User Reviews (134)

Add a Review

  • Fine gritty dramatic mystery that gets the pulse of NYC in the early 70's just right. It becomes another character in the film which only strengths the picture and adds a certain creeping menace to it. While the movie pivots on the disappearance of a man it's really a character study of alienation with the investigation a peg to hang the main action on.

    Sutherland is fine as the inquiring detective John Klute but the film lives and dies on the character of Bree Daniels and Jane Fonda owns that part.

    Bree wants the world to believe she's one tough hard customer but as the film progresses it becomes more and more obvious that the bravado is a front. She displays raw, honest emotion in all her scenes but particularly in her therapy sequences. She shows so many layers to the character, including flashes of humor that Bree comes across as a real woman.

    Usually I try not to let appearance factor into my appraisal of a performance however that shag hairstyle is integral to the audience's acceptance of her as a tough call girl. Having moved forward and away from her initial image of the blonde cutie with her previous film, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, she completely transforms herself in this. The soft blonde Jane Fonda of Barefoot in the Park or Barbarella of only a couple of years before would never be believable as Bree Daniels. The film was a major hit and she won her first Oscar for it. She was up against some excellent performances that year but she was the correct winner.

    Expertly directed by Pakula in his usual observant style this is a classic of '70's cinema. Highly recommended.
  • "Klute" was a mixture of lone cop and private eye: a police officer who was hired privately to investigate somebody's disappearance… The trail led him deep into the world of New York call-girls, pimps and drug addicts… It was all shown, the vice, the degradation, but with intelligent compassion and honest humanity instead of the leer that so often sits on the face of the Seventies…

    Although barely more talkative than "Dirty Harry," "Klute" emerged as a whole human being rather than as a robot programmed to shoot and hit…And as a high class hooker Bree Daniel, Jane Fonda achieved a characterization that has never been surpassed in all the abundant literature of tarts with hearts…

    "Klute" was a modern, as honest and unflinching as any fanatic for realism could ask; yet it was never curious about sexuality, never needlessly violent, never brutal… And for complete, entertaining suspense, it was up there with the great ones: an enormous tribute to the producer-director Alan J. Pakula
  • The question Klute ultimately asks is can a high priced call girl from Manhattan find happiness with a small town private detective from Tuscarora, Pennsylvania? Of course it asks more than that and probes the human psyche quite a bit.

    Though the title role of John Klute the detective is played by Donald Sutherland, the central character is Jane Fonda the call girl. Which begs the question why the film wasn't called Bree. It was her performance as Bree Daniels that got Jane her first Academy Award for Best Actress. That and sympathy from Hollywood for being an avowed member in good standing on Richard Nixon's enemies list.

    Despite Nixon and his trashing of the Constitution, I never liked the idea of Jane Fonda broadcasting from Hanoi while our soldiers were fighting in Vietnam. That was taking anti-war protest way too far. But forgetting the politics she gives quite a performance as the psychologically deep and troubled call girl who has a stalker on her hands.

    Sutherland as Klute is hired to trace the disappearance of business executive Robert Milli from the main corporate employer in Tuscarora, Pennsylvania. Apparently Milli was leading a double life, on business trips he'd hire call girls and had a tendency to get rough while frolicking. There's a note found threatening one of them and of course it's Jane Fonda.

    Fonda is an aspiring actress and model who does this to pay the bills. It's given her quite a cynical attitude on life. It takes a while, but Sutherland kind of grows on her and when he solves the disappearance, he proves to be her benefactor.

    Other performance to note are Roy Scheider as her pimp, Rita Gam as the brothel madam and Charles Cioffi the CEO of the company who hires Sutherland to find the missing Milli. Still it's Fonda who dominates the proceedings.

    I'm still hoping that Peter Fonda gets a role that will land him an Oscar so we have a father-daughter-son parlay of Oscar winners in one family. Klute as a film has stood the test of time and hasn't aged a bit. It could easily be done today with those awful Seventies fashions replaced by today's.
  • In Pennsylvania, when his old friend, the laboratory engineer Tom Gruneman (Robert Mili), vanishes, detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland) is hired by Tom's colleague Peter Cable (Charles Cioffi) to search for him. The unique lead is an obscene letter written by Tom to a call-girl in New York called Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), and Klute moves to the Apple city to investigate the disappearance of Tom. Klute blackmails Bree to help him to find other prostitutes that might have been with Tom using some tapes of her phone calls that he had secretly recorded. They realize that some is stalking Bree, while Klute falls in love for Dress, and she has some sort of feeling that she can not understand for him.

    In 1971, Jane Fonda was a muse worshiped by many teenagers like me, and I was particularly following her work through the sexy and cult sci-fi "Barbarella" and "They Shoot Horses, Don't They", an excellent adaptation of Horace McCoy's novel of the same name that had impressed me a lot. "Klute" was considered erotic in those times and the scene where Dree fakes an orgasm while looking at her watch was a sensation. Later I saw this movie many times on VHS, and now I have just bought the DVD.

