Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Movies I Love: Klute

Some movies (KLUTE, THE MISFITS, THE LION IN WINTER, CHARADE) I never need to see again, as I saw them so many times that every moment of them is imprinted on my brain. This 1971 Alan Pakula film made an enormous impression on me at the time, and I returned to it several times. Everything about it worked so perfectly: the creepy atmosphere, New York in the early '70s, Jane Fonda's best ever performance as Bree Daniels the call-girl who thinks she is in control of her 'Johns' - and Donald Sutherland in another of his best roles as the withdrawn detective John Klute being drawn into her web as he becomes fascinated by her. Those scenes of Jane as Bree totally in character out on the crowded streets, or visiting clients like Mr Goldfarb while Klute watches, or alone in her apartment, as Michael Small's score ramps up the feeling she is being watched and then there is Gordon Willis' stunning photography.

Alan Pakula, who used to produce those Robert Mulligan films like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER, BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL, had a great eye for detail and certainly knew how to get the best out of his actresses: Liza Minnelli in THE STERILE CUCKOO (POOKIE), Maggie Smith in LOVE AND PAIN AND THE WHOLE DAMN THING, and Jane Fonda here. I liked Jane in BARABARELLA and those other frothy confections of hers and her Gloria was totally compelling in 1969's THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY for Sidney Pollack. Here as Bree she is the bit-part actress who turns tricks (checking her watch midway), visits her analyst as she discusses her reasons for wanting to be in control. Then slowly she and the visiting detective get to know each other, he sees her at her worst when she is drugged and out of it, and he puts her back together. There is that lovely moment when they are out shopping and she impulsively tugs his clothes as she realises they are a couple, only to find her apartment has been violated when they return ... then the creepy climax as she ascends in the lift to the empty factory where the killer is waiting, and he pours out his hate for her and the girls like her who leech off him, which is why he killed the other girls.

Klute is investigating the disappearance of a colleague in their small town who has vanished after a trip to New York. Charles Cioffi is the concerned friend who is paying for Klute to find out what happened. We see the underbelly of the big city then, as Bree takes Klute to visit her haunts, her old pimp Roy Scheider, and friends like Rita Gam, a chic lesbian, and Shirley Stoler. Then there is that desperate addicted prostitute Arlyn Page (Dorothy Tristan) whom the murderer also visits as she is supposed to have kept a diary .... Bree listening to the tape playback of Arlyn's murder as the killer has her cornered is part of the stunning climax - it is one of the best ever female performances. The aftermath is nice too with them leaving the city, but maybe she will be back ... I just loved everything about this, including the great widescreen vistas and the quiet intimate moments. It looks a little dated now with those early '70s fashions and hair-do's but that does not matter. Jane in that black sequin backdress dress is as glamorous as Dietrich in the '30s ...

Pakula did it again with THE PARALLAX VIEW in 1974, that other stunning conspiracy thriller capturing the paranoia of the times, as Warren Beatty sets out to discover what exactly is happening to all the witnesses of a politican assassination. It is another riveting experience and a key '70s film like KLUTE, CHINATOWN, THE STEPFORD WIVES and Pakula's huge success ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN. Pakula (1928-1998, he was killed in a freak accident while driving) also directed hits like SOPHIE'S CHOICE and PRESUMED INNOCENT, where Harrison Ford scores in this Scott Turow thriller.

Coming up: more People We Like: Peter Finch, Alan Bates, David Warner, Malcolm McDowell, and a brace of new European titles: 6 Catherine Deneuve films, 3 more Romy Schneiders, 2 more Anouk Aimees, 4 Gerard Philipe discoveries including Vadim's LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES with Jeanne Moreau! and Antonioni's rare OBERWALD MYSTERY with Monica Vitti, and his segment in I TRI VINTI.

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