The Reel Review


A cocky, high-end sex worker’s carefully manicured life servicing older, upper-class women in Los Angeles is destroyed after he is framed for the brutal slaying of a Palm Springs client, just as he starts a romantic relationship with the wife of a prominent politician. Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton star in this 1980 romantic crime drama.

Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton in American Gigolo

There are four stars in this now iconic film from writer/director Paul Schrader (Hardcore, Cat People, First Reformed) – a dashing, top of his game Gere, a strikingly beautiful Hutton, some hypnotically catchy music and stylish visuals of circa 1980 Los Angeles. Kicking off with the iconic song “Call Me” by Blondie in the opening credits, American Gigolo still drips with sex appeal, even after 40 years.

Lauren Hutton and Richard Gere in the now famous nude scene. American Gigolo was the first mainstream film featuring full-frontal male nudity.

Gere impressively makes what could have been an easily unlikable character sympathetic, a sex surrogate of sorts whose work gives him the human connection he craves. We root for him as his life implodes, his character’s materialism revealed as an empty mask to cover up his seedier past as a gay street hustler. A little more of the connection between Gere and Hutton’s characters would have made the romance more convincing, but even so, decked out in Armani suits and a flashy sports car, American Gigolo ultimately is a portrait of profound loneliness salvaged by unconditional love.


• Debbie Harry says she wrote the lyrics for “Call Me” in just a few hours, visualizing it playing over the film’s opening credits of Richard Gere driving his sports car along the California coast. The song became a massive #1 hit.

• Richard Gere says the film’s gay subtext was what intrigued him to take the part after John Travolta dropped out and Christopher Reeve turned it down. Lauren Hutton won her role after Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep each turned down the project, calling it “too dark.”

• Richard Gere and Hector Elizondo would later work together again in 1990’s Pretty Woman.


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