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George At 

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American Gigolo

In 1980, there was no movie with a bigger buzz than AMERICAN GIGOLO. A young Richard Gere had headlined in "Yanks" the year before to mild success, but this was his breakout role.

Gere stars as Los Angeles male escort Julian, buffed and polished to be every woman's fantasy at an exorbitant hourly rate.

Writer/Director Paul Schrader made this film a year after descending into a similar seedy social underbelly with George C. Scott looking for his runaway daughter in 'Hardcore".

Schrader balances the endless shots of shiny Mercedes, perfect suits, shoes, sunglasses and modern beach side homes with a palpable loneliness that Julian tries to ignore in his pay for play relationships.

Soon, Julian finds himself in a new kind of relationship with Michelle (Lauren Hutton) at the same time he falls under investigation for murder when one of his tricks ends up roughed up and killed a couple nights after his visit.

Bill Duke (Predator) brings some menace as Leon, a pimp with little regard for Julian's standards and Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman) brings humor and edginess to his role as the detective convinced Julian is guilty.

Gere took a lot of heat when the film was released from critics who found him cold and emotionless, but I feel like they're missing the point. Watch Gere's Julian when he realizes he's framed or when he sees a spark with Hutton of something beyond what he's experienced.

Gere's good, Duke and Elizondo are better.

Very 80's in its frank nudity, casual drug use and Blondie music ("Call Me" stll holds up just fine) Gigolo is an interesting dive into the darker side of hustling.

Giorgio Morodor delivers an interesting, driving score, hinting at the masterpiece score he'd deliver two years later for Schrader's "Cat People", to this day one of my favorite movie scores.

No one's better at forcing us to explore humanity's dark side than Schrader. With the screenplays for "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull" and writing & directing "Hardcore", "Auto Focus" and GIGOLO, the man's a brilliant tour guide of our darkest drives.

Put on your shades, slide lower in your seat and hang on. Julian's journey into the dark gets a B.

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