming. While trying to locate his missing friend, he meets Bree, a high-end call girl with a spunky attitude. Soon, the two of them hit it off and start slowly getting closer and closer to the answer to this mystery…

Jane Fonda won an Academy Award for her performance in this movie and you can see why pretty much right away. This was an emotional, convincing, and mesmerizing portrayal of a woman trying to just live her life. Donald Sutherland was rather subdued here but so was his character so there’s that. Apart from them, we also have Roy Scheider playing the role of a pimp, Frank Ligourin. Since a lot of the story revolves around sex, we will get thought-provoking and almost voyeuristic scenes where Bree first meets with her clients. And just to be perfectly clear there won’t be any nudity here.

The idea of sexual freedom and the exploration of different kinds of sensations and emotions is integral to the story. In fact, the ending is so poignant and revealing that makes all the sometimes boring scenes, worth it. I’m referring to the infamous speech offering insight into the mind of a highly delusional individual and a serial killer. I think that men were able to see for the first time how an encounter with a professional, beautiful, and a highly intelligent female sex worker would go. And I think it blew their minds.

We will learn a lot about her and everything we will see and hear would ring true. So, Klute is actually an intriguing character study and not film noir in my opinion. To me, it’s more similar to Seconds, a late-sixties thriller exploring the world of wealthy middle-aged men from a different perspective. Some ten years later, Friedkin would offer a similar but even more controversial true film noir with his masterpiece Cruising. 

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Writers: Andy Lewis, David E. Lewis

Cast: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, Roy Scheider, Dorothy Tristan, Nathan George

Fun Facts: Sylvester Stallone plays an extra in this movie and you can see him during the first disco scene dancing in front of the organ.


IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067309/

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