The Gauntlet (1977)

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Ben Shockley (Clint Eastwood) is given the apparently mundane task of escorting a prostitute by the name of Gus Mally (Sondra Locke) from Las Vegas to Phoenix so that she can testify in a mob trial. However standing in their way are a horde of mob enforcers, bikers and dirty cops who don’t want them to make it.

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If Mally testifies then a lot of dirty cops stand to be sent down. Shockley thinks it’s odd that he be tasked with escorting Mally. Only later realising it’s because his superiors don’t think he’s that good a cop, and he’s not on the mob payroll either. Shockley first senses something’s  up when he sees a horse, or what he thinks is a horse on a betting shop board called ‘Mally No Show’, who’s odds are increasing every hour. It’s then up to Shockley to protect Mally, even though they may end up killing each other before anyone else does. With no help from his own people, the odds are stacked against Shockley and Mally. But little do his superiors know, betting against Shockley from doing his job is asking for trouble.

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The action is incredible. There are some fantastic chase scenes and the climax is breathtaking stuff. Clint Eastwood used to cast Sondra Locke in a lot of his movies as they were husband and wife at the time. However I did notice an alarming pattern. In the majority of the films that Eastwood cast Locke, her character is sexually assaulted. Very disturbing. Kind of makes you think of what sort of toxic relationship they had in reality.

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There are some witty lines in the script and Eastwood is basically channelling Harry Callahan in his role as Ben Shockley. I do recommend this. I’m a sucker for gritty 70’s action anyway and this doesn’t disappoint. If you have never seen it then seriously give it a go.

4/5

JM

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