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A Movie A Day: Quint on KLUTE (1971)
Don’t feel bad about losing your virtue… Everybody always does.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Following the bloodline from yesterday’s FLASHBACK we get to the senior Sutherland in a ‘70s thriller called KLUTE co-starring Jane Fonda and Roy Scheider, directed by Alan J. Pakula (THE PARALEX VIEW and ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN). Let me start off by saying that this is a goddamn scary movie. That was a huge surprise. I found myself jumping when it was just Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda talking, that’s how well Pakula creates an atmosphere, a creepy vibe. You know someone is watching Fonda, a New York call girl named Bree Daniels, and Pakula essentially makes us voyeurs, turning the audience into the stalker. It’s a common practice now, especially on TV with camerawork that always acts like a POV (see 24 or THE SHIELD), but for some reason it really kind of made me feel dirty while watching KLUTE.

The scene that made me jump is a regular conversation and Fonda casually opens a closet door about 40 seconds into the cut (long take) and Sutherland is reflected. Keep in mind, she’s talking to him. I knew he was in the room, just off camera, he’s been speaking… so I don’t know why it made me jump, but it did. Add on Michael Small’s incredible score, very reminiscent of Goblin’s work on Argento’s films, and you have a creepy little thriller. That’s actually an interesting point. The movie feels like what a Dario Argento giallo would be like if the focus wasn’t on the kills and the killer(s). Here you follow a small town Pennsylvania cop who takes a leave of absence to investigate a friend’s disappearance. His friend was a good family man and businessman, but the people investigating his disappearance find some disturbing letters in his study, addressed to a call girl in New York. The pieces don’t fit, so Sutherland goes to New York to solve the puzzle and hopefully find his missing friend. His only real wellspring of information is Fonda’s struggling actress/successful hooker. As they figure out the mystery people start dying around them, but the focus is always on the relationship between Bree Daniels and John Klute.

Daniels admits to being a master manipulator, but I don’t think she quite understood how much she needed someone like Klute. Once he falls for her, he cares for her in a way she hasn’t been cared for once in her life. It scares her and she lashes out. Fonda gives a fantastic performance here, the kind of performance that makes you remember why she’s considered one of the great actresses of the era. She gives humanity to the hooker without bringing in the clichéd heart of gold. She’s a messed up person. In fact, everybody is flawed, which is the greatest appeal for me for the films of this era. No other era showed us flawed characters like the ones we get in the ‘70s. Roy Scheider pops up here, the same year he did THE FRENCH CONNECTION, but playing a radically different character. I’ve seen his pre-JAWS cop flicks, including French Connection and THE SEVEN-UPS, both are outstanding, but I wasn’t prepared to see him here. He plays Fonda’s ex-pimp, the little red devil on her shoulder… or, maybe more aptly, her Linus blanket. Whenever she feels threatened, especially emotionally, she runs to him. He plays the role with a great deal of quiet menace, but also caring. I really get the sense that he cares for her in his own special way. The identity of the killer is given away really early on. That’s not he point of the movie. If Argento was doing it, we would see the kills and the killer wouldn’t have been revealed until the end… essentially, take this film and have certain elements take two steps to the left and sit back down again and you’d have a great Dario Argento movie.

Final thoughts: This is a great flick… in fact, it would make a fantastic double feature with Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION. Sutherland and Fonda are at their best here, confident in their roles and their performances. They don’t overdo it. And Fonda is gorgeous as ever… and completely uninhibited, if you catch my drift. Yowza! The schedule for the next 7 days is: Friday, July 4th: ON GOLDEN POND (1982) Saturday, July 5th: THE COWBOYS (1972) Sunday, July 6th: THE ALAMO (1960) Monday, July 7th: SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1950) Tuesday, July 8th: WAKE OF THE RED WITCH (1949) Wednesday, July 9th: D.O.A. (1950) Thursday, July 10th: SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) Tomorrow we follow Jane Fonda a decade later to 1981’s drama ON GOLDEN POND, where she co-stars with her father, Henry Fonda, and Katherine Hepburn. -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback

Readers Talkback
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  • July 3, 2008, 6:44 p.m. CST

    1st again?

    by robotdevil

  • July 3, 2008, 6:45 p.m. CST

    Never seen this one...

    by robotdevil

    But based on your review, I'll definitely check it out.

  • July 3, 2008, 6:51 p.m. CST

    Been a long time since seeing this.

    by mrfan

    Maybe rent it again.

  • July 3, 2008, 6:53 p.m. CST

    Love Klute


    Klute is a classic. I oughta add this one to my Netflix. I'm pretty sure I've only seen the broadcast TV edit.

  • July 3, 2008, 6:55 p.m. CST

    Don't Love Pigphart5000


    At all. But I know he's just trying to stir up some shit.

