Tightrope (1984) - Plot Summary Poster



Showing all 5 items
Jump to:


  • New Orleans single dad and cop Wes Block goes after a serial rapist-killer but when he gets too close to the target the hunter suddenly becomes the hunted.

  • Wes Block is a detective who's put on the case of a serial killer whose victims are young and pretty women, that he rapes and murders. The killings are getting personal when the killer chooses victims who are acquaintances of Block. Even his daughters are threatened.

  • Divorced Wes Block is a New Orleans homicide detective who has custody of his two adolescent daughters, Amanda and Penny. Father and daughters have a special bond with each other. Wes' latest case is investigating a series of murders, all the victims who are known or initially unknown sex trade workers and who were sexually assaulted before being strangled. At each of the crime scenes is fiber from a red ribbon, which is believed to be the murder weapon. Because of the sexual nature of the murders and the belief that it is a serial killer at work, rape services counselor Beryl Thibodeaux insinuates herself into the investigation. After a rocky professional start between the two, Wes and Beryl begin a personal relationship. As Wes gets deeper into the investigation and as more victims surface, Wes knows that the murderer is following his every move, especially as some of the victims are those with whom Wes has had contact, sometimes intimate contact. As the murderer begins to taunt Wes, Wes fears for Amanda, Penny and Beryl's safety. As such, solving the case becomes more of a personal vendetta for Wes, as the crimes themselves seem to be a personal vendetta against Wes.

  • A New Orleans detective is leading an investigation into a killer who is raping and murdering women. His enquiries lead him into the seedy side of town where he is no stranger off-duty. All this contrasts with his home life as a single parent with two young girls. Then on the case he meets rape counselor Beryl Thibodeaux with whom a relationship possibly offering some normalcy starts to develop.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film opens with a young woman, Melanie Silber (Jamie Rose), walking home late one night in New Orleans down a deserted street. A sound startles her and she drops her packages. A man approaches her. She relaxes when she sees he is wearing a police uniform. He watches her enter her house, then the camera pans down and we see the man isn't wearing regulation police boots, but sneakers.

    The next day Silber's body is found naked across her bed. She has been raped and strangled. It looks like one in a series of murders so it is passed to a task force headed by Detective Wes Block (Clint Eastwood). Block is recovering from a recent divorce and is trying to put his life back together while caring for his two daughters: 11 year-old Amanda (Alison Eastwood) and 9 year-old Penny (Jenny Beck).

    Block's partner, Det. Molinari (Dan Hedaya) notes that while the girl was apparently attacked at about 9:15PM, she wasnt killed until after mid-night and wonders about the delay. Block notes that the killer left a half-eaten brownie and an empty coffee cup and comments that the killer was taking his time because he was enjoying what he was doing to the victim.

    The lab reports that the killer wore sneakers and left traces of barley and tiny glass fragments behind. His blood type is "O." Marks on her wrists suggest that the Silber was handcuffed.

    Back at the office Block's boss, (Bill Holliday) is annoyed at him for the lack of progress on these cases. Block is also being pursued by rape prevention worker Beryl Thibodeaux (Geneviève Bujold) who wants to talk to him about the case. She finally catches up with him, but he doesn't want to divulge any information to her that might compromise the investigation. She tells him they should put up posters warning women of the danger, but Block states that would only terrify the city's female population. Thibodeaux replies that given the circumstances, maybe they should be terrified.

    The victim was prostitute and Block goes to interview a Sarita (Regina Richardson) a woman Silber sometimes partnered with. Sarita tells Block that the Silber had a client who was into handcuffs, but she doesnt know his name. When the interview is finished she slips off Block's tie. Block playfully wraps it around her neck as she prepares to make love to him orally. When Block finally leaves he forgets his tie.

    The next development in the case occurs when prostitute Jamie Cory (Randi Brooks) goes to meet a client at a rented room with a hot tub. The next day her strangled body is found in the bottom of the tub. Block notices a recent tattoo with the words "Looking for Love" and a red heart. He tracks down the tattoo artist and interviews him while the man works on a new tattoo on the inner thigh of a pretty young blond named Becky Jacklin (Rebecca Perle). Sucking on a popsicle, she flirts with Block while the artist is out of the room.

    The artist denies knowing anything about the murder, so that night Block visits a seedy nightclub where Cory occasionally worked as a bikini-clad baby-oil wrestler. The referee (Donald Barber) greets Block and recommends he talk to the blond currently on the mat if he wants more information about Cory. Block is surprised when he sees that the girl is Jacklin.

    When she is done work they go back to her apartment where he interviews Jacklin about Cory. She tells him that she knows Cory had a client that liked to use handcuffs on her. She thinks he was a cop and coos, "Maybe it was you?" Later we see Block and Jacklin laying together on the bed after making love. As the camera pans up their naked bodies we see that Jacklin is attached to the head of the bed with Block's handcuffs. Later as they leave the apartment Jacklin tosses away one of her ever present popsicle sticks. We see it picked up by the man wearing sneakers.

    The next day Amanda is making breakfast. Before her father comes into the room, her curiosity temps her to open an envelope he was carrying. Inside she finds explicit photos of the murdered women. She stuffs the pictures back inside before he can see what she has done. During breakfast she asks her father why he stays out late every night. He replies he is working on solving the murders and that there are some people he can only talk to at night, because they work at night.

    Block has a change of heart and visits Thibodeaux at the Rape Prevention Center. He gives her some details about the suspect so she can disseminate it to potential victims.

