Tightrope is directed by Richard Tuggle and Clint Eastwood, Tuggle writes the screenplay. It stars Eastwood, Genevieve Bujold, Dan Hedaya, Alison Eastwood and Rod Masterson. Music is by Lennie Niehaus and cinematography by Bruce Surtees.
New Orleans and Detective Wes Block is plunged into a hunt for a rapist serial killer that brings out his own deviant peccadilloes.
One of Eastwood’s best movies also happens to be one of his most under appreciated, the actor challenging himself to explore a darker characterisation than the iconographic ones he was most famed for. Wes Block is a damaged man, a divorced father of two girls, who he adores but they are uncomfortably at arms length due to his work. He’s afraid of affection, to be touched in a gentle manner by a member of the opposite sex, preferring to indulge in seamy sex by way of prostitutes who frequent the dark abodes of Orleans’ French Quarter.
If you knew what’s ahead…
Enter the doppelganger effect, as a mysterious serial killer is at large murdering the ladies of the night that Wes takes his pleasure with, the guilt factor hanging heavy on his haunted shoulders. As Wes tries to bring down the killer, he is battling to realign his mindset about the female sex, his daughters and also Beryl Thibodeaux (Bujold), the latter the rape counsellor who was once his sparring adversary, but is now a potential lover if Wes can put everything back on an even keel.
Tuggle, Eastwood and Surtees bring plenty of film noir touches to their picture. Surtees’ photography is strong in colour but dark in shading, perfectly embodying the seamy side of The Big Easy. Between them, actor and director fill out this fascinating tale with classic noirish scenes. A Mardi Gras warehouse is eerie, as is a chase through a cemetery, then there’s clowns and balloons, things that are associated with childish fun but so often in noirville carry a sinister edge. The sleazy dives that Wes frequents are foreboding places of sin, more so when the killer is stalking his prey. While a railroad location is used to great effect as well.
It has some problems, Hedaya is wasted and the Wes and Beryl relationship is telegraphed a mile away. While the formula of such movies inevitably means the culmination of tale is no surprise, but the journey is a dark and interesting one and Tightrope is a damn fine movie. 8/10
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