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>
Star John Travolta, who was originally attached to play the lead male role of Julian Kay, had recently starred in a film with Lily Tomlin called Moment by Moment (1978) which had failed at the box-office. Reportedly, it's story-line of a relationship between an older woman and a younger man was believed to be too similar in subject matter for Travolta to do another picture with this kind of plot, especially given the commercial failure of Moment by Moment (1978). Moreover, it is also believed that the then current illness of Travolta's father and the then recent death of Travolta's mother contributed to Travolta leaving the picture. Reportedly also, one of the reasons Travolta in the end turned down the movie was because he wanted final cut approval and director Paul Schrader allegedly would not give it to him. See more »
When Julian Kay is talking on the phone to Jill to see if he has any messages, he is told that Michelle has left him one, shortly after that, he says to Jill, "Tell her to meet me at Perinos," but instead of telling Jill to let Michelle know what to time to meet him there, he puts the phone down.
(The shot then goes to Julian walking to Perinos in the evening to meet Anne and Michelle is seen at a table opposite). 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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