Now all Phoenix Detective, Ben Shockley (Clint Eastwood), has to do, is go to Las Vegas, pick up some hooker called Mally (Sondra Locke) from custody, and then bring this fiend back to Phoenix, so she can give evidence in a Mob trail.
Simple – right? That's why Commissioner Blakelock (William Prince) gave him this simple assignment to begin with. Plus why his partner, Maynard Josephson (Pat Hingle), asks him to dinner for the following day.
Nope - they're both wrong. Because once Ben goes to Las Vegas, he starts to discover that things are not what they appear to be.
For a start, Mally is a woman prostitute who has dubious ties to some dubious underworld factions. Next, Ben figures out that there is a ‘book’ running which insinuates he will not be able to complete his assignment. And finally, when Ben and Mally are in transit, their vehicle is shot at by both police officers plus a couple of assailants in a nondescript vehicle.
So what can Ben do now? Take Mally to her shack, and calls Commissioner Blakelock to tell him about the situation that he is in? Yes - he does that. But in so doing, some more police officer arrive and shoot up the place, just before they escape.
OK then, so what about if they try to accost a stray cop (Bill McKinney), and then force him to call Commissioner Blakelock, and set up a another rendezvous with the Phoenix boarder patrol once they are out of town? Yes - they do that too. But again, guess what happens? Correct - BOOM-BANG-A-BANG!
Listen, I am sure that you can start to see a pattern emerging here, and so does Mally too. And thankfully she gets Ben to see the light also, thus guiding them both by foot, by bike, and by train, from one side of Phoenix to another.
Still, I suppose that is why what next transpires is a right run of the Gauntlet I can tell you. As buses are primed - plans are timed - shot are chimed - and justice is a tower that is eventually climbed.
I have watched 'The Gauntlet' quite a few times now, and in my opinion, it is not what I would call the best ‘Clint Eastwood movie’ I have ever seen. However, upon closer inspection, I have come to realize that I was right in some ways, whilst wrongs in a lot of others.
You see, this film is sort of an amalgamation of many other Clint Eastwood films that came after this, almost as if this flick were a precursor in concepts. For example: (1) There is the pretext of 'Pink Cadallac' in the story. (2) Then there is the evolving blue print of Clint’s 'maverick cop' figure in the character. (3) On top of that, there is also the lonely man aspect from 'In the Line of Fire' and 'Unforgiven'. And (4) Finally, there is the one man against the position of corrupt power from 'Absolute Power'.
Oh! And I best not forget, I can even see the Sondra Locke transitional cold to warm arc from 'Bronco Billy' too. (Click on link for relevant review)
Still, does any of this make ‘The Gauntlet’ a good film? Well, a bit hit and miss really.
HIT: What worked for me, were those scenes that where used as character pieces. The first scene that I can mention which does this very well, was the discourse between the Sondra Locke and the Bill McKinney characters in the car. It was biting, revealing, and quite provocative too. Then there was the penultimate scene between Clint and Sandra in the hotel room – as it gave a lot of back-story and depth, and did it did it in a very nice and quiet way to boot.
MISS: I found some of the action scenes kind of top heavy, with the amount of gunshots deployed within scenes quite excessive at times – especially at Mally’s shack, and at the end as well.
Plus, let’s not forget about the secondary characters’, huh? As William was a great malevolent villain for the film, and Pat – even though only in a few scenes – did a great job as Clint’s ally.
Oh! While I am on the subject of Pat and Clint, did you know that is was rumored that they were both going to be cast in a seventies Batman movie together? Granted, this was only a rumor that floated around at the time – I picked it up from an old ‘From the Den’ letter column from Detective Comic. Clint was supposed to be Batman, and Pat, like in the Tim Burton movie, was supposed to be Commissioner Gordon.
Still, enough about rumor, what about this film? Well, it’s well worth the watch for any Clint Eastwood fans out there, and you do get to see Sondra Locke’s tits too. Moreover, on a personal note, I found that – if anything – it has improved with age – just like Clint has.
THE RATING: B