The Gauntlet (1977)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Chase Movie, Police Detective Film  |   Release Date - Dec 21, 1977 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 109 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Keith Phipps

In addition to working well as an Eastwood actioner, The Gauntlet should probably serve as ground zero for any study of his films' attitude toward women. Eastwood's hard-living, success-starved cop begins the film as an unrepentant sexist, but after being saddled with an antagonist/love interest Sondra Locke, who more than holds her own against him, he leaves the film with an adjusted attitude. That Locke plays a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails, world-weary prostitute only makes his progress that much more curious. It's these sort of difficult to disentangle, seemingly contradictory politics that make even Eastwood's least ambitious films -- of which Gauntlet is certainly one -- rewarding viewing. This attitude toward women in particular has caused him to be reviled as a sexist and lauded as a feminist; whichever way you choose to look at it, The Gauntlet makes for gripping, if familiar, viewing. Eastwood's character's gutter integrity may be imported from the Dirty Harry series, but his deliberately paced direction -- in addition to matching the open spaces of his Southwestern setting -- allows him to explore the details of the persona to a greater extent in a film that's as interesting as much for what's in its margins as for what happens in center stage.