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Press Release Arrow Video Press Release: American Gigolo (1980) (4k UHD) (1 Viewer)

johnmcmasters

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I really should see the film again vis a vis any vestiges of homophobia. My faint recollection from seeing the film all those years ago is that the "straightness" of the Gere character and his not having male clients is fully supported and lauded by the story arc and how he is redeemed by the love of a good woman, to reduce the plot to a mundane level. I know that the film can be seen as refuting the trappings of fashion, physical self absorption, and narcissistic self love, but it spends so much time lovingly caressing all of the surfaces, decors, fashions, and beautiful bodies, and the acquisition of things (how many fashion mags had a photo gallery of the Armani costumes? and as noted above the Gere "look" became a fashion trend) that I think it is a tad bit ingenuous for those trappings to be suddenly disavowed as the story progresses as perhaps morally corrupt. Sort of like "God that feels good but stop because it's wrong" if you know what I mean? But again I may be wrong. It's been a while and a half!

Addendum: I also recall that the film draws a moral equivalency between Gere's dislike of gay sex and his dislike of any S&M -- as though the two are automatically linked? Again, a more recent viewing may belie those recollections.
 
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JoshZ

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I really should see the film again vis a vis any vestiges of homophobia. My faint recollection from seeing the film all those years ago is that the "straightness" of the Gere character and his not having male clients is fully supported and lauded by the story arc and how he is redeemed by the love of a good woman, to reduce the plot to a mundane level. I know that the film can be seen as refuting the trappings of fashion, physical self absorption, and narcissistic self love, but it spends so much time lovingly caressing all of the surfaces, decors, fashions, and beautiful bodies, and the acquisition of things (how many fashion mags had a photo gallery of the Armani costumes? and as noted above the Gere "look" became a fashion trend) that I think it is a tad bit ingenuous for those trappings to be suddenly disavowed as the story progresses as perhaps morally corrupt. Sort of like "God that feels good but stop because it's wrong" if you know what I mean? But again I may be wrong. It's been a while and a half!

I think Schrader is smart enough to have not only recognized but actually intended most of those contradictions, in a "Have your cake and eat it too" sort of way. However, I do agree that some of the plot stuff at the end regarding the romance with Lauren Hutton feels like it may have been forced by studio notes.
 

Will Krupp

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I think it is a tad bit ingenuous for those trappings to be suddenly disavowed as the story progresses as perhaps morally corrupt. Sort of like "God that feels good but stop because it's wrong" if you know what I mean? But again I may be wrong. It's been a while and a half!

You're not wrong. Schrader uses the old DeMille trick of wallowing in "sin" and "decadence" throughout a good portion of the runtime but then makes it all "okay" by disavowing those same vices at the end. Schrader is letting the audience have its cake and eat it, too but we don't have to feel bad about it because the movie conveniently gives us a "moral" out.

As regards the perceived homophobia, I think it's important to note that Julian is NOT a gay character. I believe his desperation manifests itself at the end in that he is now willing to go against his own nature if that's what it takes. We're led to believe that there were gay-for-pay encounters in his past (when he was an up and comer) and he feels, at the beginning of the movie, that he is now successful enough that he can write his own rules and only do what he finds comfortable. If Julian had been a gay character who had no interest in women and was desperate enough to disassociate from his nature to do "woman" stuff at the end, the effect would have been the same. I don't think it's really homophobia at all. I agree with Josh that I don't think the movie makes a judgement call.
 
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johnmcmasters

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I've always been deeply intrigued with Schrader's films as they so often portray stark contradictions and extremes with an overlay of spiritual transcendence. I loved his book, "Transcendental Style in Film" when I was in college, and perhaps that has warped how I view his films and interpret his screenplays. His movies are so personal that I often feel as if I've been plugged directly into his nervous system! I am always engaged and challenged by his work, which is such a rarity these days. It is worth seeking out the obituary/personal remembrance that he wrote in "Film Comment" when Pauline Kael passed away. It is a very moving tribute and deeply personal.

Found a pdf of his OpEd on Pauline Kael and am attaching it. Hope that is OK?
 

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johnmcmasters

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Well, I've ordered the Arrow set. Now I should really make it a point to finally see "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" as I imagine it would add to my understanding of Mr. Schrader. I've always avoided it for various reasons.
 