  • July 3, 2008, 7:01 p.m. CST

    Can the PigEffer be BANNED, please?

    by chromedome

  • July 3, 2008, 7:10 p.m. CST



    Donald Sutherland was "Unforgettable" in this role - a perfect intense acting job - I'll never get his character outta my head - a very very subtle performance - but genius... and Jane Fonda - who now brings a snicker by mere mention of the name - to many of today's crowd (which is a shame, cause the girl can act her) - anyway - she was on fire in that role... I do remember all the controversy about how frank the sexual content was - I'm sure today's crown would fine it tame - but during the release it was the talk of the time... the tone of the movie reminds me of Play Misty for Me - this movie and that one - still brings chills about - I think. Both grand movies - although - I do wonder if films like this would work today - I tend to think not - today's movie audience tend to go for a faster cut movie - stories like Klute - I think would just seem to slow in today's time... which is a shame on some levels...'cause they are great stories. Glad to see you bringing Klute to some new light.

  • July 3, 2008, 7:11 p.m. CST


    by Gwai Lo

    I love All The President's Men. Besides Klute, any more must see 70s Pakula?

  • July 3, 2008, 8:07 p.m. CST

    Thanks for AMAD!

    by catinhat114

    A great feature on this site, Thanks for doing it Quint. Looking forward to your thoughts on "Shadow of a Doubt." Also a seriously creepy movie!

  • July 3, 2008, 8:11 p.m. CST

    Gwai Lo...

    by Aquatarkusman

    ... the Parallax View? There aren't many more, as Sophie's Choice was in the 80s

  • July 3, 2008, 8:22 p.m. CST

    No one mentioned the

    by Napoleon Park

    passionate love scene when she's moaning in ecstacy and then casually checks her wristwatch? the classic comedy moment from the film. I remember seeing this both in a theater with my dad and later at a drive in on a date. Terrific flick. Sutherland was brilliant and Fonda was an icon in those days.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:23 p.m. CST

    thanks Quint

    by MediaNerd

    Klute has been on my "to watch" list for awhile, but sounds like I may have to bump it up a few notches.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:24 p.m. CST


    by eoneon


  • July 3, 2008, 8:47 p.m. CST

    One of the worst haircuts ever

    by BobParr

    Carol Brady laughs at Jane Fonda's hair in that movie.

  • July 3, 2008, 8:53 p.m. CST

    On Golden Pond?

    by Funketeer

    Why Quint, Why?

  • July 3, 2008, 8:56 p.m. CST

    Jane Fonda is considered a great actress?

    by Crimson Dynamo

    Her line delivery always sound so fake to me - kind of like Tony Curtis or Dan Haggerty. Haggerty is the first person I ever saw as kid and thought "that guy can't act"

  • July 3, 2008, 9:10 p.m. CST

    Good take on this

    by Aloy

    I saw it a few years back (but not that many) and it holds up really well. It's always great to see how much you enjoy a film that you thought you had figured out (without the courtesy of actually ever having seen it!)

  • July 3, 2008, 9:24 p.m. CST

    Can't say I ever cared for Fonda as an actress

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    Some of her movies are good, but I don't think it was her that made them that. Usually her "good" movies are ensembles like 9 to 5, or On Golden Pond, China Syndrome, etc. Jack Lemmon was great in China Syndrome. Michael Douglas had emotion. Jane Fonda.. meh.

  • July 3, 2008, 9:36 p.m. CST


    by anyrandomhero

    the first thing is a bit of fun...people like you sound more immature but hey nothing like a good old bag of oppression? dont write first anyone because this guy will pop a aneurysm. Why get so angry as to waste time and energy over someone writing a single word?? Although I appreciate the irony that I'm wasting time to have a go at you

  • July 3, 2008, 10:03 p.m. CST


    by grungies

    HOLY CRAP! GO TO HELL! DIE HEATHEN! Or just watch it. The latter would probably be more convenient.

  • July 3, 2008, 10:10 p.m. CST

    I don't care what anyone says...

    by keyserSOZE

    On Golden Pond is a great movie. Henry Fonda is incredible in the movie, and he alone makes it worth a watch. Watching that film is watching an iconic actor showing you why he's so god damn awesome.

  • July 3, 2008, 10:12 p.m. CST

    Klute and Pakula

    by psychedelic

    I saw this many, many years ago and would probably appreciate it more now. Pakula wrings sinister vibes from shadows and hinted menace that very few directors have done as well. I haven’t seen The Paralax View, one of my missing gaps, but it’s supposed to be another prime piece in this directorial vein. Saw a French flick recently called Heartbeat Detector that made me think of this tone. Demonlover directed by Olivier Assayas also uses similar techniques. I’m just trying to point out Pakula’s influence and why he deserves a hefty amount of respect and admiration—especially since he primarily uses the power of suggestion. I’ll have to check out Klute again sometime soon.

