Sometimes it feels like a filmmaker must be hardwired into the zeitgeist. In a five-year-spell in the 1970s, Alan J. Pakula directed three popular thrillers that didn’t just reflect political tensions, they amplified and anticipated the fear and disillusionment of the times.
These films are commonly known as ’paranoia thrillers’, although there was nothing delusional about the last of them. All the President’s Men (1976) documented the Washington Post’s investigation into the Watergate break-in, a true story that paralleled the contemporaneous fictional crimes and cover-ups in Klute (1971) and The Parallax View (1974).
More than just a spine-tingling exercise in urban paranoia (though it is that too), Klute thrives on a different kind of tension: the tension between the demands of a woman-in-peril scenario, and Jane Fonda’s authoritative portrayal of actress/call-girl Bree Daniels as an emancipated woman. It’s clear that in some ways, Bree herself is the real threat. Fonda won the Oscar for the part, probably the most important in her career.
Fonda’s Oscar-winning performance as Bree does argue for a fullness of character – and of womanhood – that feels radically open to different possibilities and a wide spectrum of emotional experiences, including moments during therapy where she expresses uncertainty about her future and the choices she’s made. She’s powerful. She’s vulnerable. She can be extremely funny at times, too. But mostly, in a film where she struggles to disentangle herself from the obsessions of men, Bree wants to be left alone.
Scott Tobias, The Guardian
A movie resolutely of its moment that still surges with third-rail electricity.
Melissa Anderson, Village Voice
As close to a classic as anything New Hollywood produced.
Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
Alan J. Pakula
Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, Roy Scheider
Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jane Fonda), Academy Awards 1972
Alan J. Pakula
Andy Lewis, Dave Lewis