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Film poster for Klute
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
Produced by Alan J. Pakula
Written by Andy Lewis
Dave Lewis
Starring Jane Fonda
Donald Sutherland
Charles Cioffi
Roy Scheider
Music by Michael Small
Cinematography Gordon Willis
Edited by Carl Lerner
Gus Productions
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • June 25, 1971 (1971-06-25)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.5 million
Box office $12,512,637[1]

Klute is a 1971 American neo-noir crime-thriller film directed and produced by Alan J. Pakula, written by Andy and Dave Lewis, and starring Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, and Roy Scheider. It tells the story of a high-priced prostitute who assists a detective in solving a missing person case.

Klute is 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 film includes a cameo appearance by Warhol superstars actress Candy Darling, and another by All in the Family co-star Jean Stapleton.[2] Sylvester Stallone was also an uncredited extra, appearing briefly as a man dancing in a nightclub. The music was composed by Michael Small.

Upon its release, the film received widespread critical acclaim for its direction, screenplay, and performances - in particular that of Jane Fonda. Fonda won an Academy Award for Best Actress, and the film was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Notably, Klute was a commercial success, grossing $12 million against a $5 million budget.


A Pennsylvania chemical company executive, Tom Gruneman, has disappeared. The police reveal that an obscene letter was found in Gruneman's office, addressed to a prostitute in New York City named Bree Daniels, who had received several similar letters. After six months of fruitless police work, Peter Cable, a fellow executive at Gruneman's company, hires family friend and detective John Klute to investigate Gruneman's disappearance.

Klute rents an apartment in the basement of Daniels' building, taps her phone, and follows her as she turns tricks. Daniels appears to be liberated by the freedom of freelancing as a call girl while trying to get into acting and modelling, but in a series of visits to her psychiatrist, she reveals the emptiness of her life. Daniels refuses to answer Klute's questions at first. After learning that he has been watching her, Daniels says she does not recognize Gruneman. She acknowledges being beaten by a john two years earlier, but cannot identify Gruneman from a photo.

Daniels takes Klute to meet her former pimp, Frank Ligourin, whose fellow prostitute Jane McKenna passed the abusive client on to Bree. McKenna has apparently committed suicide, and their other colleague Arlyn Page became a drug addict and has disappeared.

Klute and Daniels develop a romance, though she tells her psychiatrist that she wishes she could go back to "just feeling numb". She admits to Klute a deep paranoia that she is being watched. They find Page, who tells them the customer was not Gruneman based on the photo but an older man. Page's body subsequently turns up in the river. Klute connects the "suicides" of the two prostitutes, surmising that the client was using Gruneman's name and probably also killed Gruneman and might kill Daniels next. He revisits Gruneman's acquaintances. By typographic comparison, the obscene letters are traced to Cable, to whom Klute has been reporting on his investigation.

Klute asks Cable for an additional $500 to buy the "black book" of clients of Bree, telling Cable he is certain it will reveal the identity of the abusive client. Cable corners Bree and reveals that he sent her the letters, explaining that Gruneman had interrupted him when he was with Bree and seen what they were doing. Believing that Gruneman would use the incident as leverage against him within the company, Cable attempted to frame Gruneman by planting the letter in his office. Cable follows Bree and traps her and then confesses to the killings. After playing an audiotape he made as he murdered Page, he attacks Daniels. Klute rushes in, and Cable jumps or is thrown out a window to his death (the conclusion is ambiguous).

Daniels moves out of her apartment with Klute's help, though her voiceover with her psychiatrist reveals her fear of being able to adapt to domestic life and the likelihood that the doctor will "see me next week".



Box office[edit]

The film earned $8 million in rentals at the North American box office.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Jane Fonda received widespread acclaim for her performance as Bree Daniels and won the Academy Award for Best Actress

Klute received wide critical acclaim on its release with major appreciation drawn towards Fonda's performance. It currently holds a 97% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews with an average rating of 8.1/10.[4] Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave Klute 3.5 stars out of a possible 4, writing that while the thriller elements were poorly executed the performances of Sutherland and especially Fonda carried the film. He suggested that the film should have been titled Bree after her character, which is the heart of the movie and avoids the hooker with a heart of gold stereotype: "What is it about Jane Fonda that makes her such a fascinating actress to watch? She has a sort of nervous intensity that keeps her so firmly locked into a film character that the character actually seems distracted by things that come up in the movie."[5]

Jane Fonda received unanimous praise for her performance. The Rotten Tomatoes consensus declares: "Fonda" makes all the right choices, from the mechanics of her walk and her voice inflection to the penetration of the girl's raging psyche. It is a rare performance."[4] She won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role and the film was nominated for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced. Fonda also received awards for her performance from the New York Film Critics Circle, Kansas City Film Critics Circle, and the National Society of Film Critics.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Movie Klute - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved July 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ All In the Family began airing in January 1971, the same month as the film's release.
  3. ^ "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976, p. 44
  4. ^ a b "Klute Film Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  5. ^ http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/klute-1971
  6. ^ "Jane Fonda Awards". Internet Movie Database. 

External links[edit]