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A rundown cop who's always on the drink named Ben Shockley is assigned
to accompany a foul-mouthed prostitute in Las Vegas to a protection
program across the country in Phoenix to testify against highly placed
authority figure, although first they have to get through a gauntlet of
bad cops and the mob who actually want them both dead. So now the odds
aren't in their favour, but Shockley is determine to do his job, no
matter how big the odds are against them.
Classic Eastwood is on show here people. Although, it's not one of his greatest nor particularly original. But this reasonably familiar cop / action film delivers what it intended to do by giving us a taut little road movie across baron landscapes with a tremendous amount of brutally fast-paced shootouts and grand chase scenes. I mean a lot! To sum it up, shootouts, shootouts and even more shootouts. Watch things go boom with a lot going on at such a furious pace! What more could you want?
So you ask, why is this nothing out of the ordinary? Because this kind of thing wasn't particularly new within this era of films. There were definite shades of Dirty Harry; Eastwood's character Shockley was the exact opposite to Harry though. The one thing you'll notice is that there is no real excuse or depth behind the plot, but to stage one chaotic and stretched out shootout after another. Sometimes they feel like they go on forever! Nonetheless, they might be far-fetched and fail logic, but they're rather well set-up by director Eastwood. Giving us a sudden burst around each corner and because of that there's hardly a mundane moment uh, maybe Eastwood did overkill certain shootouts, but it did get the blood pumping! So, when the "exaggerated" climax hits the screen - at least the film was consistent in that aspect.
The performances were top-notch, with Eastwood's persona making any film his in watchable. He gives a stellar performance. Sondra Locke as Gus Mally was perfect. The chemistry between the leads was outstanding. The scathing and rough dialogue amongst them was a treat with great use of sarcasm and offbeat humour. The biting conversations truly built on the paranoia at hand with many top one-liners. This gives the film a buddy type of feel. Other key factors are the soothing blues soundtrack, well established camera shots that capture a beautiful landscape, but also the panic of the situation they face. While, there might be underlining themes running throughout the plot, I just didn't read too much into it.
Just leave your brain at the door and enjoy the total chaos and destruction that follows with your screen being sprayed with bullets! Definitely recommended for fans of Eastwood and gritty action films.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The challenge of playing the cop, Ben Shockley, in "The Gauntlet" was
that the character was virtually the opposite of Harry Callaghan: he's
a loser, a man resigned to doing twenty years in the force and then
looking forward to collecting his pension
His car is full of empty
whiskey bottles, his life is a shambles, he's never even been given a
big case let alone solved one
He is sent from Phoenix to Las Vegas to
'bring back a nothing witness for a nothing trial'.
The 'nothing' witness, Gus Mally, is not the man he expects; in the first place she's a woman, Augusta Mally, secondly she's a hooker, thirdly, despite her non-stop profanities, she's a graduate of Finch College and lastly and hereby hangs the tale she's not a 'nothing witness'. The mob who are to be tried will do anything to prevent her testifying
The dangers inherent in their journey together only slow1y become apparent to Shockley despite the fact that the Vegas police literally raze to the ground the couple's initial hideaway, while they remain inside almost to the last moment
Within the turbulent situation, Shockley and Mally manage to transform their original dislike for each other and each other's way of life into a love of sorts, in the 'African Queen type tradition.' As the couple begins to understand each other, they realize how their relationship could serve each other She would no longer need to be a whore He could regain his self-esteem as a policeman Shortly before the final showdown Mally telephones her mother to say she has found her man; from then on there is an added imperative that they survive in order to give their love and their relationship a chance to work out
Sondra Locke achieved the improbably-written transformation from hooker to sociologist convincingly But in this film, more than ever, Eastwood wasn't trying for any praise or approval from the critics; probably the reverse The overkill is part of the entertainment' he claimed.' You just have to accept it on an outrageous level.' There were those who didn't
But these comments only served to inform Eastwood that at least he had been excessive enough to upset some people It would be awful to think you're being outrageous and to outrage nobody But Eastwood knew just how far he could take an audience with him By surviving the unsurvivable, Eastwood proved to himself once more that the mass audience will suspend all sensible disbelief as they do in the best of the Bond films providing the action carries them and their fantasies along
In the context of many of his other films, "The Gauntlet" is hardly one of Eastwood's most substantial works The appeal of an unlikely love affair between opposites, fertilized by an unceasing barrage of gunfire was undoubted1y considerable But as a whole, the film tended to operate rather as an exercise in special effects than as any more considered piece of social statement of the kind that gave such strength to "Dirty Harry."
