A married man goes missing in New York. The police find some obscene letters in his desk and think he’s the author who may have gotten mixed up with a shady call girl. After six months of nothing, the missing man’s wife and business partner (Charles Cioffi) hire family friend and detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) to track down the call girl and find the missing man. Jane Fonda plays Bree Daniels, the New York call girl who is trying to get out of the life when Klute comes knocking on her door. She does her best to help, all things considered, she doesn’t remember the missing man as so much time has gone by. Meanwhile, the people connected to the mystery have either died or gone into the far reaches of drug addiction. Bree also begins experiencing obscene phone calls and someone lurking around her apartment. Klute follows her around, they meet with her last pimp, Frank, played by Roy Scheider, who is perfectly slimy and well-dressed, but offers little information. As Klute and Bree become closer to each other and finding the killer, the tension mounds and the killer is revealed.
This film uses voice-over throughout as an extension of Bree Daniels character and the seedy underworld of prostitution as well as creating an atmosphere of intimacy and auditory voyeurism. A piano-light melody with hushed vocal sounds adds to the score and dark undertones of the film giving the audience that creepy feeling of a stalker’s point of view. The use of negative space in this film supports the dark erotic thriller nature of the film even during some of the more “innocent” moments and dictates what the director allows the viewer to see. A complete manipulation of information as he wants you to know it. The dialogue is abrupt, direct, sharp at times, honest, and vulnerable. All of which mostly come from Bree Daniels. Donald Sutherland speaks, of course, but his shining moments are mostly from action and facial expression as both of these say more about Klute than anything he could say. This film is stylish in so many ways–Bree’s shag haircut and fashion, the dark and gritty look of New York at the beginning of the 70s, the ability to be a sexually charged and erotic thriller without seeing graphic sex or murder–not a boob or butt cheek in sight. So many things I love about this film. I cannot think of anything I would change or add. Cinematography by Gordon Willis (The Godfather films), music by Michael Small. Edited by Carl Lerner.
One of my all-time favorite films. Released in 1971, this film earned Jane Fonda an Oscar for Best Actress for her role of Bree Daniels, the call girl. It’s also responsible for giving me my first alias in the dating world – Bree Daniels– which I would use when meeting someone for the first time in case I didn’t like them 🙂 (My 2nd was Sasha but I only used it once after it backfired on me in a major way but that’s another story…) Available on Amazon and YouTube. Watch the trailer below:
The movie is a THOUSAND times better than the trailer. TRUST ME.