Worth

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Well, I've ordered the Arrow set. Now I should really make it a point to finally see "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" as I imagine it would add to my understanding of Mr. Schrader. I've always avoided it for various reasons.
I think it's his best film.
 

Kevin Antonio (Kev)

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I like the film, it is not one my favorites from Schrader, it would be fairly far down the list, but as with all his work he makes a really interesting, really thoughtful picture and it does look and sound great. So, what you get with this is a really well-made picture, strong writing, beautifully shot, good acting...the pieces are all there...but I think what makes or breaks the film for people is how into the story they get. This is one of those kind of films where there is no "hero" and everybody is flawed to the extent that you may not like or really want to root for any of them. This makes it a film some people will not enjoy watching. Schrader is not giving you a hero, a good guy, he is giving you a story told through the flaws of the characters.
And to add to this the murder subplot truly was boring. I love the aesthetic of the movie but the second half is hard to sit through. I actually prefer Schrader's film about a Calvinist whose daughter runs off to make porn. And he goes full Ethan Edward's to find her.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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And to add to this the murder subplot truly was boring. I love the aesthetic of the movie but the second half is hard to sit through. I actually prefer Schrader's film about a Calvinist whose daughter runs off to make porn. And he goes full Ethan Edward's to find her.

Hardcore, yes, that is a good story with a great central performance by George C. Scott. Yeah, I would rank that above Gigolo on my list. I also am really fond of his Patty Hearst film, which I think is really interesting to watch in light of the times we live in now. Basically because it is about how a person gets pulled into a violent movement but can come out the other side of that. I'd have Patty Hearst above Gigolo as well.
 

The Drifter

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This will hopefully be a great release. I've only seen AG on the old DVD, and the PQ here is honestly not that great. This is possibly my favorite Schrader-directed film, and I've liked all of his movies. IMHO this is also a quintessential early '80's movie - despite the fact that it was probably all filmed in '79. I also liked the Los Angeles setting - which may as well have been another character in the film.

Great opening scene with Gere speeding down the highway in his expensive car while Blondie's iconic track "Call Me" blares on the soundtrack. This scene in particular was the epitome of "cool" ;) I also liked how you could later short snippets of "Call Me" in other musical sequences in the film.

There is something extremely intriguing about being a guy who not only lives off of women, but who takes pride in doing so. When I was much younger, this type of lifestyle would have been somewhat attractive.

One of my favorite scenes in AG is the monologue sequence when he's talking to Michelle Stratton (Lauren Hutton) about being able to successfully get a woman off - who hasn't had this happen to her for years. And, it's obvious he's not bragging about this - but just being completely forthright/honest. I find this fascinating & intriguing, especially since female sexuality/or@#%#@ are typically not addressed in mainstream cinema....not even in modern films.

That all being said - an extremely interesting aspect of AG is that Schrader, instead of making a movie that glamorizes Julien's lifestyle (which he easily could have done) takes the opposite route & clearly illustrates the darker side to this "profession". I.e., if you are in this "business" you will certainly need to do some degrading/dangerous things; you will be treated with contempt and/or envy by many; and, there are a lot of sleazy people out there who will betray you in a NY minute.

When Julien is being set up for the murder of a former "client", you can see how everyone that he was in good graces with prior to that ends up dropping him like a hot potato. I.e., his "relationships" are very tenuous & based on services rendered, and that's it. He has no support system, no family, & no friends. This is why Stratton supporting him & staying by his side (despite the permanent damage this did to her & her husband's reputation) was especially touching. This was given that she was the only one that believed in Julien, due in large part because she had fallen for him - very poignant theme here. I don't consider this unrealistic, just unlikely - though definitely not impossible.
 
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Will Krupp

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Some very astute observations all throughout your post, Jim, thanks!

There is something extremely intriguing about being a guy who not only lives off of women, but who takes pride in doing so. When I was much younger, this type of lifestyle would have been somewhat attractive.

It has to be said that the casting director deserves some kind of a medal for casting the women in Julian's life against expectations. Not only do we get the marvelous K Callan and Carole Cook but, in somewhat smaller roles, we also get Carol Bruce and Candace Bergen's mother, Frances, from Hollywood/LA's golden age. The inspired casting adds a patina of class to the whole enterprise IMO.
 
