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Here is a very, very tense thriller about a New Orleans cop (Clint
Eastwood) finding a serial killer.....and vice-versa.
This is a very dark (literally) film with a big film-noir look and feel. Neo-noir, I guess, is what they call post-1950 gritty crime films like these.
Eastwood's character in "Tightrope" is a complex one. On one hand, he's a wonderfully loving father of two sweet girls (one played by his actual daughter, and played well), and yet he is a weak man when it comes to prostitutes. But, whatever side he shows - light or dark - he's interesting, as always. So is the female star of this movie, Genevieve Bujold, a woman with a very intriguing face and just a trace of her French accent. Dan Heyada contributes strongly in a low- key performance.
Yes, this film is a bit too much on the seedy side for my normal tastes, definitely sordid, but very well done. It's a story that grabs you early and locks you in all the way.
...in a dark and unsettling psychological thriller. Directed by Clint's
protégé Richard Tuggle (who wrote the screenplay to the earlier
Siegel-Eastwood classic ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979), the film's first
half is uncertain and suffers from clichéd (albeit well staged and
visualised) New Orleans locations - shady whorehouse dives, red light
tinged bars and over officious police procedural rooms and locker-room
The plot itself is functional but nothing special: a serial killer with a penchant for young, pretty blondes, is terrorising the city by disposing of prostitutes by strangling them and dumping the bodies all over the city. The twist in TIGHTROPE is that the killer is also dogging the footsteps of kinky cop Detective Wes Block (Eastwood), a lonely divorcée with two young children. Block eases off the shackles of a tough day job by frequenting the very same sleazy dives that his thoroughly unpleasant nemesis does.
A predictable game of cat and mouse ensues, but the film's stock film noir origins are transcended by Eastwood's continual playing with his own star status and by a very interesting exploration of his character's private obsessions and genuinely touching relationship with his two young daughters. Special mention here for real-life daughter Alison Eastwood, quite superb as the older and more perceptive girl, who clearly suspects her troubled father is up to more than just "looking for something" on his late night travels through New Orleans's seamier districts.
The more conventional opening section of TIGHTROPE is distinctly misleading, largely because about half way through, the film's most interesting character (played by the truly excellent GENEVIEVE BUJOLD) comes much more to the fore. As the feisty and fiercely intelligent Rape Crisis Center head Beryl Thibodeaux (nice use of Bujold's French-Canadian heritage here for a movie set in New Orleans!) Bujold's sharp dialogue exchanges with ultra macho Detective Wes Block-Clint Eastwood are a constant joy, and, of course, edge us deeper into film noir territory as Block's kinky sexual practise and failed marriage become the focus of the investigation.
Tuggle does a generally excellent job of keeping the material visually interesting, although he pays less attention to the minor characters, wasting a great character actor like Dan Hedaya for the role of Block's sidekick on the investigation. Overall though, this is an underrated film in the Eastwood canon and worthy of your attention. It's a slick genre piece with a surprising ability to probe the areas of Eastwood's star persona not normally explored in the Dirty Harry series.