    "Klute" is really a classic film-noir, one of my favorite movies ever, with an engaging story with thriller, crime and romance, magnificent direction and stunning performances of Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland in the role of very believable characters. Jane Fonda deserved the Oscar perfectly playing a very complex character, strong and insensitive with her clients, fragile and confused with love. It is amazing how this movie has not aged and how much I like it every time I see it. My vote is nine.

    Title (Brazil): "Klute, O Passado Condena" ("Klute, the Past Condemns")
  • Despite the rough-edges reputation of Pakula, he always manages to give us some beautifully shot, almost fragile images. Like Fonda pondering an envelope full of money and a blank invoice while surrounded by clothing-store dummies; or Sutherland choosing apricots by feel; or even Roy Scheider's silent acknowledgement that he is being used. And Fonda's artless performance is so unbelieveable, I couldn't believe it was her.

    Terrifically acted - everyone takes just the right tone. My only quibble about the movie is how the mystery is solved. It's much too abrupt given the meandering pace of the rest of the movie. But the plot means nothing in this surprisingly delicate character study.
  • I can't believe that only one user has had a comment on this film after almost 34 years. I remember seeing this film as a undergraduate in 1971. As far as anything goes in 1971, this was as erotic as a film got in that year without garnering an "X" rating. God, life was simpler then. I just watched this film for the first time since 1971 (34 years ago) and every ounce of suspense was still there. Donald Southerland was new to film then and had not yet earned his reputation as the consummate character actor. Jane Fonda had not yet earned the epithet of "Hanoi Jane". And Jean Stapleton was not yet known as "Edit". Although this film seems a little dated as far as acting styles go. The "creep" factor is still there. Anyone who has viewed a few episodes of "Law and Order" will see the obvious villain in the first 30 minutes of this film but will also appreciate the strenuous character development that is evident in the film. Although it is obvious fairly early on who the bad guy is, it's interesting to see the expository effort that is expended in order to flesh out the characters. I am so glad that most of the actors involved in this endeavor went on to greater glory. I thank DARPA for the internet for my ability to inflict my opinions on more than a "small circle of friends".
  • I agree with the commentator(s) who say the title of this film should be 'Bree' instead of 'Klute.' No offense to Donald Sutherland who is undoubtedly effective in his role, but it is Jane Fonda's wonderfully nuanced performance that really carries this film. What an incredible range this actress has and what an impressive résumé she has put together throughout her career! I can't wait to see her in Monster In Law. Jane Fonda definitely deserved the Oscar she got for this role. Her portrayal of Bree Daniels, a tragic heroine wracked by inner contradictions is one of cinema's most haunting characters not only in the context of the story but as the embodiment of the immediate post sexual revolution as well. Highly recommended!
  • We grab from the top drawer for our descriptive words nowadays. We call a really good movie "awesome," leaving ourselves at a loss when a movie truly does inspire awe, such is the case with Jane Fonda's performance as Bree Daniels in Klute. And not for the same reasons as we're normally "awed" by performances. She doesn't have big, tearful breakdown scenes or fiery cross-examinations on a witness stand. She simply interacts, tries to figure out her own feelings and lack thereof, and experiences them. She makes all the right choices, from the workings of her walk and her vocal nuances to the infiltration of the girl's rampant mind. It's an uncommonly exceptional performance. She has a kind of anxious concentration that keeps her so resolutely in sync with a film character that the character truly seems preoccupied by things that happen in the story. You effectively get the sense that Bree had other things on her mind and was just about to pursue them when whatever it is arose.

    Klute is one of the paramount films in which director of photography Gordon Willis, more than any other cinematographer, circumscribed the cinematic look of the 1970s: sophisticated compositions in which gulps of light and black put the decade's vague philosophy into harsh release. He imbues Klute with shadow and underexposed long takes with a delicacy and expression rarely before seen on color film stock. He has an unaffected sense of unconventional but formal configuration and dark beauty, using a shadowy painterliness to characterize not only the look but the precise meaning and atmosphere of a film.

    Nevertheless, more than just a neo-noir or detective thriller, this initial installment of what would unofficially come to be termed as quite incredible and quite overlooked director Alan J. Pakula's paranoia trilogy is about a practiced, clever, cynical and self-contained New York call girl without a heart of gold. She never feels anything when she's with a john, yet she does undergo a sensation of satisfaction with her skill when she pleases them. And some of them have very complex desires, which test her character's own inspired acting capability. One old garment industry magnate, for instance, romanticizes an optimistic bygone Europe life, and Bree depicts it to him in calm, tender descriptions while she undresses. He in no way touches her.

    Bree is at the heart of a movie whose title character is a cop who's come to New York, ad hoc, to resolve a missing persons case. It seems that the missing man may still be alive, and the cause of obscene notes and phone calls Bree has been getting. Bree at first rebuffs Klute, though she ultimately does talk to him, mainly because she's scared by late-night stalkers and wants his safety. This, rather than the thriller aspects of the plot, is more or less where the film's theme becomes paranoia. It's a romantic relationship based on it. Paranoid thinking tends to incorporate oneself. Distinctive from dogma or stupidity. And it's fascinating to watch two actors, one of whom having only four or five lines in the entire film, develop their largely intuitive rapport on a basis of Bree's feelings of a seeming menace towards her, and what we can only sense is a gradual building of trust in her from a point of associating suspicion with his being alien to her lifestyle.

