American Gigolo (1980)

R | 117 mins | Drama | 1 February 1980

Director:

Paul Schrader

Writer:

Paul Schrader

Producer:

Jerry Bruckheimer

Cinematographer:

John Bailey

Editor:

Richard Halsey

Production Designer:

Ed Richardson

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

       A 18 Jan 1978 LAT news brief announced that actor John Travolta would be paid $2 million to star in the film. An article from Mar/Apr 2004 Hollywood Life reported that Travolta was flown to Milan, Italy, where Giorgio Armani outfitted him with thirty suits and jackets as wardrobe for his upcoming role. Travolta was even photographed in Armani clothes for a two-page trade advertisement, announcing his participation. Travolta kept the clothing but later withdrew from the film. A 2 Dec 1978 LAT news item stated that model-actress Lauren Hutton would star opposite Travolta as his leading lady, and in a show of confidence, Paramount Pictures signed Hutton to a three-picture deal.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Paul Schrader first conceived of the movie while teaching screenwriting at UCLA’s film and television department. To help his students formulate ideas about creating characters and situations for scripts, he would throw out questions about a character’s profession. During this exercise, Schrader became intrigued with the notion that a character making his living as a gigolo could be described further as an “American gigolo.” He added another dimension to his gigolo character by making him a giver but not receiver of affection.
       A 24 Feb 1980 LAT article reported that the film was one of five screenplays that Schrader penned in 1976 when he was still in his twenties. Four of Schrader’s five scripts went on to be produced, and he directed three of the four movies. Schrader noted that the themes of Taxi Driver (1976, see entry), Blue Collar (1978, ... More Less

       A 18 Jan 1978 LAT news brief announced that actor John Travolta would be paid $2 million to star in the film. An article from Mar/Apr 2004 Hollywood Life reported that Travolta was flown to Milan, Italy, where Giorgio Armani outfitted him with thirty suits and jackets as wardrobe for his upcoming role. Travolta was even photographed in Armani clothes for a two-page trade advertisement, announcing his participation. Travolta kept the clothing but later withdrew from the film. A 2 Dec 1978 LAT news item stated that model-actress Lauren Hutton would star opposite Travolta as his leading lady, and in a show of confidence, Paramount Pictures signed Hutton to a three-picture deal.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Paul Schrader first conceived of the movie while teaching screenwriting at UCLA’s film and television department. To help his students formulate ideas about creating characters and situations for scripts, he would throw out questions about a character’s profession. During this exercise, Schrader became intrigued with the notion that a character making his living as a gigolo could be described further as an “American gigolo.” He added another dimension to his gigolo character by making him a giver but not receiver of affection.
       A 24 Feb 1980 LAT article reported that the film was one of five screenplays that Schrader penned in 1976 when he was still in his twenties. Four of Schrader’s five scripts went on to be produced, and he directed three of the four movies. Schrader noted that the themes of Taxi Driver (1976, see entry), Blue Collar (1978, see entry) and Hardcore (1979, see entry) were about “street life,” while American Gigolo centered around “the world of Beverly Hills” and “the elite.”