Clint Eastwood is a truly amazing man. More then just a mere actor, he has become one of our national icons. Even President Reagan quoted his famous line "make my day". In Tightrope, Eastwood really went out and took a chance playing a cop, but not like Dirty Harry. A movie critic who reviewed the film commented that Eastwood had really grown as an actor and that maybe we should call him Redwood! Wes Block is a troubled single father who is really human with human frailties. He is drawn into a seamy murder investigation, but in doing so it is like he is looking into the dark tormented mirror of his own troubled soul. Every time a prostitute is murdered, it seems like it is one that he was just with. Watching this troubling film, there were more then a few occasions that I wondered if Clint was going to be revealed as the true killer in the end! It was a chilling thought to me watching this portrayal of a cop on the edge and wondering what would happen to push him over. Clint was finally nominated for an Academy award for best actor for Unforgiven, but this to me is one of the best "acting" jobs that he ever did. His real life daughter Allison plays his daughter in this movie and does a fine job, just like his son Kyle did in Honkeytonk Man. Genevieve Bujold gives a wonderful performance as the rape counselor that he falls for. She is a wonderful actress and more then holds her own. She was in my favorite Disney film The Last Flight Of Noah's Ark. Eastwood usually directs himself on screen, but in this case Richard Tuggle (who worked with Clint in Escape From Alcatraz) does a commendable job with the direction and the screenplay. The most disturbing part is where Eastwood tears a room apart in a fit of rage when he realizes what he has become. In a sense, he is no better then the pervert he hunts. Its like the dream scene where he is attacking the woman he loves. The ending of the film is like Dirty Harry where he finally gets the bad guy, I guess they cop out in the end, but Eastwood showed a lot of daring and guts when he took on this challenging role and he really rose to the occasion in my view. However, I would rather see him as Dirty Harry or No Name.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wes Block (Clint Eastwood) is a New Orleans Homicide detective who's
investigating a series of sex murders involving prostitutes and the
further he delves into this seedy world. He finds out his own impulses
are just like that of the killer's. This is when the killer starts to
play around with Wes and he starts to believe he is his own chief
suspect in these murders.
Totally different territory for Eastwood in this very slow and sordidly, dark thriller. It's maybe nothing new (and been repeated quite a bit) in its genre, but because of first-rate performances and it being sinisterly edgy. For me it lifts the film above the rest. Or maybe it's just my Eastwood fan-boy nature kicking in? Anyhow, this lowlife thriller is (extremely) HIGH on atmosphere, with it having an overwhelming sense of glum and intrusion. This is because most of the picture takes place during the nightlife, amongst the sleazy locations of New Orleans with indistinct lighting and prowling figures hanging around in the shadows. There's a great eye for detail in capturing the seedy lifestyle, with a lot of sexual desire, tension and gratuitous nudity flowing. Where our protagonist becomes attached to this lifestyle to compensate for his loneliness and heartache for companionship. This is because the more he gets close to the killer, the more he slowly learns they have much in common and the sleazy ways start to get the better of him. It sounds like we've been down this road before, with the cop getting closer to the killer, who's stalking and playing around with the detective. But hold on, what made the difference was the rough, raw and biting dialogue and the appealing characters were fleshed out rather nicely. Well, maybe with the exception of the killer. A lot of the story's focus, is more on Eastwood's character spending time with his daughters or fighting his lustful temptations. While, the killer uses that to his advantage, rather than actually delving into the killer's psyche, which I actually wanted to learn more about.
The cast are at the top of their game. Eastwood plays a laid back detective / dag of a dad. He brings to his character a man that's fighting the two different traits of his life. Eastwood portrays this insecure character superbly that you truly care for him and feel his pain and effort to be a perfect father figure to his two girls after the divorce. Genevieve Bujold is excellent as a crisis counsellor Beryl Thibodeaux. There are strong support roles from the likes of Dan Hedaya, Alison Eastwood and Jenny Beck also.
Story wise; some holes show up in the plot and it kind of falls by the wayside towards the end, but the excitement levels don't. At least the cracking finale was incredibly well-staged. For most part, it's incredibly taut and it never drifts away from being sombrely downbeat, well maybe with a couple exceptions involving family (with clichéd) moments, but saying that, it also had some of those moments that made you squirm in your seat. It's not-so graphic or hard-hitting in showing the killer's actions, which it could've been and probably gain more if so. It kind of stuck to just showing us the aftermath, with one murder investigation after another. But the material and the striking performances had some disquieting effect on me, even if it did feel like it was copping out and became your standard fare during the second half of the film. Unsettling moments occurred, but again nothing that graphically shocking. Backing it all up is a tantalising score that buzzes with such urgency and tensity. Also helping the mood is a jazz soundtrack that oozes with exoticism. Cinematography was well-arranged and its skewed and gliding angles went in hand-to-hand with the ill-natured style, though there was a lot shots focusing on the characters shoes.