    But how do you build a relationship between a neurotic prostitute and an upright milquetoast cop? This genuinely psychological dramatic thriller does it by making the cop, in one of Donald Sutherland's strongest performances, into a person of moderation and formality, a man sincerely worried about this girl he's encountered. Sutherland's manner is a large part of what makes their relationship so engrossing. Customarily, in the movies, it's simply implicit the lovers were drawn toward one another because the script has a vague understanding of reductive audience demographics.

    The scenes between Fonda and Sutherland are extremely accomplished, then, and Bree is further expounded on in scenes showing her trying to escape the vocation and into something respectable. She takes acting lessons, she auditions to model for cosmetics ads. She speaks with her shrink in scenes that literally, truly, absolutely, feel like documentary and put on permanent display Fonda's irrefutable brilliance. That's why the story, otherwise done many times in less interesting ways, works with such freshness and realism. In Klute, you don't have two pretty acting voids narrating stock phrases and running from henchmen. With Fonda and Sutherland, you have actors who comprehend and relate to their characters, and you wish all filmmakers felt their material entitled to this degree of dramatic ingenuity.
  • Canino-424 September 1999
    What an awesome film. A good movie to contrast this with, is the film "Devil's Own". Both were directed by the late, great Alan J. Pakula, but were products of vastly different quality. You couldn't pick up a paper, and not read about how much Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt hated each other, and the end product suffered because of it. You had the core of a good movie torn apart, because the Pitt part, and the Ford part didn't co-exist.

    No Such problem with "Klute". Here, all the pieces fit together. Scheider's suave, non-chalant pimp, Sutherland's lonely, enigmatic pseudo-gumshoe, and Fonda's basket case call girl all fit wonderfully. In fact, there are no slackers in this cast. Michael Small's creepy score also deserves mention, as does Pakula's masterful use of gritty, realistic New York City.

    It's almost depressing to watch the raw talent at work in films like "Klute". Nowadays, films are so much the result of magazine polling, and the ever-present bottom line. It's true, we still have independent films, but even they are getting co-opted by big money. Still, I suppose there still are the John Sayles' of the world holding out. God bless 'em.
  • Donald Sutherland plays John Klute, a small town private investigator, whose search for a missing man leads him to a high-priced New York City call-girl named Bree Daniels, played by Jane Fonda. Bree keeps thinking she hears noises and has the feeling someone is following her. This story element combined with spooky music conveys an air of mystery, a sense that an unseen character lurks in the background.

    It's an interesting premise. But the story is thin, and the film's payoff at the end is disappointing. The weak story transfers responsibility of entertainment to the two lead characters: Klute and Bree. And with Sutherland's character so reticent and stoic, "Klute" turns out to be mostly a character study of the call-girl, and therefore a cinematic vehicle for Fonda.

    Although I'm not convinced she deserved an academy award for her performance, she does do a fine job. But there just isn't that much else to this film. It is very, very slow. Scenes are long and drawn out. Stylistically, "Klute" reminds me of "The Conversation" (1974). The film also is vaguely similar in style to some of Dario Argento's "giallos", minus the horror element, and minus Argento's fantastic cinematography.

    Most viewers like this film because of Fonda's performance. And that's certainly a valid criterion. Far fewer people recommend the film for its story or plot. If you are a Jane Fonda fan, "Klute" will be a real treat. If you are looking for a chilling mystery with lots of plot twists, you might want to look elsewhere.
  • Permeated by a kind of haughty, stoned decadence, Alan J. Pakula's "Klute" concerns a sexy, shaggy prostitute in N.Y.C. who is the only real link to a missing family man from suburbia; a close friend of the man asserts himself as detective on the case, and after questioning the girl and trailing her, he finds himself drawn to her. Billed as a mystery-thriller, "Klute" is more of a dramatic character study, with preconceived plot threads devised by two screenwriters who can barely keep their secrets from spilling out. The final moments which piece the story together don't ring true (starting about the time Jane Fonda attacks Donald Sutherland and runs out into the street), but until then it's a dandy show-piece for Fonda, who gives an Oscar-winning performance. The ins-and-outs of the hooker-biz aren't really explored, but we get all we need just by listening to Fonda's dialogue (her complaints to her psychiatrist, her need for Sutherland's companionship) and by seeing her living alone in her apartment. For the actress, it's stellar work; for director Pakula, it's a bit thin around the edges. ***1/2 from ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jane Fonda plays a prostitute or call girl (The difference being about $75,000.00 a year) and runs into Klute ( a detective,who is investigating a murder)...Jane Fonda's role is whereby she is emotionally neglected, and her inability to cope reflects her socially adverse environment!! Jane Fonda's mental resolve is broken down in bits and pieces, one moment is devoted to confusion, the next to raging anger, all of her actions are due to unexplained frustration and discontentment!! Bree's (Jane Fonda's) intransigence with rational thought intensifies throughout the entire film, and Klute (Donald Sutherland) is blasted with red light district depravity from all sides.. New York City evokes a natural callousness by being extremely disconcerting to everyone's situation!! For a prostitute to have any subjectivity by way of feelings is just not taken into consideration!! What choice does a venue like New York City really have when heinous crimes are ubiquitous in how they accompany a second hand on a clock?