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johnmcmasters

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Well... Mr. Schrader created the character, the lines, and the story arc -- it isn't, after all, a documentary.

Let me imagine a film and a screenplay with a down-and-out actor who is desperately in need of money who can't get cast for some spurious reasons and has some deeply imbedded prejudices about the business. This actor visits his agent in desperation and blurts out, "I'll even work in a Paul Schrader film." But, of course, I'm not anti-Schrader, I'm just observing a character...
 

B-ROLL

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Some very astute observations all throughout your post, Jim, thanks!



It has to be said that the casting director deserves some kind of a medal for casting the women in Julian's life against expectations. Not only do we get the marvelous K Callan and Carole Cook but, in somewhat smaller roles, we also get Carol Bruce and Candace Bergen's mother, Frances, from Hollywood/LA's golden age. The inspired casting adds a patina of class to the whole enterprise IMO.
But Julian was supposed to be played by um Vinnie Barbarino ...
1712374299575.png


or so I've heard ....
 

Will Krupp

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But Julian was supposed to be played by um Vinnie Barbarino ...

I think it would have worked, too. No one was on more of a hot streak than Travolta in 1978-79 and I hope Gere sent him flowers, at least!
 

The Drifter

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RG does a good job in the role of Julian Kay in AG, and I'm not even a big Gere fan.

However, this is one of those roles where I can definitely see actors (other than Gere) giving a good performance as well. I.e., I could see Travolta doing a great job in this role.

In addition, Chris Reeve was offered the role but turned it down. I believe he could have done a great job here as well:


I wonder if he turned this down because he felt it wouldn't have "fit" his image as the clean-cut Clark Kent/Superman - given that this film was released between Superman I & II? I read some rumors online that mentioned he turned it down because:

1)The studio didn't give him enough time to prepare for the role; and/or,
2) He felt that playing a man who was 'servicing' older women "distasteful".

But, I can't find anything official corroborating these.
 
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The Drifter

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To follow-up on my last post re: the casting for the film, I also read that Julie Christie was originally slated to play Michelle Stratton. Yes, she would have been good in the role.

However, I found Lauren Hutton's performance (as Stratton) sublime in this film. She was not only gorgeous in an almost ethereal way - but her feelings/love for Julian & her pursuit of him were quite convincing. I definitely saw the chemistry between them here - which isn't always the case re: love scenes in films. In other words, I'm not certain that another actress would have been able to pull this off as well. Casting a good actress to play Stratton was as important as the casting of Julian.
 
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This movie is highly stylized and some viewers just wont or can’t get into it. I look forward to seeing this with a decent print, i watched an old dvd during lockdown and remembered the color pallet of the film in theaters being intentionally focused on the coloring of the Giorgio Armani clothing in the film, lost on the dvd print. In fact there was a long article in GQ magazine about this at the time. This film launched the Armani brand as the designer of the 80’s, and the skinny tie. It also started the metrosexual craze of men really utilizing self care (using moisturizer and having manicures etc.) that up until this point was mostly practiced by gay men and male movie stars. Technically the film was ahead of its time and was extremely influential on industry tastes going forward. Both the direction and soundtrack set the standards of taste for the forth coming MTV generation and music videos. I feel this film would have been more commercially viable if not for the homophobia present at the time. It was perceived by the general public as a gay movie. The focus on the full frontal scene was all the press and censors focused on, a big thank you to the vocal and self-loathing Jack Valenti for that! And the R rating which the MPAA had a huge double standard for, male genitalia (R rating ) vs female (PG13) which still to this day is why we see very little male frontal nudity in films. An earlier comment mentioned that a film about a male prostitute didn’t or doesn’t interest him. I must agree with Rona Barretts review of the film at the time that stated this film will establish Richard Gere as the first male sex symbol of the 80’s but the character is not sympathetic, and would an audience care enough about this character to make the film a hit. It was in LA and NewYork, but was not elsewhere. Both lead’s performances are balanced and good. This is Hutton’s best film performance by far in my opinion and both look absolutely, stunningly beautiful. The film holds up well and deserves a second look. Hopefully Arrow will give the film the visual upgrade it deserves.
 

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