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Julian makes a lucrative living as an escort to older women in the Los Angeles area. He begins a relationship with Michelle, a local politician's wife, without expecting any pay. One of his clients is murdered and Detective Sunday begins pumping him for details on his different clients, something he is reluctant to do considering the nature of his work. Julian begins to suspect he's being framed. Meanwhile Michelle begins to fall in love with him. Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to the book "The Meryl Streep Story" (1984), Meryl Streep was offered and turned down the role of Michelle because she didn't like the tone of the film. See more »
When Julian and Michelle are having a conversation at his apartment, he tells her about the Palm Springs murder he is being framed for. He tells her that it took place a couple of weeks ago. A short time later, she asks him when the murder took place, he tells her it was a week ago Tuesday.
This is duplicated later on by Charles (The Senator) when he's talking to Julian, but the Tuesday part is omitted. See more »
"American Gigolo" really is slick and stylish. As slick and stylish as any film could be, so you really wonder whether this is Schrader's film or Jerry Bruckheimer's? If you look solely at the screenplay, it almost fits into the typical Schrader exploration of any given 'seedy underworld'. You could even argue that Julian and Michelle are in a way similar to Travis and Betty. Looking at the final product, however, I see a slick Hollywood mystery-thriller that's actually far more interesting for its romantic sub-plot than for any of the suspense parts.
Don't get me wrong, in places "American Gigolo" is a quality character study, and the romance is as well-written as you could ever expect from a major, mainstream Hollywood production, but the suspense thriller portion is just so banal, expected, and predictable that it really takes away from an otherwise very good film. Perhaps most worthy of praise here is Richard Gere who gives one of his best performances here, and I certainly cannot even begin to imagine John Travolta in the lead role.
It sounds like I'm criticizing how stylish this film is, I'm really not. It's pulled off pretty darn well in comparison to how many films of this sort have ended up, and you have to admit Gere's wardrobe is impressive. The film is well-shot and well-acted and for the most part quite well-written (although this is far, far from Paul Schrader's best work as a screenwriter). My comments on the film's slickness are really just a natural reaction to this film coming right after "Hardcore". Indeed, it seems like this film is a signpost for the early 80's (the dud of a score proves it) where in Hollywood even homicide cases with a Gigolo as the main suspect are glamorous rather than gritty.
A lot of people hate this film, but it has also gained a large cult following and a respectable following from film critics and aficionados, even landing a spot on the 'They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?' top 1000 list, and I can't really understand why anyone would have such extreme feelings about a film that is just watchable and entertaining. I don't think Schrader did his best work here, but it's not his worst either and the film as a whole is so unimposing and forgettable that I find it hard to believe it has so many fans and so many detractors.
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