    The acting is compelling in this movie!! The early seventies spread out a welcome mat for all the diverse, stigmatic, cultural stereotypes!! Movies about sub level poverty, minority dilemmas, and prostitutes, invoked a sense of intellectual awareness that these groups of people had about conscious stricken-ed ideas and doubts, hence, they engaged in a situational pontification just like everyone else!! The dreary scenario of prostitution and violent crimes provide pathos for the overall despondence everyone is victimized by, and capitulation to what appears to be the least ugly choice out of many catastrophic ones!! This wry insensitivity is what compounds the underclass' fears about how they are not even considered statistics!! Expenditure involving prostitution delves into the element of psychological nurturing!! Viewing this whole rigmarole very clinically, you would be given this very pragmatic advice from Bree (Jane Fonda) "Do not squander your money for an hour long excursion with a psycho whore, buy a used dishwasher instead!!" The movie audience has not missed the point!! In this movie, life does not make any sense for anybody!!
  • "Klute" is a sleek neo-noir thriller, a moving, troubling love story, and a showcase for one of cinema's most gripping performances, that of Jane Fonda as prostitute Bree Daniel. Donald Sutherland as Klute, a small-town cop on a mission of the heart in the big city, is the perfect foil to Fonda / Bree. The film is also a time capsule of hippie attitudes, styles, pleasures and paranoias. It is at times quite scary, creating an atmosphere of twisted menace. Like noirs of old, it offers glimpses into the lives of the rich and the fallen, and crackerjack dialogue.

    Fonda's multiple award-winning performance in "Klute" is, alone, reason enough to see the movie. You can't take your eyes off her. She is, second-by-second, fascinating. Look away for one eyeblink, and you miss something, something spectacular. I don't know if there has ever been prostitute anything like Bree Daniel, but I know plenty of less colorfully-employed women very much like her. Fonda plays Bree as a sort of live-action, post-Friedan, feminist essay. Fonda / Bree is, by turns, convincingly terrified, vulnerable, invulnerable, vicious, tender, powerful, weak and victimized, manipulative, bruised, flush, hungry and sated. Fonda externalizes the combination of attraction and revulsion that heterosexual women have been feeling for men ever since Eve. She also creates a convincing character you can fully believe hick Klute would fall for – and would eventually break his heart. She's the bright, shiny object and he is the hypnotized puppy. Watching him fall for her, you rejoice for her – a good man will rescue her! But you worry for him. Bree can be quite the merciless headcase.

    Bree's profession as prostitute is not the film's only avenue to commenting on what it means to be a woman; Bree is also an actress. Before we see her service a client, we see her on a call for an advertisement for cosmetics. We see that society condones the objectification of women as models and actresses and manikins in cosmetic ads. We see how utterly brutal and dehumanizing that demand for female flesh is. The ruthless objectification of actresses and models makes the regard a john shows Bree when she goes on a "date" seem benign by comparison. In commenting on women by commenting on acting, "Klute" would make a great second show in a double feature with "All About Eve." Fonda isn't just something to watch, she is something to hear. One of the recurrent themes of the film is surreptitious listening to recordings of voices and surreptitious study of others' written words. Several characters do it, some with benign motivations, some with quiet evil and twisted ones. I've never been as aware of Fonda's spoke voice as in this film, and her voice is jewel-like in its precision and allure. This isn't just a great movie to watch, it's a great one to *hear.* Michael Small's score is perfection. "Klute" is a small, sometimes claustrophobic, urban film, and Small's score never overwhelms; it is, in its quiet way, indispensible to the film's sense of perversion and menace, and then, subtly and believably, when the film becomes a love story, the score eases and enhances that transition. Just listening to the jazzy, low-key, intimate trumpet, you know you are hearing the soundtrack of two troubled people who are falling in love and whose love faces a rocky road. During one scene Bree services an elderly, Ashkenazi client, and the score comes right along, sounding like the cimbalom an inn in Mitteleuropa.

    Donald Sutherland, as Klute, plays the "fixed foot that makes no show to move" to Bree's glitter and drama. Both Sutherland the actor and Klute the character are willing to stand back and let Fonda absorb the audience's attention. That's quite remarkable; how often in recent films has a male actor / character allowed a woman so much spotlight? Klute's quietude and stoicism are no accident, though. He is playing a strong, good, old fashioned man, one more about actions than words. He is a hero in the Gary Cooper mold.

