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Film / American Gigolo

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American Gigolo is a 1980 crime drama film written and directed by Paul Schrader.

Julian Kaye (Richard Gere) is that rarest of rare things: a male prostitute who services women. Julian is a $1,000-per-night hooker who pretends to be a chauffeur and/or translator but instead brings sexual pleasure to the rich ladies of Malibu, Beverly Hills, and the rest of the Los Angeles uppercrust. One evening he meets Michelle Stratton (Lauren Hutton) at a swanky L.A. restaurant and mistakes her for his client of the evening. Michelle wasn't his client, but when she finds out what sexy, mysterious Julian does for a living she's intrigued. She find him again and pays for his services. Soon, they are falling in love.

Meanwhile, Julian is sent by his pimp Leon (Bill Duke) to the Palm Springs home of one Mr. Rheiman and his wife Judy. Mr. Rheiman wants Julian to have sex with his wife, he wants to watch, and he wants Julian to hit Judy. Julian doesn't care for that last bit, as he's in the business of romantic pleasure and not "kink" such as sadomasochism. We never do find out if he hits Judy or not, but a few days later, Julian reads in the newspaper that Mrs. Rheiman was murdered. Soon Detective Sunday from LAPD Homicide (H├ęctor Elizondo) is nosing around and asking questions. A horrified Julian soon realizes that he is being framed for murder.

Giorgio Moroder composed the music. The song "Call Me", composed by Moroder and Debbie Harry and performed by Harry's band Blondie, became a massive hit single.


  • American Title: American Gigolo, a title with a heavy dose of irony.
  • Call-Back:
    • When Julian catches Michelle following him on a sidewalk, it's cute and flirty. When Julian later catches a man following him on the sidewalk, it's far more ominous.
    • Early in the movie Julian is trying to get one of his rich clients to buy him a fancy stereo. Later, after he's realized he's being framed, he smashes the stereo when searching for Judy Rheiman's missing jewelry.
  • Chalk Outline: We don't get a close look at the crime scene photo of Judy Rheiman but the outline around her body is still visible.
  • Dark Reprise: Up-tempo theme song "Call Me" is heard over the opening credits. Moroder synthesizer renditions of "Call Me" are heard throughout the movie as Julian is up to his sexy exploits. However, later in the film when Julian is desperate and wanted for murder, the "Call Me" melody is played much slower and in a lower key.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After two deaths, after he's humiliated, arrested for murder, and thrown into prison, Julian is finally freed when Michelle provides him with a (false) alibi. With Michelle's marriage ruined she and Julian will be free to live a life together. (Of course, that doesn't address the matter of the unsolved murder; see Karma Houdini below.)
  • Fanservice Extra: The two topless female hookers sunning themselves on Anne's porch when Julian comes to call.
  • Film Noir: Neo-noir. A Los Angeles male prostitute who wants nothing more than to sex the ladies finds himself being framed for murder.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Mr. Rheiman's command that Julian hit Judy establishes him as a slimy a-hole, but it also sets up the moment a couple of scenes later where Julian reads about Judy's murder.
    • Leon, who wants to lure Julian into gay prostitution, tells him that all the rich middle-aged ladies that he services will turn on him in an instant. He's right; the rich Beverly Hills wife who was with Julian at the time of the Rheiman murder refuses to admit it, leaving him without an alibi, and his pimp Anne refuses to lift a finger to help him out.
  • High-Class Call Girl: A very rare straight male example. Julian takes $1000/night to service older rich ladies.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Male example. Julian is good-natured guy, and even believes that he doing nothing more than bringing back to older women forgotten romantic pleasures.
  • It's All About Me: A panicked Julian finds Anne in a fancy restaurant, tells her that he's wanted for murder, and begs for help. Anne could not give less of a crap, instead getting mad at him for not meeting the Swedish lady that he was supposed to pick up at the airport. She tells Julian that she has no interest in helping him.
  • Karma Houdini: Sure, Julian avoids going to prison for a crime he didn't commit when Michelle gives him an alibi. But it sure seems likely that Mr. Rheiman is going to get away with framing him, and possibly with plotting the death of his wife, and the young blonde dude is definitely going to get away with murder.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Julian gets out of bed and walks over to a window, in the nude, after sex with Michelle.
  • Miss Kitty: Anne, who runs a stable of male and female prostitutes and is miffed at Julian for not turning over more of his salary. She throws him to the wolves when he becomes inconvenient.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Richard Gere in various states of undress, Richard Gere exercising in nothing but gym shorts, and the infamous male frontal nudity scene.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: In the opening montage Julian drives his snazzy sports car up to a men's fashion store and buys himself a sharp new suit. He's always impeccably dressed in the height of 1980 men's fashion, until he's running from the cops and starts to look a lot more disheveled. (This film is credited with making Armani very popular in Hollywood.)
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: As the frame and police case fall into place, Julian's appearance and mannerisms drastically change. He starts to wear dirty, unkempt clothes and grows a five o'clock shadow. He trashes his swank serviced apartment and flash Mercedes Benz convertible, then abandons both and goes on the run. He rents an anonymous Ford Pinto and spends his days and nights cruising dodgy neighborhoods while anxiously chain-smoking cigarettes. This is lampshaded by almost everyone he bumps into.
    Anne: The way you look now, you couldn't even get a maid to fuck you!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Did Julian hit Judy when Mr. Rheiman told him to? We never find out, as the scene cuts away.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Leon, the pimp who sent Julian to the Rheiman house, more frequently matches male prostitutes up with other men. Julian finds him at a gay nightclub. The muscular dudes on the dance floor are either in leather gear or shirtless.
  • Your Other Left: A throwaway gag. When Julian is in the lineup and they're told to turn right, suspect #3 turns left, leading the annoyed cop to say "No, right."