Opening note: This film was produced by my friend the late Freddie Fields, famous mostly for being a Hollywood Super Agent to people like Judy Garland. He worked with just about everybody in Hollywood, including Redford, Monroe, Gibson, Gere, McQueen, and Woody Allen. He was married to Polly Bergen, and then to a former Miss Universe (I hadn’t known that; if I had I’d have angled an invitation to his house!), Corrina Tsopei, who is still alive. Always fun to drop names.
This is the movie that really put Richard Gere on the map. Working from a script by the director, Paul Schrader, he does very good work here, to the point that I can almost believe there are actually male prostitutes who care deeply about satisfying their clients. Julian Kaye is a narcissist, no question, a snappy dresser (a career necessity, I realize), and somehow manages to be both shallow and no dummy at the same time. He studies languages. He works hard at improving himself, probably knows the Kama Sutra by heart. But in the end, he’s really just a whore.
He gets in deep doo-doo by being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and is suspected of a grisly double murder. His life begins to fall apart. He realizes he really has no friends at all, everyone is willing to sell him out. The ending, when a woman stands up for him, provides him an alibi and basically saves his handsome bacon, felt unlikely to me, but what came before was fascinating.