KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (15)

By: Melissa Gira Grant
August 15, 2017

One of 25 installments in a series of enthusiastic posts analyzing and celebrating a few of our favorite neo-noir movies from the Sixties (1964–1973).

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KLUTE | d. ALAN J. PAKULA | 1971

Jane Fonda’s bare call-girl back stars in this film, yes, framed in a cascade of liquid dark sequins while she’s working. But what takes her performance as Bree Daniels from sex to radical is her cool. By 1970 it’s OK to be a call girl if it’s to fuel an ambition for something higher; Daniels’s desires are for movement itself. “I was trying to get away from a world that I had known because I didn’t think it was very good for me, and I found myself looking up its ass,” Bree says, shot over her psychiatrist’s shoulder, a conversation she is paying for. Her time is composed of tense rotations: telephone receivers, surveillance tapes, the watch on her wrist accompanying her on a circuit from model calls to hotel rooms to her flat, where a private detective named John Klute has moved in downstairs. He is recording her calls. She is not his prey; she is a listening device.

Klute creates the revolutionary Fonda, visually: the shag haircut of her design she would wear for years, the husky and commanding voice which she later said was evidence she had found her full self as a woman in this role. Bree Daniels is the 1970s coming together visually, too, in shadows and dust. Her New York is what will become known as a combat zone. The dread on the screen is for the future. The director will make All the President’s Men five years after this; Fonda herself will go on to make Nixon’s enemies list, subject to government surveillance for her antiwar activism, including a documentary of one her Vietnam tours with Klute co-star Donald Sutherland.

As her call girl character generates secret tapes for Sutherland’s detective, he falls in love with her. “They’re usually nervous,” she tells her psychiatrist, speaking of her clients. “Which is fine, because I’m not.” She’s not seducing him, and to Klute, her movements are — no matter what their intentions may be — evidence of a crime he is paid to solve. Bree leads us with him, into forlorn crash pads, a jewel of Meatpacking District disco. He stays up with her in the dark while we watch, waiting for a predator who doesn’t show. What they share, more than intimacy, is paranoia. In their most affectionate moment, Klute hands Bree the tapes.

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KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Series Introduction | Kio Stark on THE KILLERS | Alix Lambert on BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | Judith Zissman on ALPHAVILLE | Mark Kingwell on HARPER | Lynn Peril on BLOW-UP | Devin McKinney on SECONDS | Drew Daniel on BRANDED TO KILL | Luc Sante on POINT BLANK | Gordon Dahlquist on LE SAMOURAÏ | Alice Boone on LE CERCLE ROUGE | Brian Berger on COTTON COMES TO HARLEM | Adrienne Crewe on PERFORMANCE | David Levine on THE FRENCH CONNECTION | Dan Fox on GET CARTER | Melissa Gira Grant on KLUTE | Brandi Brown on SHAFT | Kaleb Horton on FAT CITY | Peter Doyle on THE GETAWAY | Sarah Weinman on HICKEY & BOGGS | Annie Nocenti on BADLANDS | Josh Glenn on CHARLEY VARRICK | Gary Groth on THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE | Lisa Jane Persky on THE LONG GOODBYE | Mimi Lipson on MEAN STREETS | Sherri Wasserman on SOYLENT GREEN.

MORE MOVIES at HILOBROW: KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: 25 neo-noirs of the Sixties (1964–1973) | James Parker’s BOURNE VARIATIONS series | Alix Lambert’s SÉRIE NOIRE series | Jacob Mikanowski’s SCREEN TIME series | Josh Glenn’s SHOCKING BLOCKING series | Joanne McNeil’s ALL MY STARS series | MORE: including dozens of HILO HERO items on movie directors and actors.

MORE ENTHUSIASM at HILOBROW

KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.

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