       The 18 Jan 1978 LAT announced that the film would begin principal photography in Feb 1978. The film’s start was delayed until Sep 1978, according to a brief in the 22 Feb 1978 HR, and a 27 Dec 1978 HR news item stated that the start date would be pushed to Jan 1979. It was then reported in a 23 Jan 1979 HR news article that Travolta would leave the production. When Moment By Moment, (1978, see entry) a film starring Travolta and Lily Tomlin as a young man in love with an older woman, performed poorly at the box office, it was suggested that the similarity in plots made Travolta reticent to revisit the same subject matter. Also, the recent death of his mother, and his father’s illness contributed to his decision to withdraw. The same day, DV reported that Travolta’s representatives had issued denials for two weeks about the actor’s imminent exit from the movie. According to a 18 Jun 1979 Playgirl article, actor Christopher Reeve was offered the starring role but turned it down. On 22 Jan 1979, Paramount Studio executives confirmed that actor Richard Gere, Schrader’s first choice for the role, would replace Travolta. As stated in Playgirl, Gere was paid $350,000 and a percentage from the film’s profits to star.
       A brief in the 31 Jan 1979 HR announced that principal photography would begin 13 Feb 1979. A 15 Apr 1979 LAT article reported that after Travolta left the film, the budget dropped from $9 million to $5.5 million.
       According to a 15 Feb 1979 HR news item, filming had begun in Malibu, CA, and would later move to other Southern CA locations such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills, UCLA’s Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden in Westwood, and Palm Springs. Production notes stated other locations included the Beverly Hilton, the Beverly Wilshire and Beverly Hills Hotels. Restaurant locations included the Daisy Café, Mouling’s, Perino’s, and El Padrino. Sets of Michelle’s bedroom, Det. Sunday’s office, the Polo Lounge and Julian’s apartment were filmed on the Paramount studio lot. Production concluded by mid-Apr 1979.
       A news item in May 1979 Vogue reported that Hutton’s movie wardrobe of thirteen outfits by Italian designer, Aldo Ferrante, was selected from Basile’s spring line. In addition, Hutton paired her outfits with four-inch high heels ordered from the Right Bank Clothing Company.
       A 5 Mar 1980 Var brief stated that the movie earned $15,303,356 after thirty-one days of domestic release.
       A news item in the 16 Jul 1979 DV reported that Schrader and producer Freddie Fields filed a suit In L.A. Superior Court against Paramount Pictures alleging “breach of contract.” According to the suit, Paramount had assured filmmakers of Travolta’s participation as the star but when production was due to begin Feb 1978, the actor was not available. Instead, Travolta committed to filming Urban Cowboy (1980, see entry) and the filmmakers had to settle for Richard Gere, a star of lesser box-office standing. Additionally, the filmmakers requested the court put Cowboy earnings in a trust until their case was settled. The outcome of the lawsuit could not be determined as of the writing of this Note.
       The film received two Golden Globe nominations: Giorgio Moroder for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, and “Call Me,” Best Original Song – Motion Picture.

