Blu-Ray Spotlight: American Gigolo 4K Limited Edition

Paul Schrader’s ’80s trendsetter gets a fabulous 4K disc from Arrow Video

celluloid consommé
5 min readJun 17, 2024
Box art image courtesy of MVD Entertainment Group.

In 1980, director Paul Schrader pays homage to his favorite European filmmakers: Godard, Bresson, and Bertolucci chief among them. Schrader even enlists Ferdinando Scarfiotti as visual consultant on American Gigolo, injecting a European feel to a film that is set staunchly in LA during the advent of the 1980s.

Schrader populates his film with a myriad of Italian stylistic influences: Giorgio Moroder’s immortal score overlays vibrant European attitudes on Los Angeles’s barren social landscape, men’s fashion explodes into the American world through Armani’s designs (which have only snowballed from Gigolo’s release), and the wide open spaces designed by Scarfiotti translate a spatial discourse into the influence Julian Kaye wields and navigates at the height of his privilege. It may essentially be a re-focused and re-contextualized Conformist, but Schrader taps into something deeply vapid in the grey areas of sex work when men wield fascistic power over other men.


American Gigolo comes in a brand new 4K restoration sourced from the original camera negative in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image is presented in Dolby Vision and is HDR10 compatible. The image’s color is retained beautifully, doing Scarfiotti’s production design a great justice and calls back to the breathtaking lighting and color theory work from The Conformist. The grain levels are resolved wonderfully, with close details popping out while balancing the grain’s texture in the image.

Dark and light shots provide their own inherent beauties; details seem to not be lost in low-lit shots and colors affect in a decidedly different mood than well-lit or daytime shots, where natural tans and whites jump off the screen yet play magnificently with artificial greens, reds, and blues. Simply put, the global debut of Gigolo in 4K is stunning and the ultimate presentation.


The film comes with three audio track options: an original mono and stereo, as well as a 5.1 mix. The film’s weighting on dialogue and sound effects comes underneath a quite bombastic treatment of each soundtrack cue, however. The opening Moroder/Blondie track during the film’s title credit sequence sets a sonic level that competes more than expected with the film’s natural audio and continues throughout, so some volume adjusting during watches will likely occur frequently.

The cleanup on Gigolo’s 5.1 track is otherwise superbly done, but leaves a little to be desired on the mastering front. The music cues jump out in terrific dynamic realization that help place this otherwise experiential chronicle of the localized sexual Americana of LA into the hyperreality of an amalgamated 1979–1980 Italy. This is the biggest nitpick of the release, however the achievement is as grand as they come.

Special Features

American Gigolo comes with a good solid amount of new features, including new interviews, a new commentary, a booklet with the limited edition and a poster.
The detailed list of extras are as follows:

  • Brand new audio commentary with film critic Adrian Martin
  • Below the Surface: brand new interview with writer/director Paul Schrader (19 mins 37 sec)
  • Six Ways to Sunday: a brand new interview with actor Héctor Elizondo on detecting his character. A highly entertaining and informative look into Elizondo’s process during a period of his life where acting was not his top career priority (10 mins 46 sec)
  • The Business of Pleasure, a brand new interview with actor Bill Duke on Leon’s profession. Duke goes more into the homosexual under- and overtones of the film and his turn as Kaye’s opposite in a fascinating interview (15 mins 26 sec)
  • Montages and Monologues, a brand new interview with editor Richard Halsey on putting American Gigolo together (7 mins 15 sec)
  • The Non-Conformist, a brand new interview with camera operator King Baggot on American Gigolo. Baggot outlines his father’s work in early Hollywood and how he got the job shooting the film alongside John Bailey, and their key differences in approach (25 mins 5 sec)
  • Man Machine, a brand new interview with music supervisor & KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox on the music of Giorgio Moroder (15 min 3 sec)
  • American Icon, a brand new interview with Professor Jennifer Clark on American Gigolo and the fashion landscape of the 80s. She chronicles Kaye’s fits and how it changed the landscape of men’s fashion forever, as well as model Lauren Hutton’s less intensive approach to women’s fashion in the film (18 mins 54 sec)
  • Original trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
  • Double-sided foldout poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
  • Six postcard-sized reproduction artcards
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Neil Sinyard, an archival article by Bill Nichols, and original pressbook materials

Note: all special features share the same disc with the film in this single-disc release.

Packshot image of physical extras courtesy of MVD Entertainment Group.

Final Thoughts

Arrow Video’s 4K presentation of American Gigolo is perhaps the last stop on how the film should be experienced. Even Paul Schrader skeptics will find something unique between the films he made that can be seen as essentially variations on the Taxi Driver theme, something Gigolo absolutely is not. It is ultimately Schrader’s only European art film with every element authentically brushed onto an Italo-Franco canvas.

The fact that the film’s only exception in its Euro arthouse approach is that its photography is set in the USA’s west coastal California proves that Schrader’s story is both an American and European one, perhaps it even adopts a global one in this pursuit. Even Schrader’s filmic sins of lifting the attitudes and thematic beats of The Conformist and Pickpocket become moot in examination of how his pastiche becomes an animal of its own, something that in retrospect seems to echo in complemental works like Mary Harron’s American Psycho or in the realm of television, Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal.

The contextual and analytical lens the film’s commentary and special features provide give American Gigolo a depth for us to digest far more than we had before, putting this near the top of Schrader’s work as an auteur. This release is certainly not to be missed and is easily and without question a highly recommended release.

American Gigolo is released as of tomorrow, June 18th on the Arrow Video label distributed by MVD Entertainment Group.