KLUTE (1971)

Klute - CoverThe Criterion Collection’ have recently released a digitally enhanced version of the 1971 classic, ‘Klute’. It was directed by Alan J. Pakula; it starred Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, and Roy Scheider; and it lasts for 114-minutes. Plus, as an extra added bonus, the Blu-ray edition comes with new interviews, a new featurette, archival material, as well as a short documentary shot during the making of the film. Please enjoy.

Klute [The Criterion Collection]

Good evening, Ms. Daniels (Jane Fonda). I do apologize for interrupting you at a time like this, but I was wondering if I could ask you a couple of questions? Questions relating to your current career.

No, I’m not referring to your acting career, but rather, your other career, your career in prostitution. Or to be more specific about it, I would like to know about one of your former clients, Tom Gruneman (Robert Milli), who attacked you two years ago before pestering you by phone and by mail. Recently, however, he has strangely vanished without a trace, and now it’s up to me to track him down and try to figure out what’s going on! 

So, can you help me with this? Me, John Klute (Donald Sutherland)! I hope you can, otherwise, what next transpires may go ooh, la-la,  when you suddenly slam the door in my face. Bang! As a call-girl doesn’t know what to do - a detective looks for an interesting clue - a druggy sniffs too much glue - and at the end of the day, please remember, it’s always good to try something new. 

In many ways, I’d say ‘Klute’ is a character study disguised as a murder mystery because a large portion of the plot focuses on a prostitute who isn’t sure what to do with her life. On the one hand, she loves the feeling of being in control whenever she’s intimate with one of her clients. While, on the other, the act in itself makes her feel rather sad and lonely inside! In fact, it makes her feel so sad and lonely, that she deliberately takes steps to break away from her profession by getting involved with modeling, acting, and going to a therapist in order to resolve her concerns! 

Klute - Jane Fonda
Unfortunately, though, nothing seems to work! Not totally, anyway, until one day a po-faced detective suddenly enters her life and asks her for some help! Help with a case which involves one of her ex-clients. So, after some much-needed persuasion, she agrees to give him a hand (Oi! Don’t be dirty), and the two of them then go off together to investigate the alleged crime and form a somewhat peculiar partnership. 

However, at this particular stage of the story, something rather unusual occurs: The two of them start to become far more interesting than the adventure they’re involved with. After all, what would you prefer to see? A step-by-step police procedural where person A goes to person B in order to track down person C? Or alternatively, would you like to find out what a sexy prostitute feels, deep, deep inside? Keeping in mind that she doesn't love her career but she may love the very stoic detective she’s slowly assisting!

Well, as I said before, the prostitute has a lot of issues to contend with, an awful lot of issues, ranging from her inability to have a healthy relationship all the way to her carnal desires. What's more, her counterpart, the detective, is also a bit of a wild-card, largely due to him being too honest, too righteous, and to some degree, in complete contradiction to everything the prostitute stands for. So, as you can see, these two come across as the proverbial odd couple, 70s style, which is why their relationship is far more captivating than the paint-it-by-numbers investigation they are attempting to pursue. 

Klute - Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland

Now, where the overall look of this film is concerned, visually, I would say that everything seems to possess a definite neo-noir vibe, where colors, hues, and textures, offset one another, with the intent of emphasizing a plot point or a character’s personality. For example, some of the character’s wore seductive garments to show off their more desirable attributes, honk-honk!, while those in a position of power wore more conservative attire to denote their lofty status. Similarly, most of the backdrops featured were likewise full of personality and socially relevant.  Although, in this instance, the internal scenes were either dimly lit shabby chic apartments, sterile-looking offices, or grand and luxurious places to party, while most of the external scenes can easily be defined as New York Gothic, albeit a grungier version that’s either urban or domestic by design.

Klute - sexy Jane Fonda and dull Donald Sutherland,
Anyway, that’s enough of that for the time being, because now I think we should sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic facts: (1) ‘Warner Bros.’ first released this two-and-a-half million dollar production in New York, New York, on the exact same day ‘Merrill Lynch’ became the second Wall Street firm to go public. It was on the 23rd of June, 1971, and eventually, it clawed back just over twelve-and-a-half million dollars at the Box Office. (2) According to the director, Alan J. Pakula, this film was the first part of what he informally called his ‘Paranoia Trilogy’, with the other two films being ‘The Parallax View’ [1974] and ‘All the President's Men’ [1976]. (3) Loosely translated, this project was entitled ‘Call Girl’ in Japan, ‘The Disappearance’ in Greece, and ‘My Past Condemns Me’ in Mexico. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, states: ‘Lots of guys swing with a call girl like Bree. One guy just wants to kill her’. (5) The majority of this movie was shot inside ‘Filmways Studios’, located on 246 East 127th Street, East Harlem, Manhattan, although most of the external scenes were shot on location throughout the American state of New York. (6) If you look very closely at that scene where Peter Cable attempts to board a helicopter, in the background you might be able to notice the original 'World Trade Center' being built. Also, Sylvester Stallone alleges that he made an appearance in this film as well, but isn’t quite sure in which scene and in what capacity. (7) Did you recognize what Bree was reciting during her audition for the stage play? If not, don’t worry, because George Bernard Shaw's ‘Saint Joan’ isn’t a popular piece. (8) Despite her talent and her natural beauty, certain members of the crew weren't too fond of Jane Fonda because of her political activism and her stance on the Vietnam War. So much so, in fact, that during production, a couple of them decided to dress her 'on-stage apartment' with the American flag to show her how they felt.

Klute - Jane and Don walking the streets

In closing my review of ‘Klute’,  I would just like to say how much I enjoyed watching the performances given by each individual member of the cast. Donald Sutherland, for instance, played John Klute as if he were a sullen suburbanite who's both clever and kind depending on the situation (similar to Sergeant Joe Friday from the TV show, ‘Dragnet’). Whereas Jane Fonda, on the other hand, played Bree Daniels as if she were a wounded deer who’s sexy one minute, bold the next, but always brazen enough to make us root for her at any given turn. Heck, Jane was so good in this part that she even won an Academy Award for it! And as for the rest of the cast? Well, in their case, Roy Scheider and Charles Cioffi were rather menacing as the pimp and the villain respectively, although I wished they had some more screen time in order to build up their parts.

Actually, while I'm on the subject of things needing more time, that reminds me: Do you think Bree and Klute could make their relationship work? Could the two of them cast away their past and embrace a different future? Personally, I don’t think this is entirely possible, not totally, that's for sure, simply because he’s too rigid, logical, and emotionless, while she’s too open, loose, and emotional! But then again, you know the old saying, don’t ya? The one about opposites attract? Well, in their situation, that’s precisely what has brought them both together, and in the same breath, that’s precisely what is going to tear them apart. So, no matter what way you look at it, they were destined to be united yet divided due to their contrasting ideologies.

Anyway, all that aside, and overall I would just like to say that this movie is a terrific movie and it’s definitely worth the watch if you like urban adventures, crime dramas, or female-driven films with something to say about life, love, death, and the pursuit of happiness.  It is truly a class act. 


KLUTE (1971) KLUTE (1971) Reviewed by David Andrews on August 19, 2019 Rating: 5

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