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TIGHTROPE (director/writer: Richard Tuggle; cinematographer: Bruce Surtees; editor: Joel Cox; music: Lennie Niehaus; cast: Clint Eastwood (Wes Block), Genevieve Bujold (Beryl Thibodeaux), Dan Hedaya (Det. Molinari), Alison Eastwood (Amanda Block), Jennifer Beck (Penny Block), Marco St John (Leander Rolfe); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Clint Eastwood, Fritz Manes; Warner; 1984)
A sharp-edged slightly offbeat crime thriller for the masses.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A sharp-edged slightly offbeat crime thriller for the masses. It has the iconic tough guy Clint Eastwood playing a flawed but honest New Orleans homicide detective hunting down a masked serial killer of prostitutes at the red light district in the French Quarter. The embittered divorced Detective Wes Block (Clint Eastwood), who partners with Detective Molinari (Dan Hedaya), is honorably raising two young daughters (Jennifer Beck & Alison Eastwood) after his wife deserted the family. Of note, Alison is Clint’s real 12-year-old daughter.

Beryl Thibodeaux (Genevieve Bujold) works at the city’s rape-prevention center and eagerly signs on to help catch the brutal rapist/killer.

First-time helmer Richard Tuggle (“Out of Bounds”) is writer-director, who shades this crime story darker and kinkier than Clint’s usual fare, but doesn’t forget how well the “Dirty Harry” formula works for him.

The title is derived from how Clint is attracted to the slain prostitutes and must learn to keep his wild sexual impulses in check, as his attitude toward women, the same as the rapist, makes him a suspect.

It entertains, but remains an exploitation film stuck on a superficial psychological level. It never gets to what Clint is all about, except reassuring us that our hero is a decent guy who is appealing as a hard-boiled hunk but would profit by learning how to curb the same appetites he shares with the crazed killer (Marco St John).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”