4.8/10
984
29 user 22 critic

Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987)

Writer, ex-con and 40-something bottle-baby Tim Madden, who is prone to black-outs, awakens from a two-week bender to discover a pool of blood in his car, a blond woman's severed head in ... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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1 win & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Tim Madden
...
Madeleine Regency
...
Patty Lareine (as Debra Sandlund)
...
Capt. Alvin Luther Regency
...
Wardley Meeks III
...
Dougy Madden
...
Big Stoop
...
Jessica Pond
R. Patrick Sullivan ...
Lonnie Pangborn
...
Spider
...
Stoodie
...
Bolo
Kathryn Sanders ...
Beth
Ira Lewis ...
Merwyn Finney
...
Lawyer
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Storyline

Writer, ex-con and 40-something bottle-baby Tim Madden, who is prone to black-outs, awakens from a two-week bender to discover a pool of blood in his car, a blond woman's severed head in his marijuana stash, and the new Provincetown police chief, Captain Luther Regency, shacked up with his former girlfriend Madeleine. As his father Dougy helps him try to unravel the mystery, he is dogged by the psychotic Capt. Regency, who has it in for Tim as a car-crash that he was involved in with Madeline has left her unable to have children. Flashing-back to the past, Tim remembers the time when he encouraged Madeline to swing with a Li'l Abnerish couple from down South, the fundamentalist preacher Big Stoop and his Daisy Mae-ish wife, Patty Lareine, whose ad Tim had come across in 'Screw' magazine. It's on the trip back that the car crash occurs, since Madeline is incensed that Tim has so enjoyed Patty Lareine's charms. Except for his father Dougy, who is dying of cancer, Tim suspects everyone, ... Written by Jon C. Hopwood

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

head | gay | writer | police chief | cancer | See All (44) »

Taglines:

A love story shadowed by murder. A comedy laced with horror. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 September 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Marca do Passado  »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$858,250 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(TVC)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was screened out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987. See more »

Quotes

Wardley Meeks III: I am all wrong for this kind of imbroglio!
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in The Cinema Snob: Ax 'Em (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

You'll Come Back (You Always Do)
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Lyrics by Norman Mailer and Angelo Badalamenti
Sung by Mel Tillis
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User Reviews

 
simultaneously funny and haunting neo-noir
3 September 2003 | by (los angeles, ca.) – See all my reviews

There are a lot of people who really hate this movie. Then strangely they go on and on detailing the things that bother them about it but that they also find fascinating and relentlessly hypnotic.

It's unfortunate that people are so rigid in their definition of what makes a 'good' movie.

Norman Mailer is by no means a terrible director. He actually does a very credible and commendable job of adapting his own novel to the screen. The dialogue is at times overblown and purplish, but it is never boring and frequently it's downright brilliant.

Every performer acquits themselves well, even Debra Sandlund as Patty Laureine, Wings Hauser as the sociopathic macho police chief and John Bedford Lloyd as the eccentric, messed-up millionaire, all of whom can be accused of overacting. But ultimately their performances are completely in tune with their insane characters and draw us into a nasty labyrinth of twisted emotions and nightmarish memories. Ryan O'Neal actually gives one of his finest performances as an alcoholic loser who has messed up his life and who is so prone to blackouts, he's not even sure if he's killed someone. Lawrence Tierney is excellent as his tough guy dad who helps him make sense of the chaos in their small-shut-up-for-the-winter-and-consequently-spooky-as-hell Provincetown coastal neighborhood. Isabella Rossellini is also great in what appears to be an, at first impression, thankless role, but who in fact turns out to be the character who gets the last word and the best revenge.

The great thing about this film is it manages to have its cake and eat it, too. It's not only an at times very creepy modern film noir, it's also a frequently hilarious black comedy. Also, contrary to some people's perceptions, the film has a complex narrative structure that pulls the viewer in, much like the best mysteries. If you go in not expecting a conventional mystery thriller but more of a cross between David Lynch, Roman Polanski, Jules Feiffer, Hal Ashby and maybe Arthur Penn(when he directed NIGHT MOVES), I guarantee you you will not be disappointed.


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