Following the mysterious disappearance of his businessman friend, would-be private eye John Klute (Sutherland) is seconded into travelling to New York to search for his whereabouts. His chief lead is Bree Daniels (Fonda), a high class prostitute with whom the missing party was known to have corresponded. Though initially wary of each other - Daniels views Klute as just another man to manipulate - the two slowly form a bond of sorts when it becomes clear that a former client is stalking her.
Later to precipitate a string of paranoia-charged 70s thrillers ("The Parallax View" and "All the President's Men") from the director, "Klute" still perhaps stands as Pakula's finest moment. Informed in part by the conventions of film noir - duplicitious female, ambitious private investigator, and murky goings on of the sexual variety - "Klute" manages to distil them all into something highly original and distinctly unsettling.
The taut sense of menace and urban claustrophobia is heightened by the performances. Fonda won an Oscar for her part as the independent woman twisted by emotional contradictions, while Sutherland - as the morally uptight guardian confused by the notion of dependency - more than matches her for intensity. Charles Cioffi and Roy Scheider offer strong support.