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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

80/80 - Running the Guantlet

Directed by Clint Eastwood, 1977's The Gauntlet is almost an anti-Dirty Harry movie. Clint's character Ben Shockley is a washed out cop - the first real shot of him reveals his drinking problem when a empty bottle of Jack Daniels drops from his car as he stumbles out of the driving seat.

Cinema Retro called this Clint's worse movie - "arguably the worst of Eastwood's career, though The Rookie might also be worthy of the dubious honor."

Though why this movie isn't better thought of is beyond me - True, it's no Outlaw Josey Wales or Gran Torino, but it's certainly several steps above the risible The Rookie. In fact in terms of being an action/adventure movie The Gauntlet doesn't put a step wrong. And yeah the all action climax may be absurd but it's bloody exciting all the same.

In many ways The Gauntlet is the most western-like of all Clint's cop thrillers, well with the obvious exception of Co0gan's Bluff - it's certainly structured like a western - washed up lone lawman sent to bring in a witness for a trial, along the way the lawman realises that the witness, a prostitute played by Sondra Locke is far more important than anyone is letting on and together they face up to many attempts on their lives.

Eastwood's character realises that the reason he has been selected for this assignment is that the powers that be don't want the witness to get to trial, and so they selected the cop least likely to get the job done. That realisation hits him hard and he decides to prove those taking him for a fool, wrong. And also uncover the corruption at the highest level of the city police department.

"There are people betting that I can't do my job. Well they're full of shit."

As they travel the final few miles, in a heavy armoured bus, Eastwood realises that the entire police department are out to stop them.

And that final showdown is something to behold - the city streets become a war zone. Ignore the critics and seek out this movie - true, it's a dumb action movie but it's a dumb action movie with style and Eastwood still pisses all over current day action stars.


Evan Lewis said...

At the time, this may have set a record for most bullets fired in a single movie. Now, though, I reckon it's way down on the list.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm with you. I liked it pretty well. I liked that he was a different character than Dirty Harry.