    That old fashioned heroism is a great surprise in this movie. "Klute" wallows in, and celebrates, post-censorship, post-Woodstock freedoms and indulgences. We see naked body parts, prostitutes and madams and heroin addicts and perverts, and, in a cameo, Candy Darling, Andy Warhol's star. We couldn't see this world with such detail back in the old days – but the film's heart *is* back in the old days. The good guy, Klute, the hero who rides into the wild west – hooker and drug addict run Manhattan – is a very straight, white, male cop. In this hippie, let it all hang out world, where the rich white man is utterly corrupt, the small town, working class guy is the hero.

    "Klute" is rife with small performances by character actors, and small moments, that make every minute worthwhile. Charles Cioffi is frighteningly convincing. Vivian Nathan, as Bree's shrink, comes across as a real shrink. A narcissistic casting director who childishly and maliciously toys with Bree sets your teeth on edge. A black cop is solid. Roy Scheider is the pimp you love to hate.

    There are priceless small touches that show intelligence and care with which director Pakula made the film. Betty Murray, as a loving wife, looks at her husband across a dinner table with such a look of love that that husband's disappearance becomes a real tragedy. Bree's apartment includes a sketch of John F. Kennedy; that sketch tells us something essential about Bree that nothing else in the film does. A group of powerful men discusses a missing person's case; Klute is the rube at the table. We know because, in a brief shot, we see that though he's wearing a suit, he's also wearing white sweat socks, visible as his slacks ride high up on his calves.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Klute" begins as a missing person investigation and develops into a romance, a character study and a murder mystery. The tone of the piece is set by Alan J Pakula's careful style of direction, Gordon Willis' dark cinematography and a steady pace which is very much in keeping with the rather cerebral and emotional nature of many of the developments which unfold as the story progresses.

    When family man and research engineer Tom Gruneman had been missing for six months and the FBI had failed to locate him, his wife and his boss Peter Cable (Charles Cioffi) hired John Klute (Donald Sutherland) to carry out his own investigation. The FBI had discovered an obscene letter that Gruneman had apparently sent to a New York prostitute called Bree (Jane Fonda) and they had interviewed her but she was unable to help as she couldn't remember having met Gruneman.

    Having been given Bree's address by the police, Klute rents a room in the building where she lives and after she refuses to talk to him he tapes her phone calls and starts to follow her. His second attempt to get her to cooperate is more successful and they then begin a dialogue. She confirms that she doesn't remember Gruneman but she'd had one client who was a sadist who'd beaten her up and nearly killed her. It also emerges that she'd been receiving "breather calls" which unsettled her and one night when she hears sounds from the skylight above her room, it convinces her that she's being stalked.

    Her fear and vulnerability make her more appreciative of the protection that Klute provides and an uneasy attraction develops between them. She tells Klute about the way in which her meeting with the sadist had been arranged and their subsequent pursuit of further information about this, brings to light the involvement of her ex-pimp Frank Ligourin (Roy Scheider) and two other prostitutes called Jane and Arlyn (Dorothy Tristan). What Klute learns during this process leads him to the view that the sadist is someone who knew Gruneman and this proves to be the critical piece of information which enables the culprit's identity to be confirmed and the mystery surrounding Gruneman's disappearance to be solved.

    At various points throughout the movie, Bree is seen discussing her troubled emotional state with a psychiatrist and these sessions reveal that she enjoys the control that she's able to exert over her clients and this, to some extent, provides an antidote to the regular demoralising rejections she experiences when auditioning for modelling and acting jobs. She's also a woman who's developed a tough exterior but in reality she's also intimidated by the belief that she's being stalked and uneasy about her feelings for Klute because they represent a potential loss of control. Jane Fonda conveys the intensity of her character's feelings very skilfully in a magnificent performance for which she understandably won the Best Actress Oscar in 1972.

    John Klute's background as a cop in rural Pennsylvania didn't include any experience of dealing with missing person investigations and he had no knowledge of New York but these drawbacks were regarded as being of minor importance to Peter Cable and Mrs Gruneman because they felt that, as a friend of Gruneman, he would have the drive and commitment to pursue the search through to its conclusion. As Klute, Donald Sutherland shows his character's unwillingness to be distracted from completing his assignment efficiently and also the disdain with which he regards the sleazier side of life in New York. He's a sober and rather reticent person but also reliable and trustworthy. Sutherland's portrayal of this man is extremely subtle and accomplished and worthy of great praise.

    Many of the characters featured in the story are victimised or feel that they are. Three people are murdered, Mrs Gruneman is widowed and the perpetrator considers himself a victim of the call girls who exploit the dark fantasies of their clients and bring out dangerous responses which cause great harm. Furthermore, Bree is a victim of extreme violence, obscene letters and phone calls, Jane's betrayal and also the constant threat she feels under when being stalked. An atmosphere of threat is also generated visually by a preponderance of heavily shadowed areas which suggest that danger is being harboured in their midst and also by the way in which the visible areas of the screen are shrunk by various means suggesting an oppressive sense of entrapment.