      The following acknowledgments appear in the end credits: “Our thanks to Giorgio Armani, S.p.A. for assistance with Mr. Gere’s wardrobe;” “Principal costumes for Ms. Hutton furnished by Basile;” and, “Footware for Mr. Gere provided by Roots Footwear.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BFI/Monthly Film Bulletin
May 1980
p. 87.
Daily Variety
23 Jan 1979.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jul 1979.
---
Hollywood Life
Mar/Apr 2004
p. 26.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 1979
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 1980
p. 3, 21.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Dec 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Apr 1979
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
1 Feb 1980
Section V, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
24 Feb 1980
Calendar, p. 28.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 Feb 1980
p. 71.
New York Times
1 Feb 1980
Section III, p. 14.
New York Times
3 Feb 1980
Section III, p. 15.
New Yorker
4 Feb 1980
pp. 107-108.
Newsweek
11 Feb 1980
p. 82.
Playgirl
18 Jun 1979.
---
The New Republic
1 Mar 1980
p. 25.
Time
11 Feb 1980
p. 95.
Variety
30 Jan 1980
p. 28.
Variety
5 Mar 1980.
---
Vogue
May 1979.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Freddie Fields Production
A Film By Paul Shrader
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir trainee
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam tech
Cam tech
Cam tech
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Ed apprentice
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Const coord
Lead person
Asst lead person
Asst lead person
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop
Set dressing
COSTUMES
Cost coord
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Looping ed
Boom person
2d boom person
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Asst eff ed
Voc eff adv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Visual consultant
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Tech adv
Casting asst
Asst to Mr. Schrader
Asst to Mr. Schrader
Asst to Mr. Bruckheimer
Trainer to Mr. Gere
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Extra casting
Extra casting
Extra casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Concerto in A Major (For clarinet) K622," written by Wolfgang A. Mozart.
SONGS
"The Love I Saw In You Is Just A Mirage," written by W. Robinson and M. Tarplin, performed by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, courtesy of Motown Records
"Take Off Your Uniform," written and performed by John Hiatt, courtesy of MCA Records
"Love And Passion," written by Giorgio Moroder and Paul Schrader, performed by Cheryl Barnes, courtesy of Polydor Records
+
SONGS
"The Love I Saw In You Is Just A Mirage," written by W. Robinson and M. Tarplin, performed by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, courtesy of Motown Records
"Take Off Your Uniform," written and performed by John Hiatt, courtesy of MCA Records
"Love And Passion," written by Giorgio Moroder and Paul Schrader, performed by Cheryl Barnes, courtesy of Polydor Records
"Call Me," written by Giorgio Moroder and Deborah Harry, performed by Blondie, courtesy of Chrysalis Records.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
1 February 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 February 1980
Production Date:
13 February--mid April 1979 in various Southern California locations
Copyright Claimant:
Pierre Associates
Copyright Date:
8 May 1980
Copyright Number:
PA70187
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25513
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Beverly Hills, California, gigolo Julian Kay purchases clothing at Juschi, an exclusive men’s boutique, takes a female client home, and drives his Mercedes sports car convertible to visit Anne, the Malibu madam who arranges his dates. After some negotiation, Julian agrees to escort Mrs. Dobrun, who is a new client in town. Back at his Westwood Hotel apartment, Julian exercises in his anti-gravity boots and listens to Swedish language tapes. Pimp Leon Jaimes calls and asks Julian to meet a client after one of his escorts misses an appointment. After servicing Mrs. Dobrun at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Julian has a drink alone at the hotel bar and notices Michelle Stratton speaking French. He converses in French with her and is invited to sit down. Michelle tells him that she is married, although her husband is out of town and she is alone. When Julian tells her he makes his living as a tour guide for women tourists, she asks his price for one night of lovemaking. He tells her she has misunderstood his livelihood and leaves. In Palm Springs, the husband of Judy Rheiman, a new client of Julian’s, wants to watch as the gigolo performs anal sex, and requests that Julian slap his wife. Later at a café, Leon Jaimes tells Julian that the Palm Springs couple wants to hire him again. Meanwhile, Leon is jealous of Julian’s business with Anne and warns that rich women cannot be trusted. Back at his apartment, Julian gets an unexpected visit from Michelle, who fantasizes about sleeping with him. He decides to make love to her but not for money. In the morning, ... +