A one-time Steve McQueen-Barbra Streisand vehicle until McQueen met
Streisand, and subsequently a Clint Eastwood-Streisand vehicle until
Eastwood met Streisand, The Gauntlet sees Clint sending up his Dirty
Harry image as a none-too-smart washed out drunken cop escorting Sondra
Locke's foul-mouthed "nothing witness in a nothing trial" from Las
Vegas to Phoenix and finding the Mob and every cop in two States
determined to stop them - even the Vegas bookies are taking bets on
ever-lengthening odds (70-1) on their not making it. From the days when
Clint still made films in broad daylight and could film interiors
without turning all the lights out and seen as wildly over the top at
the time (even the famed Frank Frazetta poster art offered Clint as a
Conan-esquire muscular figure in ripped shirt with girl in one hand and
gun in the other), now it's almost an exercise in naturalism for the
genre. Sure there's more firepower on display that in all of Eastwood's
previous films combined (including both Where Eagles Dare and Kelly's
Heroes!), with cars, houses and buses shot to pieces with gleeful
abandon while helicopters crash into power lines, but somehow Michael
Butler and Dennis Shryack's script manages to sell the increasing
absurdities in a perfectly conceived audience picture that's designed
to entertain and does just that.
There's a nice line in self-deprecating wit that never quite crosses the line into outright stupidity and Eastwood's tight direction keeps the action moving without losing sight of the fact that it's the characters that really need to sell the film. Just as importantly the on screen relationship between Eastwood and Locke hadn't overstayed its welcome yet as it quickly would over their subsequent films, their initial vicious sparring giving way to genuinely convincing tenderness in the later scenes, giving you a pair you can actually root for. Great fun if you're not expecting gritty realism - like the end credit says, 'Law enforcement procedures depicted in this film do not necessarily depict those of any law enforcement agency mentioned herein.' No **** Sherlock.
This baroque and utterly implausible action drama subscribes to the over-the-top theory of movie making. Huge quantities of bullets, bikers and bad apples are unleashed on Mr.Eastwood, Ms. Locke, his remand witness, and us, the audience. Eastwood executes the gauntlet with great resolve and resourcefulness: he even knows how to fortify a bus with armored plates. Clint is in peak form and Locke will never again reach the heights that she does here. Clearly, the two have wonderful screen chemistry and would remain together as a couple for more than a decade. Watching the film today, I think there is a scene that went missing--or was cut. It occurred at the beginning of the movie and involved the sadistic police commissioner and Locke's prostitute. The scene is later described in great detail by Locke when she and Clint are on the lam in a desert cave. So where is it? My dad took me to see this "R" rated film on a bitterly cold night in early February '78--it was released in late '77. I think he was unaware of the rating because I did get an eyeful that night. Make sure you see this movie letterboxed in order to absorb all the destructive power and subtle artistry on display.
How many rounds of ammunition can you fire into a house before it will
collapse? Or maybe you'd like to see how many rounds you can fire into
a bus before it will stop running. If you're interested, or if you just
like Clint Eastwood, then The Gauntlet is for you! Our film centers
around Clint playing a sloppy policeman from Phoenix who is assigned to
transport a sassy hooker (Sondra Locke) from Las Vegas back to his
jurisdiction. This will not be an easy task. First of all, this
Eastwood character is no Dirty Harry. His Ben Shocklee is an alcoholic,
and barely capable of doing his job. The hooker's testimony could
potentially bring down some important figures, so the cops and mafia
also don't want them to return to Phoenix. In addition to all that, the
woman is such a bitch that even a trip across town with her would be
almost too much to bear. The two are put in one harrowing situation
after another as Clint proves that he has the moxy to simply "get the
This film, if made by or starring inferior talent, would be nothing short of ridiculous. Several situations that arise in this film seem improbable at best, and often ludicrous. Eastwood's charm, and the razor-sharp dialog keep it moving along. You end up almost believing it could happen. Clint Eastwood is that talented. His acting and direction are as good as ever.
The film has plenty of memorable scenes. Along with the shootouts, we get some very amusing and often very funny situations. One of my favorites is when Eastwood single-handedly talks an entire motorcycle gang into surrendering one of their bikes or facing the consequences of his pistol. And what would an Eastwood/Locke film be without a scene where she is sexually assaulted? Though disturbing, the scene has a hilarious conclusion. Another scene belongs to Locke, herself. In it, she puts a foul-mouthed police flunky in his place using some very sexually explicit words.
That a film which would seemingly be quite ridiculous on paper is made into such a fine product is a testimony to the genius of Clint Eastwood. He is without a doubt my favorite actor of all time.
9 of 10 stars for The Gauntlet.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the 1970s films became more violent. No doubt about it. And The
Gauntlet is unquestionably a violent film. Buildings are reduced to
rubble, vehicles are shot to pieces, people are pumped full of lead,
and plenty of blood is spilled.... all in the name of entertainment!
This noisy Clint Eastwood vehicle is good fun, with lots of exciting
sequences, though thoroughly unbelievable pretty much from the start.
Honest, hard-working Phoenix cop Ben Shockley (Eastwood) is sent by Comissioner Blakelock (William Prince) to bring in a prostitute who may be able to provide key testimony in a high profile trial. But from the moment Shockley meets Gus Malley (Sondra Locke), he suddenly finds himself in the firing line.... and it's not the usual bad guys who are after him, but the cops. Seems Malley's testimony could implicate a major police figure in sleaze and scandal, and the man in question is none other than Shockley's boss Comissioner Blakelock. Shockley attempts to get his witness back to Phoenix, despite the fact that every cop on the force has been ordered by Blakelock to gun the pair of them down.
