Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Post-Noir (Modern Noir), Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 18, 1987 (USA)  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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The problem with Norman Mailer scripts is that Mailer usually directs them. Tough Guys Don't Dance has its pleasures, but it's about as indulgent and uneven as a part-time or amateur director can make it. Mailer clearly enjoys himself, and some of that comes across, but the quality of the performances within it veer wildly, from Ryan O'Neal's jittery Tim Madden to legendary Lawrence Tierney's powerful turn as Dougy Madden. The movie lurches about because Mailer never quite finds the darkly seriocomic tone required by the script, which he wrote from his own novel. O'Neal alternately struggles or succeeds from scene to scene. Isabella Rossellini has the beauty and regality but not much of the inner fire of her character's Italian princess. With his size and power, over-actor Wings Hauser is well cast as a loony police chief, Alvin Luther Regency, and Tierney has a showpiece role and some of the best lines as O'Neal's father. Because Mailer wrote it, the movie has some great dialogue and some fascinating bits, but ultimately, Tough Guys Don't Dance is an overcooked soufflé that explodes in the oven.