    When Block gets home that night he can see that Amanda and Penny are upset. Their mother has called to tell them she is getting remarried. Later Block leaves them in the care of a babysitter, Mrs. Holstein (Margie O'Dair) and decides to checkout a seedy bathhouse were people go for anonymous relations. He shows Cory's picture to one woman there, Judy Harper (Margaret Howell). She does not recognize the victim, but invites Block into the room and they have make love. Block does not realize it, but the killer has been trailing him and sees the two of them together.

    Late that night Amanda leaves her room and finds her father is back home on the sofa. He has drunk himself to sleep holding a wedding picture of himself and his ex-wife. Amanda climbs up on top of Block, tenderly puts her arms around him and falls asleep.

    The next morning a woman's strangled body is found in the river. When Block arrives at the scene he is shocked to find it is Harper.

    Block goes by Thibodeaux's gym and sees her there. They talk about the case and he then asks her out to lunch. It is clear a relationship is starting to develop.

    A fetish doll with an attached riddle arrives at police headquarters. Block thinks it is from the killer. The message also had an invitation for him to visit "Sams." Sams is an club where the killer has arranged for Block to have a S&M session with a girl (Rebecca Clemons). She hands him a whip. He asks what it is for and she replies, "To use on me." Block declines the invitation and she gives him a black rose telling him that she does not know the name of the man who paid her, but her instructions were to send Block on to a local gay bar.

    At the bar Block meets a gay prostitute (Robert Harvey) wearing a similar black rose. Block declines his services and sends him across the street to a warehouse where he was supposed to meet the man who was paying him. Block follows hoping to catch the killer, but when he arrives he finds the prostitute strangled and hanging from one of the mardi gras floats housed there.

    Back at headquarters Block solves the riddle and discovers one of Jacklin's broken popsicle sticks inside the doll. Meanwhile she has been kidnapped and her roommate discovers her missing. Soon after Jacklin is found strangled, lying in a fountain. Nearby the tie Block left behind is found around one of the fountain's statues.

    Disturbed, Block calls Thibodeaux. Together they take Block's daughters out in costume to a street celebration. As the girls watch some street performers, Block talks with Thibodeaux about the case and his misgivings about the direction of his life. Penny buys a balloon from a clown/balloon vender and the camera pans down to show us he is wearing the killer's sneakers. The balloon he gives her is tied with the same type of red ribbon he used to strangle the women, perhaps as a threat to Block, but Penny accidently let's the balloon go and it drifts off before the detective can see it.

    That night after the girls go to bed, Thibodeaux asks if Block likes to use handcuffs on his dates because is scared of strong women. He admits this may be true. Thibodeaux offers to let him use them on her, but he decides not to and they go to bed. That night he has a dream of Thibodeaux being attacked by a man wearing a ski mask. When the mask is pulled off, Block's face is underneath. He wakes up in a cold sweat.

    The next day the lab finds the same barley and glass traces found in Silber's apartment on some of the money paid to Cory. Since the serial numbers can be traced to cash sent to the payroll office of "Dixie Brewery" it seems likely that the killer works there. Block and Molinari pay the president of the Brewery (Don Lutenbacher) a visit. He informs them that there are over 1,000 men working at the Brewery. Block suggests the try to eliminate some of the possibilities based on schedule and blood type.

    While Block did not see the killer at the Brewery, the killer saw him. That night when Block gets home from work he finds the house in disarray and the babysitter missing. Rushing to the girls' room he finds Penny there, but Amanda gone. He instructs Penny to hide in the closet until he comes back. When she opens the door one of the household dogs who was sleeping in there jumps out.

    Block finds Amanda lying deadly still on his own bed. Fearing the worst he turns her over. She is alive, but has been handcuffed and gagged. Not even taking the time to remove the cuffs, he carries her back to the girls' closet to hide with Penny, then starts searching the house. He finds all the household dogs (except the one Penny let loose) killed. Mrs. Holstein has also been murdered and stuffed in the dryer. The killer sneaks up on Block and tires to strangle him, but Block is saved when the last dog alive attacks the killer, distracting him.

    In the closet the girls quake with fear as they hear two gunshots. A minute later the door opens and they see a figure with a red ribbon dangling from one hand, as if prepared to strangle them. When the figure bends down, however, they see that it is their father and they jump into his arms.

    The police arrive, but the killer has escaped. Amanda only has minor injuries, but is taken to the hospital for observation.

    The next day Block notices a clipping from a former case: a cop who raped two teenagers. Acting on a hunch he asks Molinari to check to see if the perpetrator, Leander Rolfe (Marco St. John) might work at Dixie. Not only does Rolfe work at Dixie, but he got out of prison just before the first murder occurred. He also has a beef with Block since Block originally arrested him more than a decade ago. That night Block and Molinari stake out Rolfe's apartment.

    Penny is safe as she is staying overnight with Amanda at the hospital, but Block arranges for protection for Thibodeaux: two policemen outside her house and one in the living room. When Block can't get them on the radio, however, he races over to her house. The cops are dead and he arrives just in time to prevent Thibodeaux from being strangled by the killer, Rolfe.

    Block chases Rolfe through a cemetery while the rest of the police force try to catch up with them. The chase then moves to a railroad yard where Block and Rolfe play cat and mouse among the moving trains. They finally wind up wrestling lying across a track as a freight train approaches. Block rolls off the track at the last second and finds his throat still gripped by Rolfe's hand, which has been severed at the arm from the rest of his body by the train's wheels.

    The rest of the force arrives and starts to look for Rolfe's body which was apparently dragged away by the train. Meanwhile Block starts walking up the tracks to where a police car pulls up and Thibodeaux jumps out. They embrace and the picture ends.

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed