Film poster for Klute
|Directed by||Alan J. Pakula|
|Produced by||Alan J. Pakula|
|Written by||Andy Lewis
|Music by||Michael Small|
|Editing by||Carl Lerner|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||June 25, 1971|
|Running time||114 minutes|
Klute is a 1971 dramatic film directed and produced by Alan J. Pakula, written by Andy and Dave Lewis, and starring Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi and Roy Scheider. It tells the story of a prostitute who assists a detective in solving a missing person's case.
The film begins with the disappearance of Pennsylvania executive Tom Gruneman (played by veteran actor Robert Milli). The police reveal that an obscene letter was found in Gruneman's office, addressed to a prostitute in New York City named Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), who had received several similar letters from him. After six months of fruitless police work, Peter Cable (Charles Cioffi), an executive at Gruneman's company, hires family friend and private detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) to investigate Gruneman's disappearance.
Klute rents an apartment in the basement of Daniels' building, taps her phone, and follows her as she turns tricks. Daniels appears to be liberated by the freedom of freelancing as a call girl, but in a series of visits to her psychiatrist, she gradually reveals the emptiness of her life and that she wants to quit. Klute asks Daniels to answer some of his questions, but she refuses. He approaches her again, revealing that he has been watching her. She assumes that he will turn her in if she does not cooperate, but does not recall Gruneman at all. She reveals that she was beaten by one of her johns two years earlier, but after seeing a photo of Gruneman, she says she cannot say for sure one way or the other. She is only certain that the john "was serious" about the attack.
Daniels takes Klute to meet her former pimp, Frank Ligourin (Roy Scheider), who reveals that one of his prostitutes shared the abusive client to Bree, another woman named Arlyn Page (Dorothy Tristan). The original prostitute committed suicide, and Page became a drug addict and disappeared. As they search the city for the woman over several days, Klute and Daniels develop a romance. She admits to a deep paranoia which makes her think that she is being watched. Throughout the film, she is frequently shown from the perspective of a stalker across the street.
When the couple finally track down Page, she says that the customer was not Gruneman but an "older man... fatter, balder". Shortly after the meeting, Page's body turns up in the Kill Van Kull, another apparent suicide. Klute deduces a connection between the two suicides of the prostitutes who have been with the mysterious abusive client, surmising that the client probably also killed Gruneman and may kill Daniels next. He revisits Gruneman's contacts anew to try to find connections with the case. By typographic comparison, the supposed obscene letters of Gruneman are traced to Cable, with whom Klute has been meeting regularly to report on his investigation.
Now with a suspect, Klute asks Cable for an additional $500 to buy the "black book" of the first prostitute who committed suicide, telling Cable he is certain the book will reveal the identity of the abusive client. This flushes Cable out. Cable confronts Bree and reveals that he sent her the letters, explaining that Gruneman had interrupted him when he was attacking a prostitute. Certain that Gruneman would use the incident as leverage against him within the company, Cable attempted to frame Gruneman by planting the letter in his office. He confesses to killing Page and the other prostitute to cover his tracks. After playing an audiotape he made as he murdered Page, he attacks Daniels. Klute rushes in, and Cable jumps out the window to his death.
The film closes with Daniels moving out of her apartment to return to Pennsylvania with Klute.
- Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels
- Donald Sutherland as John Klute
- Charles Cioffi as Peter Cable
- Roy Scheider as Frank Ligourin
- Dorothy Tristan as Arlyn Page
- Rita Gam as Trina
- Nathan George as Trask
- Vivian Nathan as Psychiatrist
- Lee Wallace as Nate Goldfarb (uncredited)
- Sylvester Stallone as Discothèque Patron (uncredited)
- Teri Garr as Psychiatrist's Receptionist (uncredited)
- Jean Stapleton as a receptionist
At one point during the filming, Jane Fonda thought she was completely wrong for the role and told Pakula she would ruin it if she stayed with it. He told her to stop worrying and get back to the set. She won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the film was nominated for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced.
Pop culture references 
In the 2001 satirical comedy film Wet Hot American Summer, camp counselor Gary (A. D. Miles) acknowledges that as he and his friend J.J. (Zak Orth) secretly spy on some swimsuit-clad female camp counselors, their voyeuristic activity is "just like Klute."
In the American Dad! episode "The Best Christmas Story Never Told" Stan Smith is brought to 1970 by the Ghost of Christmas Past. However, when the Ghost (named Michelle) offhandedly mentions Jane Fonda filming Klute at the time Stan runs off and tries to kill her before she can get involved in politics.
- "Movie Klute - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- All In the Family began airing in January 1971, the same month as the film's release.
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