In Beverly Hills, California, gigolo Julian Kay purchases clothing at Juschi, an exclusive men’s boutique, takes a female client home, and drives his Mercedes sports car convertible to visit Anne, the Malibu madam who arranges his dates. After some negotiation, Julian agrees to escort Mrs. Dobrun, who is a new client in town. Back at his Westwood Hotel apartment, Julian exercises in his anti-gravity boots and listens to Swedish language tapes. Pimp Leon Jaimes calls and asks Julian to meet a client after one of his escorts misses an appointment. After servicing Mrs. Dobrun at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Julian has a drink alone at the hotel bar and notices Michelle Stratton speaking French. He converses in French with her and is invited to sit down. Michelle tells him that she is married, although her husband is out of town and she is alone. When Julian tells her he makes his living as a tour guide for women tourists, she asks his price for one night of lovemaking. He tells her she has misunderstood his livelihood and leaves. In Palm Springs, the husband of Judy Rheiman, a new client of Julian’s, wants to watch as the gigolo performs anal sex, and requests that Julian slap his wife. Later at a café, Leon Jaimes tells Julian that the Palm Springs couple wants to hire him again. Meanwhile, Leon is jealous of Julian’s business with Anne and warns that rich women cannot be trusted. Back at his apartment, Julian gets an unexpected visit from Michelle, who fantasizes about sleeping with him. He decides to make love to her but not for money. In the morning, Michelle admits that she did not expect a night with Julian would be so passionate. At the Sotheby Parke Bernet auction house, Julian advises client Lisa Williams as to items on which to bid. Back at his apartment, Julian reads a newspaper article, relating that Judy Rheiman has been murdered and her jewelry stolen. Soon, Michelle visits, admitting that she is obsessed with Julian. He refuses her money and gifts, and makes love to her. Afterward, she asks him why he sleeps with older women, and he admits that he feels a great sense of accomplishment, giving his clients orgasms after their husbands have neglected them for so long. At the police station, Detective Sunday asks Mr. Rheiman for a list of names, suggesting that Judy’s killer may have been a previous houseguest. Later, the detective meets with Julian, and discovers that Julian was at a pre-auction sale with his client, Lisa Williams, on the night of the Rheiman murder. In a ballroom at a political fund-raiser, Julian and client, Mrs. Laudner, listen to a political speech by Michelle’s husband, Senator Charles Stratton. While waiting on the reception line, Julian observes Michelle with her husband. Meanwhile, Detective Sunday sees Julian getting a shoeshine at a hotel, and informs him that his alibi is flimsy. Julian agrees to appear in a police lineup. Soon, Julian finds his apartment ransacked by the police after they obtain a search warrant. Julian visits Anne to ask for her help but she wants a guarantee that Julian will work for her exclusively and he refuses. When she asks him if he killed Judy, he does not answer. At his apartment, Michelle helps Julian study Swedish, and makes the observation that Julian is unable to receive love. The conversation switches to the Rheiman murder, and Julian expresses the belief that he is being framed. At the police station, Detective Sunday tells Julian and his lawyer that a Rheiman neighbor recognized Julian’s car but could not positively identify him in the lineup. Detective Sunday produces a pair of handcuffs with Judy’s fingerprints found in Julian’s apartment. Although the police did not find the stolen jewelry in Julian’s possession, Sunday believes Julian is responsible for Judy’s tragic accident, but does not arrest him. When Julian visits Lisa Williams at home, he discovers that her husband has lied to protect his wife from being linked to Julian in the newspaper, but without their help, Julian has no alibi. Later, Julian has a meeting with Senator Stratton, who suggests that Julian wants to use blackmail to insure that Stratton will use his influence to make the murder charges disappear. At first, Julian names a price, but then says that he and Michelle are in love and refuses any money. Stratton warns him to stay away from Michelle. Afterward, Julian asks Leon to help him beat the charges. In exchange, Leon wants him to service a rough client but Julian refuses. As Julian returns to his apartment at night, he searches the premises and uncovers a plastic bag full of jewelry hidden underneath his car. At a pay phone, Julian arranges to meet Anne at Perino’s restaurant. There, Julian tells her the police are after him and he urgently needs her help. Since he missed his appointment with her Swedish client the night before, she refuses. Julian excuses himself and meets Michelle Stratton in the restaurant bathroom. She says that her husband has learned the police have the evidence to have Julian arrested. She wants to help, but he tells her the scandal could ruin her life and leaves. In the morning, Julian accuses Leon of framing him to protect his young gigolo boyfriend who committed the crime. When Julian asks how much money it will take to make his problem disappear, Leon replies none because “the other side” has more money. In desperation, Julian offers his savings, working for Leon exclusively and also agreeing to service his homosexual clients, but Leon rejects his offer. Angry, Julian pushes Leon off the terrace, dangling him by his legs. When Julian loses his grip, Leon falls to his death. Julian is arrested and taken to a police station, where he refuses to make a statement. When Michelle visits Julian in prison, she hints that she is hiring an attorney to help with his case, and later, tells police that she was with Julian the night of the murder. Back in the jail visiting room, Michelle tells Julian that she has cleared his name by providing an alibi, and confesses her love. As her hand touches the glass separating them, Julian gives her a look of love and gratitude, as he rests his head against the glass next to her hand.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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