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Klute (1971)

A small-town detective searching for a missing man has only one lead: a connection with a New York prostitute.



, (as Dave Lewis)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Arlyn Page
Vivian Nathan ...
Morris Strassberg ...
Mr. Goldfarb
Barry Snider ...
Betty Murray ...
Holly Gruneman
Jane White ...
Janie Dale
Momma Reese
Robert Milli ...
Tom Gruneman
Actor's Agent


Six months after the disappearance of Tuscarora, PA businessman Tom Gruneman, his boss, Peter Cable, and his wife, Holly Gruneman, hire Tom's best friend, private detective John Klute to find out what happened to Tom, as the police have been unable to do so, and despite John having no expertise in missing persons cases. The only lead is a typewritten obscene letter Tom purportedly sent to Manhattan actress/model/call girl Bree Daniel, who admits to having received such letters from someone, and since having received several obscene telephone calls as well. The suggestion/belief is that Tom was one of Bree's past johns, although she has no recollection of him when shown his photograph. Bree tricking is more a compulsion than a financial need. In their initial encounters, John and Bree do whatever they can to exert their psychological dominance over the other, especially as Bree initially refused to even speak to him. Despite their less than friendly start, they embark on a personal ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Lots of guys swing with a call girl like Bree. One guy just wants to kill her. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 June 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Inspecteur Klute  »


Box Office


$2,500,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$12,512,637, 31 December 1971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Bree's apartment was built on a sound stage at a New York film studio where Jane Fonda could spend the night. The director even had a working toilet installed in the bathroom of the set. Jane contributed to decorating the apartment by deciding Bree would be a romance reader and have a cat. Jane remembered an actress from Lee Strasberg's private class that occasionally serviced John F. Kennedy, so she decided Bree had done this as well. A signed photo of Kennedy appears on the fridge in Bree's apartment. See more »


When Donald Sutherland writes notes on the legal pad about who the killer might be, it is not his hand but a double who has veinless, pudgy, black haired hands. See more »


Frank Ligourin: I was just finishing up some work here. I used to be a photographer, you know... before I got into publishing.
Bree Daniels: He knows you're a pimp, Frankie. He knows you were my pimp.
Frank Ligourin: [annoyed] Excuse me... Bree, would you mind waiting outside?
[she leaves]
Frank Ligourin: [to Klute] I always respected Bree. I want to make something clear: you know, I don't go to a woman. A woman comes to me. *Her* choice.
See more »


Featured in The 75th Annual Academy Awards (2003) See more »


We Gather Together
Written by Adrianus Valerius
Lyrics by Theodore Baker
Sung by Jane Fonda
See more »

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User Reviews

Jane Fonda at the Top of Her Form
2 May 2011 | by See all my reviews

We grab from the top drawer for our descriptive words nowadays. We call a really good movie "awesome," leaving ourselves at a loss when a movie truly does inspire awe, such is the case with Jane Fonda's performance as Bree Daniels in Klute. And not for the same reasons as we're normally "awed" by performances. She doesn't have big, tearful breakdown scenes or fiery cross-examinations on a witness stand. She simply interacts, tries to figure out her own feelings and lack thereof, and experiences them. She makes all the right choices, from the workings of her walk and her vocal nuances to the infiltration of the girl's rampant mind. It's an uncommonly exceptional performance. She has a kind of anxious concentration that keeps her so resolutely in sync with a film character that the character truly seems preoccupied by things that happen in the story. You effectively get the sense that Bree had other things on her mind and was just about to pursue them when whatever it is arose.

Klute is one of the paramount films in which director of photography Gordon Willis, more than any other cinematographer, circumscribed the cinematic look of the 1970s: sophisticated compositions in which gulps of light and black put the decade's vague philosophy into harsh release. He imbues Klute with shadow and underexposed long takes with a delicacy and expression rarely before seen on color film stock. He has an unaffected sense of unconventional but formal configuration and dark beauty, using a shadowy painterliness to characterize not only the look but the precise meaning and atmosphere of a film.

Nevertheless, more than just a neo-noir or detective thriller, this initial installment of what would unofficially come to be termed as quite incredible and quite overlooked director Alan J. Pakula's paranoia trilogy is about a practiced, clever, cynical and self-contained New York call girl without a heart of gold. She never feels anything when she's with a john, yet she does undergo a sensation of satisfaction with her skill when she pleases them. And some of them have very complex desires, which test her character's own inspired acting capability. One old garment industry magnate, for instance, romanticizes an optimistic bygone Europe life, and Bree depicts it to him in calm, tender descriptions while she undresses. He in no way touches her.

Bree is at the heart of a movie whose title character is a cop who's come to New York, ad hoc, to resolve a missing persons case. It seems that the missing man may still be alive, and the cause of obscene notes and phone calls Bree has been getting. Bree at first rebuffs Klute, though she ultimately does talk to him, mainly because she's scared by late-night stalkers and wants his safety. This, rather than the thriller aspects of the plot, is more or less where the film's theme becomes paranoia. It's a romantic relationship based on it. Paranoid thinking tends to incorporate oneself. Distinctive from dogma or stupidity. And it's fascinating to watch two actors, one of whom having only four or five lines in the entire film, develop their largely intuitive rapport on a basis of Bree's feelings of a seeming menace towards her, and what we can only sense is a gradual building of trust in her from a point of associating suspicion with his being alien to her lifestyle.

But how do you build a relationship between a neurotic prostitute and an upright milquetoast cop? This genuinely psychological dramatic thriller does it by making the cop, in one of Donald Sutherland's strongest performances, into a person of moderation and formality, a man sincerely worried about this girl he's encountered. Sutherland's manner is a large part of what makes their relationship so engrossing. Customarily, in the movies, it's simply implicit the lovers were drawn toward one another because the script has a vague understanding of reductive audience demographics.

The scenes between Fonda and Sutherland are extremely accomplished, then, and Bree is further expounded on in scenes showing her trying to escape the vocation and into something respectable. She takes acting lessons, she auditions to model for cosmetics ads. She speaks with her shrink in scenes that literally, truly, absolutely, feel like documentary and put on permanent display Fonda's irrefutable brilliance. That's why the story, otherwise done many times in less interesting ways, works with such freshness and realism. In Klute, you don't have two pretty acting voids narrating stock phrases and running from henchmen. With Fonda and Sutherland, you have actors who comprehend and relate to their characters, and you wish all filmmakers felt their material entitled to this degree of dramatic ingenuity.

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