The climactic sequence, in which Eastwood and Locke head for Phoenix City Hall in an armour-plated bus while sharp-shooters try to blast the living hell out of the vehicle, is truly astounding. As a destructive set piece not many sequences can rival it even to this day. The film contains many similarly noisy, destructive, memorable scenes. Admittedly, there are times when believability is markedly lacking (e.g the bit where Clint and Sondra are pursued by a helicopter while aboard a motorbike - and the sniper aboard the helicopter repeatedly fails to gun them down). However, on the whole The Gauntlet is good fun. Switch your brain down a gear or two and enjoy....
Theatre of the absurd -- Clint-style. This fast-paced, mindless, often silly film always remains true to itself, and thus succeeds on its terms. Excessive violence is used repeatedly as a metaphor for absurdity. William Prince and his protege who plays Federspiel are two of the most memorable malevolent bureaucrats in film history. Supporting cast members are all in on the joke, and play it for all its worth -- even the usually uptight Sondra Locke scores wonderfully in this one. I usually abhor excessive violence, but this film really uses it for laughs. A guilty pleasure.
Hands down, Sondra Lockes best performance.So then,why does this film
need all the over the top violence? It does so because most men won't
want to admit they like a love story, or go to the movies to see one.
This movie is a top rate love story, from beginning to end. What
possibly could this movie have in common with Fight Club,,or even As
Good as it Gets? In Fight Club, Ed Norton meets a girl that he
obviously can not handle , so he reinvents himself. Same with Ben
Shockley. He meets his match, so he must act quickly, making up a story
about snakes at the cave. He then thinks on his feet, and acquires
himself a bike, impressing the girl and cementing their alliance. Jack
Nicholson breaks down to Helen Hunt and claims "You make me want to be
a better man".Estwood starts saying please, and and emotes a deep trust
in his counterpart; He realizes he must soften up a little to keep the
lady around.He does. Shockley isn't some phony Top Gun hero who loses
the girl, he's a loser who does what he has to get the woman in love
with him, and it works, this is his only chance at love.
This is Lockes best film. Is it because of the acting or is this Lockes personality? She does it well enough where you honestly believe she is ad libbing at least half of her lines, pulling them off the top of her tongue. She sizzles, oozing sex in the back seat of the cop car. You honestly believe she is so used to verbal abuse that she sits there and takes the insults. She is just playing possum, lying in wait. She takes her turn, and delivers a knockout counter-punch to the constable,forcing his mind to admit that he is just a sleazeball flunkie. What is best, is that nothing but honesty and cold reality come out of her mouth. Eastwood accepts the truth, and lives. The constable refuses, and dies. Locke is the anti-feminazi. She saves her mans life, and immediately wants to go back to being a real woman, in his arms.This movie deserves a ten, because the action scenes are just there so people can handle all of the raw truth in the movie. A must buy.
The Gauntlet is the second of six films that Clint Eastwood did with
Sondra Locke, an amount that certainly qualifies them as a screen team
of note. They were for 15 years a team off the screen as well.
The Gauntlet casts Locke as a hooker who is being subpoenaed as a witness in an organized crime case. She's in Las Vegas where if you'll recall prostitution is legal and apparently she's learned some interesting information. More interesting than she realizes because there are some people who want to make very certain she does not reach Phoenix where the Maricopa County District Attorney has her for a witness.
Assigned to the case is Clint Eastwood who is characterized by himself as a tired old time server of a cop. He's not by reputation with the Phoenix, PD a Harry Callahan. But to the regret of forces who want to see Locke dead and consider him an incompetent and expendable, Clint fools them all.
As a film The Gauntlet goes at a good clip and the suspense from the first attack against Eastwood and Locke does not let up for a second. The dialog between Eastwood and Locke is crisp and entertaining and the action sequences well staged. The two leads get good support from Pat Hingle as Eastwood's luckless partner and William Prince the corrupt Chief of the Phoenix PD.
I'm not sure whether Prince wants Locke dead for her testimony linking him to organized crime or for the fact she can testify to some alternate sexual practices he favors. Either way Prince is absolutely manic about making sure they never get to Phoenix alive.
For fans of Clint Eastwood, The Gauntlet is one of his best films, one of my favorites of his, and something not to be missed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Possible spoiler - As the bus drives through Phoenix, police line up on
either side of the street to empty thousands of rounds into the bus.
Literally dozens of policemen are in the line of fire (across the
street from each other) and nobody seems to notice.
Also, at the courthouse, as they're again surrounded by dozens of police on ALL sides, Clint gets shot by the bad guy (police standing next to & behind everybody) and NOBODY flinches - apparently certain that bullets at close range don't go through people. Finally, as everybody is lying there bleeding (but not dead) not ONE policeman offers assistance or bothers to start taking all the guns away. Could be the dumbest &^%$%#$#ing movie ever.
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