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Troubled New York City call girl Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) finds herself in the middle of an investigation with small-town private eye John Klute (Donald Sutherland). Klute's businessman friend has been missing for months, and he thinks Bree is at the center of it. As the lanky detective investigates, he gets involved in a sordid web of murder and with Bree. Danger lurks in the shadows, old habits are hard to break, and love is best left unspoken for two people from such opposite worlds.

Review by Shannon J Harvey:
Studios like Warner Brothers are opening up their vaults and giving various classics a new life in the digital world. Better that than another Wiggles episode on DVD (after all, lots of kids own DVDs...). Now looking decidedly dated, the language and fashions in Alan J. Pakula's 1971 neo-noir romance Klute all scream retro. But it also established Pakula's probing visual style and quiet, unflashy direction something echoed in another New York crime caper, The French Connection. Klute marked the first of what critics called Pakula's "paranoia trilogy," which continued with Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1972) and the chilling The Parallax View (1974). The bookend was the superb retelling of the Watergate scandal All the President's Men (1976).

Klute is a Hollywood crime caper lead by the performances of its then up-and-coming stars Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland and Pakula's stylish direction. Sutherland works subtly as a kind of Phillip Marlowe while Fonda - in her Oscar Winning performance - is his perfect opposite; flashy and street smart. Backing such controlled acting and well considered direction is Andy and Dave Lewis's taut script. Most of all, Klute is proof of how a great cinematographer can make a movie even better. Gordon Will's use of dim lighting, dark alleyways and tight spaces adds the suspense that the script never really delivers. He can only do so much. Sutherland plays Klute with a complete lack of emotion, making it difficult to decipher his relationship with the city and with Fonda. The film also makes the crucial error of revealing the identity of the killer halfway through and continues to proceed with clues as if it's still a mystery.

Klute is a fairly major film so it's a shame Warner Brothers chose such a bare bones DVD release. The look and sound is still very average, and an eight minute documentary does little more than follow Fonda's, Sutherland's and Pakula's escapades as they begin filming in New York. The cruddy trailer should also be used to show marketing students what not to put on a trailer.

However, Klute is worth a look for the way these old crime thrillers used to be made, and for Fonda, who would go on to birth an exercise revolution and marry a media billionaire. It could have been a more feature laden DVD, but at around $28 the low price tag makes it almost forgivable.

Published April 18, 2002

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia

(US 1971)

CAST: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, Roy Scheider, Dorothy Tristan, Rita Gam, Nathan George

DIRECTOR: Alan J. Pakula

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the Scenes documentary: Klute in New York - A background for suspense; Theatrical Trailer; Cast/filmmaker highlights;

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: April 17, 2002

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