Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, February 12, 2012


This week's movie was an old one I saw at the library and decided to check out ... Klute. Here's a bit about it from Wikipedia ...

Klute is a 1971 film which tells the story of a prostitute who assists a detective in solving a missing person's case. It stars Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi and Roy Scheider. The movie was written by Andy Lewis and Dave Lewis and directed by Alan J. Pakula. Klute was the first installment of what informally came to be known as Pakula's "paranoia trilogy". The other two films in the trilogy are The Parallax View (1974) and All The President's Men (1976).

The first thing that struck me about the movie was the color - it seemed to have a kind of brilliant look to it - and the next was that I'd never seen such a young-looking Donald Sutherland :) The 1971 movie seemed pretty good, if somewhat disturbing, and the issue of prostitution is still relevant ... I remember an episode of The West Wing in which Josh talks to feminist Amy about it ...

Josh: Eleanor Roosevelt once made a speech to the UN General Assembly saying that we should decriminalize prostitution .... How's making prostitution illegal not supressing women's rights?
Amy: How is making heroin use illegal not supressing a heroin user's rights?
Josh: It is, but heroin's bad for you.
Amy: So's being a prostitute.
Josh How am I not supposed to call you a hypocrite when you say that the government shouldn't tell women what to do with their bodies.
Amy: Exercise some self-control, I guess. Prostitution is about the subjugation of women by men for profit.
Josh: But the profit goes to the women.
Amy: In some cases. But I know of no little girl, and neither do you, who says "I wanna be a prostitute when I grow up." They do it 'cause they're forced to out of economic circumstances. And dire economic need is a form of coersion.

It could be argued that some women become prostitutes out of choice, but I think that's rare, and the movie explores the kind of subtleties that can taint free will to the point where it's unrecognizable as such. Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four in his review. Here's a bit of it ...

BY ROGER EBERT / January 1, 1971

[...] "Klute" doesn't scare us very satisfactorily, maybe because it's kind of schizo. The director is Alan J. Pakula, whose concern is all too much with plot, and it gets in the way of the unusual and interesting relationship between Bree and Klute. But how do you develop a relationship between a prostitute with hang-ups and a square suburban cop? "Klute" does it by making the cop into a person of restraint and dignity, a man who is genuinely concerned about this girl he's met. His attitude is what makes their love relationship so absorbing. Usually, in the movies, it's just assumed the lovers were drawn toward each other by magnetism or concealed springs or something.

The scenes between Fonda and Sutherland are very good, then, and Bree is further developed in scenes showing her trying to get out of the trade and into something straight. She takes acting lessons, she auditions to model for cosmetics ads. She talks to her shrink (in scenes that sound improvised and exhibit Fonda's undeniable intelligence).

Intelligence. I suppose that's the word. In "Klute" you don't have two attractive acting vacuums reciting speeches at each other. With Fonda and Sutherland, you have actors who understand and sympathize with their characters, and you have a vehicle worthy of that sort of intelligence. So the fact that the thriller stuff doesn't always work isn't so important.


Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Nice. I like both those stars, though I missed this movie when it came around. I might have to get it on Netflicks. I like intelligent acting.

10:42 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Denny,

Yes, well acted but kind of depressing, though. Strange to think the same director did All The President's Men.

12:29 PM  

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