Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
USA, 1971. Warner Bros., Gus Productions. Screenplay by Andy Lewis, David E. Lewis. Cinematography by Gordon Willis. Produced by Alan J. Pakula. Music by Michael Small. Production Design by George Jenkins. Costume Design by Ann Roth. Film Editing by Carl Lerner. Academy Awards 1971. Golden Globe Awards 1971.
The other fantastic thriller made in 1971 is the perfect feminine companion to The French Connection (and Roy Scheider is in both of them). Jane Fonda gives the performance of anyone’s lifetime as a street-wise prostitute who hangs around agents’ offices during the day looking for work as a model and actress and working as a high-priced call girl in the evenings (I won’t state the obvious connection, so as to not be offensive). She becomes embroiled in a scam when a respectable family man and high-powered business executive goes missing and the only lead he leaves behind for the investigating detective (Donald Sutherland) is her phone number. At first Sutherland tries to blackmail Fonda into helping him, but eventually he realizes that there actually is a psychotic madman stalking her and it might be connected with his case. A waterproof screenplay meets Alan J. Pakula’s energetic direction to make a perfect film, with Fonda’s wise, challenging and complicated performance rising above the stereotypes of hookers-with-hearts-of-gold and pushing a genre picture into the realm of character study.