Starts off, good enough, but you could say it probably does goes on for too long and head into familiar territory. It doesn't reach any great heights, but hey, I kept on watching and I was rather entertained. So, it did its job. In my opinion it's an above average, on the edge thriller, despite it's formulaic plot.
I truly consider Tightrope to be by far one of Eastwood's best acting
performances. He definitely DID deserve, that year, at least an Oscar
nomination for Best Actor. And don't be mistaken, Wes Block has nothing
to do with Dirty Harry ... true, these two cops both have their "dark
side" -an aspect that Eastwood has learned to exploit in a number of
his pictures, BUT Wes Block appears to be much more "human" than Harry.
This single father is struggling with his own demons, persuaded that
until now he has screwed up about everything in his life, beginning
with his marriage ... he's trying real hard to be a good father, as
well as a good cop, that is until this killer comes along and threatens
all he's been fighting for to preserve.
Here we get to know a guy who's extremely vulnerable, hurt, un-self confident, haunted and whose relationship with women remains ambiguous, based on control, kind of as if he was afraid of them, of what they could do to him, seeing them as a threat ... hence his resort to the services of prostitutes and his use of handcuffs on them.
As usual in Eastwood's movies, we wanna know what's underneath this front his characters put on ... -like in Pale Rider, Josey Wales, The Bridges of Madison County ... the silences, the puzzling, haunting, deep looks, that tell us far more about a character than any word would. "Less is more" is definitely a guideline of this movie. Most of the time, Eastwood's characters reveal themselves through their silences, and it's particularly true here.
I believe there's a line in Tightrope that sums up pretty accurately what Eastwood's movies are really about: "I'm not sure how close I wanna get ..." They're about very private men struggling with life.
This movie is simply one of his best.
Inner darkness is out of control in this thriller set in New Orleans. A veteran cop(Clint Eastwood)is put in peril when evidence links him to the serial murders he is investigating. Genevieve Bujold co-stars. Twelve year old Alison Eastwood plays one of the cop's two daughters, and surprisingly holds her own. This shady thriller is worth your time. The pace is a little slow, but very intense. Some pretty cool sets and mellow jazz. Don't get too relaxed.
TIGHTROPE is a decent, though not entirely flawless, dramatic thriller.
Clint stars as a hard-nosed detective (does he play any other kind?)
trying to figure out who's behind a string of murders in New Orleans.
But these aren't just any murders, as the female victims were all part
of the wonderful world of kinky sex. Our hero's mean squint gets even
squintier when it becomes obvious the women are being targeted because
of their kinky relations with him.
Released in 1984, TIGHTROPE was a reasonable success in terms of revenue and critical acclaim. Maybe you just had to see it when it first came out, because watching it today, it seems like a fairly formulaic cop thriller. That doesn't mean it's bad; far from it. It's reasonably paced, not entirely predictable and nicely buffered with some cute (sometimes hilarious) father-daughter moments (Clint's real-life offspring, Alison, plays one of his two girls). Add an extra star if you're a fan of the big C.
TightRope is a very accurate name for this picture, the most
interesting aspect of which is Eastwood's attempts to balance his
duties as a responsible and loving father with his taste for deviant
sex. This latter he shares with the serial killer he is pursuing. The
killer has a penchant for strangling his victims with ribbons which I
guess is another meaning for "tight rope".
Eastwood's character is very well fleshed out and his desire to provide a safe and normal home life for his daughters and later to establish a relationship with a rape defence adviser he is attracted to, is very believable. While this is happening, he is drawn deeper and deeper into the dark world of bondage and sado-masochism and there is for a long time some doubt as to which way he will fall and even that he may know more about the killings than he admits.
All this is very compellingly handled.
Unfortunately the villain is straight out of central casting. A one-dimensional cardboard cut-out who the film makers attempt to give some mystery to by having him wear masks. Yawn. Unlike Eastwood, this villain is poorly drawn and apart from an uncharacteristic appearance at the start, is completely silent. He just swans around in the shadows a-la the phantom of the opera and has little of the sense of personality even of Scorpio in Dirty Harry.