  • July 3, 2008, 10:22 p.m. CST

    Even Maltin Has Gaps

    by psychedelic

    I saw him a couple years ago at the American Cinematheque's annual Film Noir festival. He hadn't seen one of the movies playing and I was like, "Wow, they must be playing obscure stuff if you haven't seen it." <p> He replied,"There are several editors who work on my movie guide. I'm always searching for movies that have been under my radar."<p> I said, "Still, classic Hollywood movies are your specific area of knowledge and it says a lot they're playing some at this festival you haven't seen." <p>He was really nice, thanked me for the compliment, and as "one movie lover to another" gave me a free copy of a classic movie newsletter he puts out. Maltin is an amiable gentleman.

  • and klute is a brilliant movie...and fonda is great and sexy...and just amazed that there are fonda haters...i would put fonda up against any of the modern day acresses, with their fake boobs, butts and lips...

  • July 3, 2008, 10:37 p.m. CST

    Don't forget...

    by psychedelic

    Fake talent too. He-he-he.

  • July 3, 2008, 11:52 p.m. CST

    fincher connection

    by welbrick

    the compositions & lack of fill light in 'klute' reminds me of 'seven' and 'the game'. 'zodiac' owes a lot to 'all the president's men'. pakula & willis' photographic style seems to have really influenced fincher, though his camera is way more active.

  • July 3, 2008, 11:56 p.m. CST

    Shadow of a Doubt!

    by Jonah Echo

    Quint, you have saved alot of great treats for yourself here. And while you have been deprived all this time, its nice that this trip through unwatched dvds can actually act as a treasure hunt and not a frustrating sift through fool's gold. <P> Sound of Music aside, this might be the best unseen movie you have yet to spring on us. I have the big Hitchcock boxset, so Ill be pulling this one out to watch with you when the day comes. Awesome. Loving the collumn. And Klute was a fine film.

  • July 4, 2008, 12:54 a.m. CST


    by Motoko Kusanagi


  • July 4, 2008, 1:40 a.m. CST

    Great movie, BUT...

    by BiggusDickus

    ruined by the unnecessarily 'in-your-face' music of the soundtrack which, at times, is so distracting you simply miss what the characters are saying.<p>A remastered version would sort this niggle out, but I simply can't watch my copy anymore as the noise does my head in.

  • July 4, 2008, 2:15 a.m. CST

    Also, is this the first recorded example...

    by BiggusDickus

    ...of the stupidity of the Hollywood graphic designer that still persists to this day?<p>I'm talking about movie posters where one star's names are ALWAYS above the other star's photo. I know someone always has to have top billing, but how hard is it to simply flip the images or reverse the typesetting? D'oh!

  • July 4, 2008, 2:24 a.m. CST

    Gordon Willis

    by baptiste the clown

    I think the movie is pretty mediocre except for the excellent cinematography by Gordon Willis. I think the way he used light and shadow in this movie in almost painterly compositions was a real precursor to his work on the Godfather which was his very next job. And Gwai Lo, I think Pakula's most underrated movie and one definately worth checking out is Comes a Horseman from 1978. It also stars Jane Fonda coincidentally as well as James Caan, Jason Robards and Richard Farnsworth, and is a really great western set right after World War Two.

  • July 4, 2008, 2:41 a.m. CST

    Yeah, I get your drift...

    by Boba Fat

    Jumping and a jerking throughout the movie for no explained reason, while Jane just has a conversation...Hmmmm. I've never seen this though - I've always confused it with the Walter Matthau flick "Kotch". But I love a bit of Argento and giallo in general. I'll now check this one out.<P> Quint, did you see Mother Of Tears? I'm interested in reading your opinion. Capone obviously loved it. Me? - not so much. Any plans to review?

  • July 4, 2008, 3:15 a.m. CST

    Quint, Just Wait Until You See...

    by Rebeck2

    THE COWBOYS. You and I seem to have very similar tastes (I'm a JAWS freak myself, and good call on KLUTE) and I think you're just gonna' eat that movie up. It's my favorite John Wayne movie. Just a great story that goes from funny to tearjerker to a wonderfully violent and cathartic climax. Crazy Bruce Dern...Roscoe Lee Browne...all the kids, some of them not even actors. God, I love this movie. And the score by John Williams is ALMOST as amazing as his work on JAWS (in fact, I think it was this film that Spielberg cited as the reason he hired him for SUGARLAND). Anyway, I envy you seeing it for the first time - you're in for a real treat. Here's your line of dialogue, said with a hangman's noose around the character's neck: "Lord forgive me for all the men I've killed...and all the men I'm about to".

  • July 4, 2008, 3:45 a.m. CST

    Shadow of a Doubt is great.

    by jmyoung666

    Something to look forward to.

