Movie of the Week: ‘The Gauntlet’

“The Gauntlet” (1977) – “Never saw a cop feeling sorry for himself before.  Mind if I watch.” – Augustina Mally (Sandra Locke)

Sandwiched between Dirty Harry’s third and fourth movies, Eastwood plays Ben Shockley, an invisible Phoenix Police officer in “The Gauntlet”.  Despite several years on the force, Ben hasn’t broken a big case yet, and he longs for a wife and kids.  Unfortunately, he’s been married to alcoholism for far too long.

On a beautiful Downtown Phoenix morning, his commanding officer (William Prince) hands him a routine assignment to transport a witness (Locke) from Las Vegas to the Valley of the Sun.  Still, Ben’s trip is anything but ordinary. 

Clint – who also directs this road trip movie – doesn’t let Ben fire many rounds over the 109-minute runtime, but he probably spent about 80 percent of his budget on bullets.  The story includes two wild, over-the-top shootouts that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Charles Bronson blush. 

While Augustina and Ben travel on several winding roads, his coarse language and actions – at times – aren’t super-palatable in the year 2020.  Our hero, however, softens a bit, when he’s not complaining about her grievances by lightly uttering, “Nag, nag, nag.”  Hey, it was 1977.

⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Written by: Michael Butler and Dennis Shryack

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sandra Locke, William Prince, and Pat Hingle

Rated: R

Runtime: 109 minutes

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