    "Klute" is a thoughtful and memorable movie in which the exceptional contributions made by Fonda, Sutherland and Willis are very significant. Its ambiguous conclusion also neatly avoids a Hollywood type of ending and in so doing keeps faith with the uncertainty which is such an inherent part of Bree and Klute's relationship.
  • This is without a doubt the most intensely atmospheric film I've ever seen, and certainly the best, tied perhaps only with Chinatown. Pakula's eye shows us the true grit and grime of the city that never sleeps. Klute was packaged as a suspense thriller, but it is so much more than that. It is also a character study (either of Bree herself, or the city itself). It is a love story. It is a study of urban stereotypes. And did I mention the music? The eerie scrapes, nervous marimba and fearsome humming will really creep you out, but the warm trumpets and delicate strings on the flipside are warm and enveloping. Anyway, back to the film. The slow scenes are equally crucial as the action scenes; the gorgeous sequence of Bree and John Klute shopping for oranges in the city market at night is a powerful statement that love can exist between opposites. Fonda's brilliantly improvised therapy scenes are explosive as they are heartrending. No actress, living or dead, can touch her. As the beautiful and confused Bree she is both vulnerable and in charge. The unraveling of her psyche is fascinating to watch, as is John Klute's repulsion and fascination with "the city folk". The final confrontation will disturb and haunt you for days. Bottom line, essential. No film will take you into its world quite like this one. They just don't make 'em like this anymore.
  • Dej3 December 1998
    Alan Pakula created one of his most memsmerizing and hauntingly beautiful pieces with this film. The love affair between Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda is nothing less than one of the most realistic and touching developments put onto film. Watch this movie for just one scene and you'll be amazed - when the 2 principals shop for fruit, watch how he selects a melon, and when Sutherland casually puts his hand on Fonda - it's enough to send shivers down the spine of any woman. This is when we see that great acting is an art too subtle to define and limit with categorical definitions - it simply IS art.
  • Jane Fonda was honored this month with the American Film Institute's 42nd AFI Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala event in Los Angeles. In tribute to Fonda, AFI showed a retrospective of her works. At the AFI Silver Screen Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD (a Washington, DC suburb), I sat in its smallest theatre to watch my favorite Fonda film, KLUTE, the 1971 mystery/thriller for which Fonda won an Academy award for Best Actress.

    KLUTE is an enigma. Dark, in its cinematography and its subject matter. A thriller/mystery whose mystery is revealed midway through the film because it is not the 'who done it' that is at the heart of this film. At its essence KLUTE is an invitation to witness a lifestyle we would never want to inhabit but piques our curiosity and titillates. Fonda's character, Bree Daniels, is an aspiring actress and an experienced call girl. Her three-act plays performed in hotel rooms where anonymous men are her appreciative collaborators. She confides to her psychiatrist that these dalliances with men are better than her acting auditions because in the former she always gets to play the part.

    Fonda gives flesh and complexity to her character. She is physically, emotionally and mentally agile in this role with moments of brilliance that are startlingly effective. Donald Sutherland plays her foil and later protector with a sameness that makes him charming. The word 'nerd' had not come into fashion when this movie was made but Sutherland's John Klute is just that. A moral square from a small Pennsylvania town who is thrust into New York City's seamy scenes of drugs, prostitution and free love. His straightness is not hypocrisy. He is not like her other Johns. His steadfastness is the lure that eventually catches her.

    The two other stars of the movie are the cinematography by Gordon Willis and the film's use of audio. Best known for his work as Director of Photography on the Godfather trilogy,Willis didn't receive an Oscar nomination for his work on this film but he should have. KLUTE is his palette for contrasting scenes of flat color, silhouette and neo-noir realism. Martin Scorsese says of Willis' work in this film: "There are movies that change the whole way in which films are made, like Klute, where Gordon Willis's photography on the film is so textured, and, they said, too dark."

    We hear a lot of Fonda's voice in KLUTE. At the psychiatry sessions, in the acting auditions, in the one-sided conversations her character has with men who call to introduce themselves and set up dates.

    The murderer in KLUTE likes to audiotape his interactions with women and he seems obsessed with Daniels. We watch the tapes twirl on a small recorder as he listens to her "come hither" chatter over and over, her words inadvertently giving him permission to confuse his acts of violence against prostitutes as free-spirited nonconformity, "…there's nothing wrong in what you want."

    Private Investigator, Klute is also listening after he wiretaps Daniels' apartment to acquire information that will help him solve what he thinks is a simple missing person case.

    In KLUTE we are eager eavesdroppers and voyeurs. Fonda makes us want to watch. She strips off her clothes with deliberate nonchalance. Her seventies bohemian haute couture and bob hair style brings a smile. Her vulnerability in the riveting, minutes-long, close up scene at the film's climax is powerful. She has become Bree Daniels and we feel her pain.

    If this film were made today, Director Alan Pakula would likely elongate the climax by adding slow motion or slowing the cuts and putting more light on the subject to extend the fear. Yet, he makes KLUTE interesting to watch throughout.

