Film poster for Klute
|Directed by||Alan J. Pakula|
|Produced by||Alan J. Pakula|
|Written by||Andy Lewis
|Music by||Michael Small|
|Edited by||Carl Lerner|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Klute is a 1971 crime thriller 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 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 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 passed the abusive client on to Bree and another prostitute named Arlyn Page (Dorothy Tristan). The original prostitute committed suicide, and Page became a drug addict and disappeared. Klute and Daniels develop a romance, though she tells her psychiatrist that she fears these feelings and wishes she could go back to "just feeling numb." She admits to Klute a deep paranoia that she is being watched. (Throughout the film, she is frequently shown from the perspective of a stalker across the street.)
They find Page, who tells them the customer was not Gruneman but an "older man... fatter, balder." Page's body then turns up in the Kill Van Kull. Klute deduces a connection between the two "suicides" of the prostitutes, surmising that the client probably also killed Gruneman and may kill Daniels next. He revisits Gruneman's contacts 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 having a suspect, Klute asks Cable for an additional $500 to buy the "black book" of the first prostitute who apparently committed suicide, telling Cable he is certain the book will reveal the identity of the abusive client. This flushes out Cable, who corners 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 the killings. After playing an audiotape he made as he murdered Page, he attacks Daniels. Klute rushes in, and Cable jumps or is thrown out a window to his death (the film uses ambiguous editing).
Daniels moves out of her apartment with Klute's help, though Daniels' voiceover with her psychiatrist reveals her fear of domestic life and a likelihood that the doctor will "see me next week."
- 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
- Robert Milli as Tom Gruneman
The film earned $8 million in rentals at the North American box office.
Klute received generally positive reviews from film critics. It currently holds a 96% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews with an average rating of 8.1/10.
Jane Fonda received worldwide recognition based on her performance. "[Fonda] makes all the right choices, from the mechanics of her walk and her voice inflection to the penetration of the girl's raging psyche. It is a rare performance." 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. Fonda also received awards for her performance from the New York Film Critics Circle, Kansas City Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.
- "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.
- "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 44
- "Klute Film Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes.
- "Jane Fonda Awards". Internet Movie Database.
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