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 <email@example.com>
In 2012, star Richard Gere said that he was drawn to the role because of its gay subtext. "I read it and I thought, 'This is a character I don't know very well. I don't own a suit. He speaks languages; I don't speak any languages. There's kind of a gay thing that's flirting through it and I didn't know the gay community at all.' I wanted to immerse myself in all of that and I had literally two weeks. So I just dove in." 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 »
Another sleazy tale from the mind of Paul Schrader.
Fresh off his eye-opening 1979 effort Hardcore, writer/director Paul Schrader struck again in 1980 with American Gigolo. This is the story of a high-end male prostitute (Gere) named Julian Kaye. Julian caters to the every need of several well-to-do older women whose husbands either are unable or reluctant to satisfy them. Julian is good at what he does, and he knows it. But that's his problem. His subtle arrogance is beginning to rub others in his line of work the wrong way. After he is framed for the murder of a kinky wife, Julian finds that none of his associates will help him clear his name. Adding to his misfortune is the fact that in order to clear his name, he will have to reveal much of what he does, as well as the identities of some of his powerful clients to the police. Either way he's screwed. He either goes to jail for the murder, or he never enjoys his profitable career again. The only person who seems interested in helping him is a state senator's wife (Hutton) who has fallen for him.
The film is really not bad. Maybe better than it deserves to be. Much of the credit goes to Richard Gere. Say what you want about the man's odd behavior off screen, but as an actor he is always top drawer. He plays Julian as a smug, intelligent, and sexually ambiguous young man. The performance keeps you guessing as much as the screenplay. Lauren Hutton is very beautiful and plays her part with classic sensuality. This woman never did that much after this, but she gives a fine performance here. Hector Elizondo is on hand as a sleazy detective, and look out for Bill Duke in an early role as a homosexual hustler at odds with Gere.
As for the direction, Schrader does what he can, but he is much better as a writer than a director. There is nothing overly creative about how much of this film is shot. George C. Scott tried to convince Schrader to stick to writing while on the set of Hardcore. American Gigolo is a much better film, so maybe Schrader took those comments to heart and made himself better. Still, the man is just not quite the director you'd hope. Some of the scenes are just a little too stale, with only the actors to breath life into them. One downfall might also be the conclusion. The film just kind of ends without a lot resolved, and a tough choice made by a major character just isn't given the proper motivation you'd think it would need. That said, American Gigolo is not a bad film at all. It was better than I expected, and it is a nice time capsule from 1980 Los Angeles. Give it a try. 7 of 10 stars.
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