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American Gigolo


American Gigolo

American Gigolo
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Schrader
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Written by Paul Schrader
Starring Richard Gere
Lauren Hutton
Hector Elizondo
Nina Van Pallandt
Bill Duke
Music by Giorgio Moroder
Cinematography John Bailey
Edited by Richard Halsey
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates February 8, 1980
Running time 117 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4,800,000
Box office $22,743,674[1] (domestic)

American Gigolo is a 1980 American crime drama film starring Richard Gere, written and directed by Paul Schrader. Schrader considers it one of four similar films, which he calls "double bookends": Taxi Driver, bookended by Light Sleeper, and American Gigolo bookended by The Walker.[2]


  • Plot summary 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Plot summary

Julian Kaye (Richard Gere) is a male escort in Los Angeles whose job supports his expensive taste in cars, stereophonic equipment, cocaine and clothes. He is blatantly narcissistic and superficial; however, he claims to take some pleasure in his work from being able to sexually satisfy women.

When on an assignment for his primary procuress, Anne (Nina Van Pallandt), he meets Michelle Stratton (Lauren Hutton), the unhappy wife of a local politician, who becomes interested in him. Julian's other pimp, Leon (Bill Duke), sends him to the house of a financier, Mr. Rheiman, who asks Julian to physically abuse and have sex with his wife while he watches them.

As Julian begins to get to know Michelle, he learns that the financier's wife, Mrs. Rheiman, was murdered. Los Angeles Police Department Detective Sunday (Hector Elizondo) investigates Julian as a primary suspect. Though he was with a client, Lisa Williams (K Callan), on the night of the murder, the client refuses to give Julian an alibi in order to protect her and her husband's reputations.

As Julian's relationship with Michelle deepens, suspicion of the murder mounts against him. He soon realizes that he is being framed and grows increasingly desperate. His mounting anguish is visually represented by a degeneration in style; his clothes become dirty and rumpled, he goes unshaven, and he goes incognito in a cheap rental car, after discovering that his car has been tampered with.

Julian finally confronts Leon, who confesses that one of the other, younger gigolos who works for him had killed the wealthy man's wife, and Leon had conceived the plan to frame Julian. After an argument, Julian pushes Leon over the apartment balcony and he falls to his death.

With no one to help him, Julian ends up in jail, awaiting trial for the murder. However, when all seems lost, Michelle risks her reputation and that of her husband to provide Julian with the alibi that can save him from prison.



Christopher Reeve reportedly turned down the part of Julian Kaye despite being offered a million-dollar fee,[3] before Richard Gere became attached to the role. Gere said in 2012 that he was drawn to the role because of its gay subtext. "I read it and I thought, 'This is a character I don't know very well. I don't own a suit. He speaks languages; I don't speak any languages. There's kind of a gay thing that's flirting through it and I didn't know the gay community at all.' I wanted to immerse myself in all of that and I had literally two weeks. So I just dove in."[4]

John Travolta became interested in the part and briefly replaced Gere before getting "cold feet" and dropping out.[5][6] This is not the only role that Travolta has turned down only to be taken by Gere: it had previously happened with Days of Heaven (1978)[7] and occurred again when Travolta was offered the lead in both An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Chicago (2002).[8] Gere's very brief nude scenes marked the first time a major Hollywood actor was frontally nude in a film.[9][10] According to Gere, the nudity was not in the original script. "It was just in the natural process of making the movie. I certainly felt vulnerable, but I think it's different for men than women."[4]

Julie Christie was originally cast in the role of Michelle Stratton but her departure was precipitated by Gere's replacement of Travolta.[6] By the time Gere had returned to the project, Lauren Hutton had already been hired. Meryl Streep was also offered the part of Michelle but declined because she didn't like the tone of the film.[11]

Schrader acknowledges that Pickpocket (1959) by the French director Robert Bresson was a direct influence on the film;[12][13] the composition of the final shot draws heavily from the film,[14][15] as does the final dialogue.[16] Schrader later provided an introduction to the Criterion Collection DVD of Pickpocket. Schrader re-visited many of the themes of American Gigolo in his 2007 film, The Walker,[17] and says the idea for that film came about while wondering what would have become of the Julian Kaye character.[18]

The film is widely credited to have established

External links

  1. ^ Box Office Mojo. 2010. American Gigolo (1980). [Online], Inc. (Updated 2010) Available at: [Accessed 24 January 2010]. Archived at
  2. ^ "American Cinema of the 70s". The Story of Film: An Odyssey. Season 1. 2011. Event occurs at 28 minutes in. More4.
  3. ^ Holley, J., 2004. A Leading Man for Spinal Cord Research. The Washington Post, [internet] 12 October. Available at [Accessed 25 January 2010]. Archived at
  4. ^ a b Richard Gere Accepted American Gigolo Role Because of Gay Subtext
  5. ^ Jones, C. 2002. Richard Gere: On guard. [Online] BBC (Updated 27 Dec 2002) Available at: [Accessed 25 January 2010]. Archived at
  6. ^ a b Yahoo! Movies. 2010. Julie Christie Biography. [Online] Yahoo! (Updated 2010) Available at: [Accessed 26 January 2010]. Archived at
  7. ^ Gilbey, R. 2009. Who's next for a Mickey Rourke-style comeback?. [Online] (Updated 17 Feb 2009) Available at: [Accessed 25 January 2010]. Archived at
  8. ^ Lawrence, W., 2007. Travolta as you've never seen him before. Times Online, [internet] 30 June. Available at [Accessed 25 January 2010]. Archived at
  9. ^ Persall, S., 2009. Male movie stars' naughty bits are nothing new. St. Petersburg Times, [internet] 7 March. Available at [Accessed 24 January 2010]. Archived at
  10. ^ Dirks, T. 2009. History of Sex in Cinema: The Greatest and Most Influential Sexual Films and Scenes. [Online] (Updated 2009) Available at: (part 27) [Accessed 24 January 2010]. Archived at
  11. ^ Smurthwaite, N., 1984. The Meryl Streep Story. Beaufort Books. ISBN 978-0-8253-0229-9.
  12. ^ Thompson, R.J., 1998. Pickpocket. Senses of Cinema, [online] 1998. Available at: [Accessed 27 January 2010]. Archived at
  13. ^ Auty, C. 2008. Robert Bresson's Pickpocket. [Online] Film Forum (Updated 4 Aug 2008) Available at: [Accessed 27 January 2010]. Archived at
  14. ^ Johnston, S., 2003. Film-makers on film: Paul Schrader., [internet] 25 January. Available at [Accessed 26 January 2010]. Archived at
  15. ^ Dawson, T. 2005. Pickpocket (2005). [Online] BBC (Updated 3 Apr 2005) Available at: [Accessed 26 January 2010]. Archived at
  16. ^ Sight & Sound. 2007. Robert Bresson: Alias Grace. British Film Institute, [internet] November 2007. Available at: [Accessed 26 January 2010]. Archived at
  17. ^ Malcolm, D., 2007. American gigolo in the frame. London Evening Standard, [internet] 9 August. Available at [Accessed 27 January 2010]. Archived at
  18. ^ Schrader, P. 2007. The Walker. [Online] Landmark Theatres (Updated 2007) Available at: [Accessed 27 January 2010]. Archived at
  19. ^


See also

American Gigolo received mixed to positive reviews from critics, as the film holds a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 21 reviews.



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