  • July 4, 2008, 6:22 a.m. CST


    by Fortunesfool

    The original. Great movie.just thought i'd say.

  • July 4, 2008, 7:34 a.m. CST


    by sugarbess

    Seems he is seeking extramarital relationships on the rich men seeking affairs club 【wealthybeauty.c o m】 , reported by the magazine wealTHY GOSSIP, the man wants to find a sugar girl there.

  • July 4, 2008, 8:52 a.m. CST

    While we're talking 70's Network

    by Sledge Hammer

    ...if you haven't done so already. Now there's a movie that hasn't lost it's punch over the years. Hell, it sounds like a cliche, but it's probably even more relevant now than it was on release. Oh, and don't miss yesterdays recommendations, if you haven't seen them already: The Hill (starring Sean Connery and Ossie Davis) and The Man Who Would Be King (with Connery and Michael Caine). Classic cinema all.

  • July 4, 2008, 9:01 a.m. CST

    I wish audiences could go back to appreciating...

    by Knuckleduster

    ... the kind of pacing you find in a film like Klute. Films today feel incredibly rushed, with every aspect of the film's editing concentrating on creating shortcuts. Cinema today really is a rollercoaster ride. That's not always a bad thing, of course, but it's almost as if the audiences' patience for moving pictures are wearing thin, if that makes any sense. There's this attitude of "Entertain me! Now! More! More!". It's really sad that people can't seem to sit back, relax,and just appreciate what's happening on the screen anymore.

  • July 4, 2008, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Excellent Choices All, Sledge Hammer

    by Rebeck2

    Well done. And knuckleduster, I couldn't agree with you more. Evidence we're becoming like those adult babies in "Wall-E"?

  • July 4, 2008, 9:26 a.m. CST

    Hey prettybaby

    by Rebeck2

    Go to suckmyballsack dot com.

  • July 4, 2008, 10:19 a.m. CST

    Shadow of a Doubt Rules

    by rhcp2sweet


  • July 4, 2008, 12:28 p.m. CST

    That is Jack Bauer's dad

    by Anakin Whoopass

    Donald Sutherland was the same age in Klute as Kiefer was when 24 started. I've never seen Klute but even in the trailer the resemblance in appearance and manner is sometimes uncanny.

  • July 4, 2008, 12:28 p.m. CST

    While we're talking classics of any kind

    by theredtoad

    watch Gremlins 2!!

  • July 4, 2008, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Knuckleduster, have you seen Michael Clayton?

    by jim

    I found it had a kind of '70s movie vibe to it. Some long scenes of exposition that just sucked you in. An intelligent movie that respected its audience rather than patronising them.<p>BiggusDickus, that way both stars get top billing: reading left to right, one gets first billing by name while the other gets first billing by image.<p>Shadow of a Doubt is my favourite Hitchcock movie that isn't Psycho. For years I honestly thought the title was "Uncle Charlie". Watching a dozen or more Hitchcock movies a week over six weeks can cause some loss of detail. Still not 100% sure I haven't seen "Torn Curtain".

  • July 4, 2008, 2:14 p.m. CST

    Sledge is more relevant today

    by bacci40

    than ever before...what is fox news channel but a mouthpiece for the corporatists

  • July 5, 2008, 4:54 a.m. CST


    by pr1c3y

    You haven't seen Rolling Thunder, I remember it was mentioned in these talkbacks.

  • July 5, 2008, 11:05 p.m. CST



  • July 6, 2008, 2:42 a.m. CST


    by Quint

    But does this answer your question? "Lemme get my gear."

  • July 6, 2008, 7:03 a.m. CST

    Big Jim

    by Knuckleduster

    Yeah, saw it and liked it, but even Michael Clayton had a bit of flash to it. It reminded me more of a Bourne film for some reason (a good example of great fast-paced filmmaking), even if it wasn't action driven the way a Bourne film would be. The last film that gave me that great 70's vibe was Zodiac. Reminded me of All The President's Men.

  • July 6, 2008, 1:28 p.m. CST

    Mention the writers, maybe?

    by Bronx Cheer

    Quint, I am happy to see you writing about a film I think is one of the best of the 70s. I think it might be cool next time to mention the screenwriters, though (Andy Lewis and Dave Lewis), in addition to the director.

  • July 6, 2008, 1:30 p.m. CST

    Willis is a genius.

    by Bronx Cheer

    He blazed a trail that others are still following today. And Pakula does deserve more respect. Good call.

  • July 6, 2008, 3:02 p.m. CST


    by pr1c3y

    I'm happy that you have witnessed the greatness and equally disappointed we won't see it here on AMAD. "You learn to love the rope..."

  • July 7, 2008, 2:07 p.m. CST


    by Second Try

    Saw it for the first time yesterday. Great movie. Fonda is fantastic on this.