Seventies Movies: Klute

First off, let me acknowledge that Jane Fonda is controversial. A lot of people hate her for her politics and past activism. I get it. But regardless of what you may think of her as a person, as an actor she’s always had that indefinable spark of a movie star, someone who’s interesting to watch even in a bad movie, stunningly attractive, and with a unique energy and an immediately recognizable voice.

The other night I watched her and Donald Sutherland in “Klute,” where she plays a semi-high-class call girl who gets involved in a murder plot. One online critic said it’s a thriller without any thrills, which is kind of true as they give away the identity of the killer in the first forty-five minutes.

But for a crossdresser like myself watching Jane Fonda in this movie is hypnotic. The movie itself is really dated now, made in 1971, and the pacing is of the time, that is to say, very slow. There are also the kinds of scenes that were probably edgy at the time and now just seem funny. The party scenes especially are a bit squirm-inducing, as they were probably intended to be wild and shocking but by today’s standards they just seem kind of silly. There’s also that tendency for overacting which is so common in 70s movies. I remember as a kid watching movies back then and a character would get really angry over something that didn’t seem to me like that big a deal, as though the script just demanded, “Be angry now!” Jane Fonda does this a couple times, letting out with a loud “Damn You!” I just had to laugh. It’s like, why is she getting so angry?

At the same time, I did like the movie, as silly as it is in spots. And the real draw is just how beautiful Jane Fonda is and her style and energy, and especially that iconic shag haircut that she made famous – if I could make my own hair look like that as Sandra I could die fulfilled. The metallic dress with the long sleeves that she wears is pretty terrific too. So all in all, an interesting, if flawed, movie that saw Jane Fonda at her peak, and for which she also won the Oscar.

6 thoughts on “Seventies Movies: Klute”

  1. Thanks for the reminiscence on this film, Sandra. I’ve always loved Jane Fonda’s look in Klute, especially the shiny dress she is poured into (featured at the top of the post) – that made quite an impression on me!

    Personally, I love the more laconic pace of these 70’s films – less ADHD and frenetic. I remember a line of dialog that really made my young ears perk up, something along the lines of “What’s your kink, Klute? Do you want me walk on your back in high heels?”.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Torrie! I agree about the laconic pace of the older films, sometimes it’s a nice change. And yes, that line from Klute does jump out! I remember she also asks if maybe he likes to wear women’s clothes, lol!

    I’ve seen a couple other older movies this last month or so too, including “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” I almost wrote about that one but it’s not nearly as sexy as “Klute,” actually one of the most grim and depressing studio movies ever made, but Jane Fonda is pretty amazing in it too.

    1. Sandra! I don’t remember Jane Fonda asking him about wearing women’s clothes – now I am going to have to watch Klute again soon ;-).

      You hit the nail on the head when you described “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” as grim. A well-crafted film with a great cast, but everything about it is just such a heartbreak.

      That early-mid 70s period is such a fruitful era for personal, character-driven cinema. Some of my favorites are “Five Easy Pieces”, “Sometimes a Great Notion”, and “Badlands”. Also well worth a watch is “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot”, a great little film made even better by a brief but indelible bondage scene, and another with Jeff Bridges fetchingly en femme.

      By the way, I don’t know if you’d remember, but i’m the same Torrie from the Donna’s Indiana party a few years back. I was lucky enough to be tightly trussed and gagged by you, and it was heavenly.

      Stay safe, and all the best.

  3. Hi Torrie…I did recognize your email address! It’s good to hear from you again – that was a great party and weekend! Seems like so long ago now!

    Yes, I believe Jane Fonda makes that comment about wearing women’s clothes in that same scene where she talks about walking on his back in high heels, lol!

    And yes, I had no idea what the story even was for “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and didn’t realize those dance marathons were such a big deal during the Depression. I can’t imagine!

    Those are some good movies your mentioned! I’ve seen several of them but I’ll have to check out “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,” can’t even remember if I’ve seen it before. But wow, Jeff Bridges en femme? That’s mind-blowing!

    Thanks for posting, Torrie!

  4. I basically remember Jane’s shag hair style. It just seemed to flow to her face. Even the wind couldn’t rearrange it. Immensely sexy. I could be wrong but I think she sported a very nice pair of boots in several scenes. In one scene, she befriends an older customer who pays her just to LISTEN to him. No sex. Just an ear.

    Her politics got her in trouble over Vietnam. “Hanoi Jane”. How ironic that years later, she would be on Ted Turner’s arm at baseball games. The Fondas were acting royalty.

    1. Btw. If you pull up Joan Jett singing “Crimson and Clover” whith her band The Black Hearts on You Tube (shot in the ’90s), you’ll be amazed at the resemblance Joan looks to Jane in Jane’s “Klute” days. They could be dopplegangers. . .right down to the shag haircut.

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