    Sutherland's pouty lips and placid eyes make him as adorable as a beagle. The panoramic shot of models lined up for a cosmetics casting call is fascinating. Roy Scheider's easy meditation on "pimpdom" is at once sexy and dangerous, and fun to watch. The scenes of the late 60's/early 70's disco culture are spot on.

    Do yourself a favor and give KLUTE a viewing. AFI will celebrate Jane Fonda at its tribute which will be shown this month on both TNT network and Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

    DIR/PROD Alan J. Pakula; SCR Andy Lewis, Dave Lewis. US, 1971, color, 114 min. RATED R.
  • Klute (1971)

    Director Alan Pakula's willingness to slow the pace down and let the grimy reality of 1970 New York City creep in is a trademark of this now-classic. The main crime plot itself is a twist on a twist, and in reality isn't much to hang on to, unless you realize right away that the plot is about a relationship, and the detective stuff, in good Hitchcock fashion, is a vehicle for the romance.

    But what an original romance this is, and pulled thin and taut, depending equally on Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland, an unlikely pair who, by the end, almost define the feeling of the movie as endlessly incipient. They, too, are always waiting to happen.

    Klute is a necessary piece in the bubble of great films of this late 60s early 70s period. Compare its feeling to something like Billy Wilder's The Apartment for how ordinary New York is handled. The fact that Fonda plays a prostitute is another issue altogether, and a sign of America's willingness to have frank and formerly forbidden subjects for their films. Of course, a closer comparison is the 1969 Midnight Cowboy with its own grittiness and prostitution, and Klute holds up pretty well against that more intense and moving breakthrough film by Schlensinger.

    This is Pakula's second film, and a long career follows with some great and varied movies, but in a way it gels here, and feels nicely resolved and mature (he is in his 40s when it was made). It's not sensational by any means, a small victory in itself. Very much recommended, a suck you into another milieu kind of film, with more sweetness than you expect.
  • Alan J. Pakula's intelligent and thought-provoking character study about the life of high-class prostitute/struggling actress Bree Daniels and her emotional unraveling as private investigator John Klute(Donald Sutherland) probes the seedy world she lives in while searching for his missing friend.

    One of the '70's finest due in part to a high level of craftmanship in every department: Pakula's deliberate pacing and treatment of the script, Michael Small's tingling music with the soft-screaming voices, perfectly cast supporting players who are riveting even in the smallest of scenes and, most importantly, superb cinematographer Gordon Willis's dark and shadowy look that almost always presents somebody lurking in the fore-and-backgrounds in nearly all of Fonda's scenes giving Klute a disturbingly intense complexity that is absent in most thrillers.

    There are a few film performances that I would say rank as great art: Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc, Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box, Brando in Streetcar, Pacino in The Godfather, Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence, DeNiro in Taxi Driver, and Jane Fonda in Klute. Even if she brings a sneer to your face these days, Klute shows she was an artist at the height of her craft: her obviously improvised therapy scenes, her use of silence and stillness in the film's climax, her body language whenever Bree is alone on screen, the long uninterrupted takes where she and Sutherland interact, and especially the sequence where Bree shuts down and goes to a club to relieve the mounting tension only to wind up curling in her pimp's lap show a beautifully studied and carefully crafted exploration of a human being trapped by her environment but who oh-so-desperately wants out. Pauline Kael said at the time about her work here that "no other American actress can touch her": nobody has since either.

    Donald Sutherland is a consistantly strong actor who compliments Fonda quite well; his John Klute is a quiet skeptic who's both repelled and fascinated by Bree's world and when these two are alone on screen, a unique intelligence is displayed and it makes for compelling viewing. It's a testament to the director and the actors that in spite of the shag haircuts, street slang, and funky '70's wardrobe the 31 year old film holds up as well as it does.

    An almost perfect adult thriller that is still powerful, scary and penetrating and makes most other character-driven pieces look amateurish and clumsy.

    F.T.R.- watch for a sexy, pre-Knots Landing Kevin Dobson as the tablemate of the young man Fonda seductively teases in the club.
  • This justly famous film by Alan Pakula (The Parallax View, Sophie's Choice, All the President's men) ostensibly starring a very young Donald Sutherland as a small town cop turned private investigator who searches for a missing friend in big bad NYC would have qualified as a well-made but standard hard-boiled mystery if it were not for the stellar performance of Jane Fonda as the call girl whose help he enlists for his search, which lifts it into the category of a classic: rarely in film has a performance let us know a character so thoroughly. Advisory: drug use and language, scary but not too graphic violence, sex rather restrained by current standards.
  • When Tom Gruneman goes missing, the FBI can offer no solutions to his wife other than a handful of obscene letters he had previously written to a New York call girl. With no progress, the family decide to employ Tom's friend, John Klute, to act as private detective. Klute's first step is to seek out the call girl, Bree Daniels who unsurprisingly cannot remember this specific one trick. Klute sticks with her though and finds her a confused character. As he gets drawn into her, his simple missing persons case grows into something much more deadly.

