I watched American Gigolo not too long after it first came out in 1980, and found it a reasonably enjoyable thriller, though not in the same league as Taxi Driver, which also had a screenplay written by Paul Schrader. When it cropped up on the TV schedules,I decided to take another look. It's still perfectly watchable, but it's also a very good illustration of the fact that nothing dates faster than fashion. American Gigolo was quite stylish thirty-odd years ago, but now it is in some respects a period piece.
Richard Gere plays Julian, the eponymous gigolo, and Lauren Hutton, the wife of a rising politician, falls for him in a big way. Unfortunately, Julian is mixed up with some very dodgy people, and is hired to perform with a rich financier's wife while the rich financier, who is keen on violence towards women, watches. A couple of days later, the wife is murdered, and Julian becomes the prime suspect.
The crime plot is straightforward, and not terribly interesting, something which originally was quite well disguised by the sexy style of the film, but which is now rather more obvious. Lauren Hutton is a woman of legendary beauty, and Richard Gere is a very good-looking man, and (although the likes of the equally charismatic Julie Christie, and also John Travolta, were considered for the parts at one time) their appeal helps to explain why the film was, and I think remains, quite popular. Nina van Pallandt (remember the singing duo Nina and Frederick?) also features, but although the film has quite a few good moments, overall it now seems excessively long, with less to it than meets the eye.
There's an interesting contrast between the music used in Taxi Driver and the soundtrack of this movie. Bernard Herrmann scored Taxi Driver, and although at the time he was coming to the end of his career, and had been abandoned by Hitchcock, there is a timelessness about his music which helps to make it memorable. Giogio Moroder composed the soundtrack of American Gigolo, and although I like his work, again that electronic sound now has a very Eighties feel about it. This is not by any means a bad movie, and is still a perfectly good time-passer. But the fashionable flourishes that were integral to its original success are now more like an encumbrance.