Klute (1971) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Wow, talk about a movie that hasn't held up well!

I guess they were going for some kind of dark, European-style character study in this alleged mystery, but it sure doesn't work. I think that I kinda liked this when it first came out, but I'll be damned if I can remember why.

  • Although Jane Fonda won an acting Oscar for this role, she is stiff and her lines sound like they are recited. Donald Sutherland is even worse. His lines are so hollow and over-enunciated that they sound like they come from an echo chamber.
  • The dialogue is stiff and unnatural.
  • The photography is dark and grainy.
  • Action scenes are mishandled. They are cut poorly, and there are even a couple of instances when the sound effects (like punching noises) are not co-ordinated with the visuals.
  • The mystery is completely uninteresting. The rule of "compression of characters" points us to whodunit, but when the film confirms our suspicions, we don't much care because we have not really come to know the guy.


Fonda very briefly shows most of one breast including the nipple while undressing for a customer. Later, she is being watched by Klute across a street and through a darkened upper story window, as she tells an old man a dirty story and strips for him.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Theatrical trailer(s)

  • Documentary Klute in New York: A Background For Suspense

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35

  • dark, grainy

Tuna's Thoughts

Klute (1971) won Jane Fonda Best Actress honors from both the Golden Globes and The Oscars. She plays a bright call girl, who does it for the money, and because she wants meaningless sex in situations she can control. She is seeing a therapist, hoping to get out of the life, and open herself to real relationships.

At one point she was beaten by a trick, and thus becomes the only lead in a search for a missing engineer, who has been sending her sick letters. Donald Sutherland is John Klute, a small town detective sent to New York to solve the crime.

I saw this film several times in the early 70s, as it was a frequent offering on cable, and did have brief nudity from Fonda, and was impressed by what, at the time, seemed a gritty and accurate portrayal of prostitution in New York. The film did not hold up well for me.

  • Fonda seemed more like the cliched movie hooker than a real one
  • I was able to guess the ending before the midpoint of the film, even though I had forgotten
  • The pace was very slow
  • Viewed through today's eyes, Fonda's performance was not that special either, as there was little dramatic range.

I can give it no more than a C+, as a technically competent mystery thriller, that is not all that mysterious or thrilling by today's standards.

The Critics Vote

  • Consensus: three and a half stars. Maltin 3.5/4, BBC 5/5

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 7.1/10


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C.

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