The Gauntlet

THE GAUNTLET is about as subtle as running one, with Clint Eastwood starring in & directing an off-putting action fest featuring his then-girlfriend (1975-89) Sondra Locke, in her second of six pictures they made together. She’s good, character actor Bill McKinney (Clint used him seven times after they worked together in Thunderbolt And Lightfoot) adds his weird relish to a small role, and there are several wildly over-the-top action sequences. But the tone throughout is vicious, the characters universally unlikable and the violence is absurd overkill. Movie has more gunshots than the Battle of the Bulge.

Hardcase, boozing detective ‘Ben Shockley’ (Eastwood) is assigned to escort witness ‘Gus Mally’ from jail in Las Vegas to trial in Phoenix. “Gus” turns out to be ‘Augustina’ (Locke), a hooker who not only has as lousy an attitude as Shockley, she’s certain there’s a hit out on her. She’s proven right when repeated attempts are made (by swarms of police) to blast her (and whoever she’s with) to atoms. Captor and captive abuse each other, verbally and physically, in between escapes, a run-in with a biker gang is included for the brutal hell of it and ammo is expended in volumes sufficient to bring on continental drift.

Fantasy artist Frank Frazetta painted the over-the-top poster used in the successful ad campaign. A good chunk of the $5,500,000 tab went to the elaborate, ridiculous action scenes and their countless thousands of squib charges. Hey, I appreciate Warner Brothers booming shotgun noises as much as the next Wild Buncher, but this is a fusillade too far. The box office take of $38,900,000 placed 18th in 1977.

109 minutes of meaningless mean, with Pat Hingle, William Prince, Jeff Morris, Dan Vadis, Roy Jenson, Mara Corday.


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