Gauntlet, The: Directed by and Starring Clint Eastwood

The Gauntlet, directed by Clint Eastwood, is a police drama in which Eastwood the star departed from his “Dirty Harry” character.

Eastwood was apparently intrigued by the challenging, offbeat role of a tough and cynical cop, who is also drunk, incompetent, and a bit of a washout. Nonetheless, defying realism, “The Gauntlet” perpetuated Eastwood’s own fiction–once again playing a huge force that sets things straight in a corrupt world.

The story is about Eastwood’s rigors, when he attempts to return a hooker (Sondra Locke) from Las Vegas to Phoenix to testify at a mob trial. Of course, the mob tries to prevent them from completing their trip. William Prince plays Blakelock, the mob’s highly placed contact within the Phoenix Police Department. The movie contains escapes in ambulances, gunfights in speeding automobiles, a helicopter attack, and a ride on a stolen motorcycle.

In the climax, Eastwood and Locke hijack a bus and surround the driver’s seat with pig iron as protection against armed attacks. In an effort to prevent him, Blakelock orders the streets cleared, then places a thousand patrolmen in downtown Phoenix. As the bus rumbles into town, the police unleash an endless barrage of gunfire. Incredibly, the bus moves steadily onward, finally coming to a crashing halt on the steps of City Hall.

Eastwood’s last action role of the decade, it is of particular interest to his fans, because it gives him one of the rare monologues of his career. Seeing Eastwood deliver a long soliloquy about his life with nostalgia and sorrow is something to behold. Despite the absurd plot and implausible ending, “The Gauntlet” was a big commercial success, proving that, when it comes to Eastwood, audiences were willing to suspend disbelief.