the Thinking Chicks Guide to Movies

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Klute (1971)

Reviewed on 2008 April 17

Low-key thriller from the early ’70s, about a private investigator trying to find the whereabouts of a missing friend and protect a prostitute from someone trying to kill her. Several people have noted the fact that it’s seldom seen on TV, and when I viewed the whole thing for the first time last night I was impressed.

John Klute (Donald Sutherland) is recruited by a friend to locate a missing husband. There’s not a lot to go on initially, but his vanishing may be related to some menacing letters and phone calls directed to call girl Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda, in an Oscar ® -winning role) in New York. Klute decides to visit her, and she’s not happy about his intrusion in her life.

Bree may not be the most likable person on earth, but we really don’t hold her reception of Klute against her, because we realize she’s not too happy about anything. She’s half-heartedly trying to leave the life, and a great early scene where she’s by herself in her apartment almost tells us more about her than the scenes where she talks to her shrink. She begins to warm up to the stalwart Klute and when she feels increasingly threatened by a stalker, she trusts him despite herself.

Fonda was great as the smart, complex Bree, and I think Sutherland’s quiet performance was unfairly compared to this. I think the two balanced each other perfectly. Director Alan J. Pakula made a genuinely creepy thriller, and it’s a shame he didn’t do a pure horror movie once in his career, because he probably would have been brilliant. The unsettling score by Michael Small makes the whole thing more tense.

Three chocolate morsels and a cup of black ’70s diner coffee.


morsel morsel morsel

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