    With a delivery that is unmistakably Pakula this is a strange mix of a film that works in some ways and could have been better in others. As a detective mystery it could have been stronger and have more a sense of urgency and those looking for the usual "bad guy/good guy" stuff may find themselves a bit frustrated by the apparent slow pace. However after taking a minute to get into it I found it convincing that we didn't know that much about what was brewing – in the same way that Klute didn't. Pakula delivers the story with a sense of slightly paranoid foreboding that befits the city setting and the fragile state of our main character.

    I say main rather than title because although Klute has the billing, the film is as interesting because of the character of Bree as it is because of the detective story. This is helped by an Oscar-winning turn from Fonda, who is very much the heart of the film. The mystery is still the mystery but she fills so much silence with her convincing character, full of nervous energy and contradictions. Whether or not she is representative of the call girls she spent time with before the film doesn't really matter but what is important is that she feels like a very real person. By surprising contrast Donald Sutherland plays his part as if someone had forgotten to plug him in; he is flat and rather dull but perhaps he was directed to not distract or compete. The rest of the cast sees some nice support from Cioffi and Scheider but in the acting stakes Fonda owns the film.

    A slow film perhaps but one that draws you in if you preserve with what at first appears to be very cold and dull. The mystery aspect gives the film a direction while Pakula's cold and close direction gives it atmosphere but it is Fonda's performance that has the biggest impact and is the main reason the film works.
  • slonob27 July 2002
    Did you ever wonder if there's such a thing as too much Jane Fonda? I though not. As her carear has endured, so has the freshness of this picture. She delivers an endless assault of very dated street talk in this creeper of a film. To make it more pallatable to an audience of faux sophisticates, her character is frequently shown explaining herself to a very cliched Ayan Rand knock-off of a psychiatrist. These scenes push the dialog from a well-intentioned but failed attempt at being hip to an excruciating exercise in pretention. Trust and suspicion, power and dependency, status and lowliness are all thrust in your face in a futile attempt to gain legitimacy. It seems the only point of this film is to offend mores that are already extinct. I have to wonder if it ever worked.
  • Klute is part of Pakula's Paranoia Trilogy which includes the Parallax View and All the President's Men. Someone on this board compared Klute with The Devil's Own and said the latter was a bad film because Ford and Pitt didn't get along. I hope he was kidding. But you can read my review of that thing some other time.

    I saw Klute on TCM and will have to get it from Netflix and watch it again. It was so dark I could barely see a thing. And in reading the message board, there were scenes described I never saw due to losing my cable signal.

    So why review it - well, because it is an excellent film without what I missed, with a perfect performance by Jane Fonda.

    The plot concerns a private detective (Donald Sutherland) searching for a missing man who winds up working with a part-time call girl (Fonda).

    Pakula has the atmosphere down pat - dark, murky, low class, and seedy, filled with users and drug addicts.

    Bree is a fascinating character. Once a full-time call girl, she left the lucrative business after taking a terrible beating from a john. She is now an aspiring actress, using an Irish brogue for a Joan of Arc monologue, auditioning for commercials, etc. She takes hooking jobs because she needs the money. She likes the control she has when she's with paying customers. What she fears is a real, intimate, close relationship. Underneath the hard shell is a vulnerable woman afraid of the dark.

    Klute (Sutherland) rents an apartment in her building as part of his detective work. He tapes her encounters and follows her, finally approaching her to ask about the missing man, Grunemann. The two become lovers.

    Sutherland and Fonda give very natural performances, realistic and powerful ones. Both characters in a way have hard shells - Klute seems dispassionate, Bree can be abrasive and angry.

    There was suspense, but Klute succeeds more as a character study than as a thriller, in my opinion, and as the story of two people from two different worlds being drawn to one another, and what that means for the future.

    A disturbing film with a thought-provoking ending. I look forward to seeing it again, and let's hope I can make out more in the scenes the next time. For a film that took as long as three hours per day to set the lights, there isn't much.
  • Not only were the Seventies a great period for the American Cinema, but the decade was a great time for New York Location filming. I'm convinced that this was the main catalyst for the maturation of American filmmaking. Alan Pakula's KLUTE is no exception. Working with the cinematographer Gordon Willis (ASC), Pakula paints a modish but bleak picture of Gotham, a city still hung-over from the heady excesses of the "swingin' sixties," and the effects of the Great Society. A bygone New York, and, in some respects, a better one.

    KLUTE stands along the all-but-forgotten PARALLAX VIEW as Pakula's masterworks.
  • The only thing making Klute a mediocre film rather than a dismal film is Jane Fonda's stellar performance. Her character study of a New York prostitute is superb acting. Fonda really shines in this role, giving the audience a glimpse of the complex workings of a call girl's psyche.

    The rest of the performances were run-of-the mill to lame. Sutherland has done much better work in other films, as he kind of lumbers along. The rest of the cast is forgettable.

    The story is rather boring and moves at a snails pace. This could be a good candidate for a remake in that the concept is interest; yet, it simply doesn't deliver. Rating should be 3 stars, but Fonda catapults it to 5 of 10 stars.
An error has occured. Please try again.