American Gigolo

Starring Richard Gere, Lauren Hutton, Nina Van Pallandt and Bill Duke
Written and directed by Paul Schrader
USA 1980
117 mins

Our last film The Hunt was a powerful study of a teacher accused of sexual wrongdoing in a small Danish community and his struggle to prove his innocence when all around presume him guilty. Our next movie also features a man wrongly suspected of a crime but this time the setting is Los Angeles and the hero a male prostitute.

Richard Gere plays Julian Kaye, a handsome escort with a taste for expensive cars and designer clothing. Julian's clients are older women to whom he gives sexual satisfaction and provides glamorous companionship. His superficial, narcissistic life is rudely interrupted when a client is found murdered and he becomes the chief suspect.

The writer/director of this iconic 1980s picture is Paul Schrader - the esteemed writer who frequently collaborated with Martin Scorsese and whose screenplays include such masterpieces as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation Of Christ.

Schrader has himself directed a handful of exceptional films including Blue Collar, Mishima and Cat People. American Gigolo was by far his most successful work - making a star of Richard Gere and also the clothes of Giorgio Armani.

The music is by Giorgio Moroder - the so-called 'Father of Disco' who worked with Donna Summer, the Three Degrees and David Bowie among others. The theme song 'Call Me' was co-written by Moroder and Debbie Harry and became a worldwide hit for her band Blondie.
American Gigolo is in some ways a flawed film and is perhaps a product of its times but it remains a fascinating and visually stylish entertainment. It is one of the first films to truly make a man the object of the female gaze and notable for its portrayal of the abandoned sexual habits of a pre-AIDS world.