Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Gauntlet (1977)

Not a Dirty Harry Movie #1 (as a longtime Clint Eastwood fan, I cringed when he delivered that weird, disjointed speech at the Republican National Convention a few nights ago. I wanted to remember Clint’s better moments, so I figured I would review his Dirty Harry films, and maybe also his post-spaghetti westerns in October or November. Clint doesn’t play Harry Callahan in either The Gauntlet, or in Tightrope, but he is an urban cop, so what the heck – let’s review them, anyway).   

Synopsis: Dirty Harry gets drunk, hijacks a bus, installs protective armour and becomes B.A. Baracus.

Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “Phoenix cop Ben Shockley’s dream of breaking ‘the big case’ has faded over time. His assignment to escort from Las Vegas ‘a nothing witness for a nothing trial’ seems like another meaningless exercise. Until the fireworks start.”

What Did I Learn?: Ladies, if you want to stop a gang of crazed bikers from beating the crap out of your man, flash your tits.

Really?: 1) So, the Las Vegas cops can fire thousands of rounds into Mally’s (Sondra Locke) home – some of them inches away from Shockley’s head – and he never receives so much as a scratch? 2) Why don’t the tires on the bus deflate until right after the Phoenix cops stop shooting at the bus? And why didn’t somebody think of stopping the bus by shooting the tires? 3) So, nearly every cop in Phoenix stand around, impassively as the police commissioner clearly commits attempted murder, and then Mally not only blows him away, but she and Shockley walk off into the sunset together? 4) If the mob has contacts in both the Phoenix and Las Vegas police departments, I’m a bit surprised Shockley wouldn’t consider surrendering himself to the FBI and explaining his side of the story. 5) Why in the world would the mob provide gambling odds on a hit they’re about to perform? I can’t imagine Tony Soprano doing anything like that.

Rating: Clint Eastwood basically plays a slightly-dumber and much-drunker version of Dirty Harry in The Gauntlet. It’s more of a shoot-em-up/car-chase action thriller than a cop movie, and we see some genuine chemistry between then-real life couple Eastwood and Locke. The Gauntlet is an enjoyable romp through the desert, and a great popcorn movie, so long as you don’t ask too many hard questions about the plot, or the continuity between scenes. 7/10 stars.


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