There is no real reason why he should be masked, actually, since he is an undistinguished looking character, and stalking around with an assortment of facial coverings is more likely to draw attention to himself if anything. One must believe that this oddly disguised person can enter and leave buildings (such as brothels - highly security conscious in the real world) without anyone noticing. Or perhaps he goes in unmasked and whips out his disguise later? Who knows? If the latter, why bother with the disguise at all? It certainly has not been thought out and is a very cheap attempt to create a sense of intrigue and danger.
Its a pity because the constant appearance of this silly villain actually detracts from the menace and darkness of this film. Without him, there would be real doubt as to whether Eastwood was really the killer himself, for instance. I do not think I give anything away in saying this, since the clunking villain is seen stalking Eastwood from quite early on, hovering behind him or looking in the skylight, so much so that you feel like shouting "He's behind you!" in a pantomime sort of way.
Other details do not ring true, such as Eastwood telling a young male hooker to go to a warehouse to be paid by the killer then going there himself to find (surprise! Surprise!) the hooker hanging by his neck. Cheap and unrealistic writing like this add to the schlock horror feel.
All this leads to a routine and unnecessarily gory finale. However, a touching moment with his girlfriend shows that the film makers do understand subtlety.
Of all of Clint Eastwood's performances, this is probably my favourite. In
this part, Eastwood gives his character enormous depth and vulnerability,
and touches on the insecurities and weaknesses that drive an otherwise
normal man into sexual deviance. All of this he does in the guise of one of
his most well-worn characters -- a police detective out after a psychopathic
killer. Unlike the "Dirty Harry" pictures or "The Gauntlet", in which
Eastwood only suggested the existence of human weakness, here that weakness
is interwoven with the plot (in which the psychopath knows and manipulates
the detective's weakness for deviant sex), heightening the tension.
What makes the film all the more impressive is that it doesn't dwell exclusively on the deviant side of Eastwood's personality. That would be the easy way out. Instead, it counterbalances that aspect of his character with some nice family moments, making sure to let the audience know (and convincingly at that) that this is a man who truly does have more than one side to him.
The acting from the supporting players is fine, although most of them (namely, Genevieve Bujold and Dan Hedaya) are given little to do. Perhaps the most surprising discovery from the film is the performance of Eastwood's daughter Alison, who gives an exceptional performance as the detective's daughter, who senses something is not quite right with her father, but loves him just the same.
The film is not without flaws -- Tuggle's script skips a couple of grooves in the plausibility category (namely, when certain characters have to be killed off), and there are a few gaps in the script. All told, however, Tuggle's direction is strong, using dimly lit sets for more than just noirish effect, and building up to a very strong finale. Moreover, his scriptwriting flaws can be excused because of the strong and full character he creates.
This is a film in which Eastwood creates a character not unlike that in his superb performance in "In the Line of Fire." All the same, it is a performance that in a weaker Oscar year might have been worthy of an Oscar nomination.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Even Eastwood can't save this one. Yet another killer-who-knows-everything-and-is-everywhere-at-all-times thriller. This time we are supposed to believe it because the killer was a cop. So...? Doesn't mean that he has to be incredibly clever and know all the tricks in the book, now does it? At times I had a feeling I was watching a De Palma film - and that is the ultimate insult I can give to a thriller; coincidences, all-knowing criminal, etc. Now why did the criminal not kill Eastwood's older daughter (or both) when he had the chance? Once he was out of jail why didn't he start with killing Eastwood instead of those prostitutes (after all, it turned out that Eastwood had arrested him years before)? How did the killer manage to find a shovel on a grave yard, while Eastwood was chasing him? Are we supposed to believe that shovels simply lie around on graveyards just like that? "Okay, boys, digging's finished... Damn, I'm tired; think I'll just leave my shovel lying around here so that perverts have easier access to the corpses, not to mention so that chased criminals can use it in self-defense against tough cops...". Certainly not as bad as de Palma's most notorious thrillers, but it should have been a lot better.
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