1971 Suspense/Thriller | Romance

The first entry in Pakula’s ‘paranoia trilogy’ is, on the surface, a murder mystery. But the nuanced screenplay and the extraordinary quality of the acting elevate it beyond its genre trappings. The heart of the film lies in the relationship between the two lead characters; Sutherland gives a fine performance as the eponymous detective, while Fonda is electric as call girl Bree Daniels – a rare example of a complex female character who drives the narrative to its sinister conclusion. The first part of his paranoia trilogy, Alan J. Pakula's 1971 thriller details the troubled life of a Manhattan prostitute stalked by one of her tricks. Investigating the disappearance of his friend Tom Gruneman (Robert Milli), rural Pennsylvania private eye John Klute (Donald Sutherland) follows a lead provided by Gruneman's associate Peter Cable (Charles Cioffi) to seek out a call girl who Gruneman knew in New York City. The call girl is Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), an aspiring actress who turns tricks for the cash and to be free of emotional bondage. Klute follows Bree's every move, observing the city's decadence and her isolation, eventually contacting her about Gruneman. Bree claims not to know Gruneman, but she does reveal that she has received threats from a john. As Bree becomes involved in Klute's search and realizes that she is in danger, she reluctantly falls in love with Klute, despite her wish to remain unattached to any man. When she finally comes face to face with the killer, however, she is forced to reconsider her detached urban life.~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide