Tightrope (1984)

R | 114 mins | Drama | 17 August 1984

Director:

Richard Tuggle

Writer:

Richard Tuggle

Cinematographer:

Bruce Surtees

Editor:

Joel Cox

Production Designer:

Edward Carfagno

Production Companies:

Warner Bros. Pictures , Malpaso Productions
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HISTORY

Tightrope represented the directorial debut of writer Richard Tuggle. He had previously written Escape from Alcatraz (1979, see entry) for Clint Eastwood. According to an interview with Tuggle in the 17 Aug 1984 LAHExam, he wrote Tightrope "on spec" for Eastwood, but was doubtful whether the actor would consider portraying a character involved in “kinky” sex. Tuggle sold the screenplay on condition he would also direct. Although Tuggle is credited as director, film critic David Denby mentioned in an 8 Mar 2010 New Yorker article that Eastwood reportedly took over directorial duties after finding Tuggle “too slow or indecisive.”
       Tuggle clarified in a 29 Jul 1988 LAWeekly editorial that, contrary to rumor, he and Eastwood never considered adapting Tightrope as a “Dirty Harry” film, referring to the series of pictures starring Eastwood that includes Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), and The Dead Pool (1988, see entries). However in the LAHExam interview, Tuggle characterized the lead role of “Wes Block” as a lewd version of the “Dirty Harry” character.
       Clint Eastwood’s own daughter, Alison Eastwood, appears in the role of his onscreen daughter, “Amanda Block.”
       The 12 Dec 1983 DV reported that principal photography began on 17 Oct 1983 and was completed on 3 Dec 1983. Filming took place entirely on location in New Orleans, LA. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the story was originally set in San Francisco, CA, but the filmmakers adapted the script ... More Less

Tightrope represented the directorial debut of writer Richard Tuggle. He had previously written Escape from Alcatraz (1979, see entry) for Clint Eastwood. According to an interview with Tuggle in the 17 Aug 1984 LAHExam, he wrote Tightrope "on spec" for Eastwood, but was doubtful whether the actor would consider portraying a character involved in “kinky” sex. Tuggle sold the screenplay on condition he would also direct. Although Tuggle is credited as director, film critic David Denby mentioned in an 8 Mar 2010 New Yorker article that Eastwood reportedly took over directorial duties after finding Tuggle “too slow or indecisive.”
       Tuggle clarified in a 29 Jul 1988 LAWeekly editorial that, contrary to rumor, he and Eastwood never considered adapting Tightrope as a “Dirty Harry” film, referring to the series of pictures starring Eastwood that includes Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), and The Dead Pool (1988, see entries). However in the LAHExam interview, Tuggle characterized the lead role of “Wes Block” as a lewd version of the “Dirty Harry” character.
       Clint Eastwood’s own daughter, Alison Eastwood, appears in the role of his onscreen daughter, “Amanda Block.”
       The 12 Dec 1983 DV reported that principal photography began on 17 Oct 1983 and was completed on 3 Dec 1983. Filming took place entirely on location in New Orleans, LA. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the story was originally set in San Francisco, CA, but the filmmakers adapted the script setting to New Orleans to offer a contrast from previous Eastwood productions. Many of the scenes were shot in the historic French Quarter, which was undergoing renovation for the 1984 World’s Fair.
       As stated in the 15 Aug 1984 Var review, the world premiere was held 16 Aug 1984, as the opening night selection of the World Film Festival in Montreal, Canada. The following day, the film was released on approximately 1,535 screens, according to the Oct 1984 Box review.
       A 22 Aug 1984 Warner Bros. press release announced that the picture earned $9.1 million in its debut weekend, and $20.9 million after ten days in wide release, which set a new ten-day record for an Eastwood film. The opening weekend gross in New York City, almost $1.5 million, also marked the best box-office performance, thus far, for an Eastwood film in that city. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Oct 1984.
---
Daily Variety
12 Dec 1983.
---
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1984.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1984
p. 4.
LA Weekly
29 Jul 1988.
---
LAHExam
17 Aug 1984
p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1984
Section G, p. 1, 7.
New York
27 Aug 1984
p. 112.
New York Times
17 Aug 1984
p. 6.
New Yorker
8 Mar 2010.
---
Newsweek
27 Aug 1984
p. 68.
Variety
15 Aug 1984
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Malpaso Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
2d unit cam op
2d unit cam asst
2d unit cam asst
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Leadman
Stand-by painter
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
Main and end title themes performed by
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd mixer
Boom man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting exec
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Unit pub
Prod secy
Auditor
Asst to the prods
Titles and opticals
Animal handler
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
[Col by]
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 August 1984
Premiere Information:
World premiere at World Film Festival in Montreal, Canada: 16 August 1984
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 August 1984
Production Date:
17 October--3 December 1983
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 October 1984
Copyright Number:
PA228001
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27395
SYNOPSIS

In New Orleans, Louisiana, Melanie Silber leaves a party late at night and is followed by a man wearing sneakers. She is relieved when she encounters a policeman who offers to keep an eye on her as she enters her apartment. However, the officer is wearing the same sort of shoes as the stalker. Detective and divorced father, Wes Block, is unable to say “no” to his two young daughters, Amanda and Penny, and allows them to bring home another stray dog. Later, the devoted father must cancel an outing with them when he is summoned to the crime scene where Melanie Silber was raped and strangled. The evidence is similar to the recent murder of another woman, Yvonne Larkin. Beryl Thibodeaux, who runs the Rape Prevention Center, is aware that the two murders might be connected, and meets with Wes Block, but he refuses to discuss the investigation. At home, Wes says goodbye to his daughters as they reluctantly leave to spend time with their mother, who has visitation rights. That night, Wes questions a prostitute who reportedly worked with Melanie Silber performing group sex acts. She removes Wes’s necktie and entices him to have sex. The killer watches as the detective leaves the brothel. When Wes arrives at the crime scene of a third victim, Jamie Cory, he recognizes her as another sex worker with whom he had a one-night stand. Outside the police station, Wes tells the media that the murders appear to be linked by unusual sexual activity on the part of the victims. After Beryl Thibodeaux complains to the mayor about ... +


In New Orleans, Louisiana, Melanie Silber leaves a party late at night and is followed by a man wearing sneakers. She is relieved when she encounters a policeman who offers to keep an eye on her as she enters her apartment. However, the officer is wearing the same sort of shoes as the stalker. Detective and divorced father, Wes Block, is unable to say “no” to his two young daughters, Amanda and Penny, and allows them to bring home another stray dog. Later, the devoted father must cancel an outing with them when he is summoned to the crime scene where Melanie Silber was raped and strangled. The evidence is similar to the recent murder of another woman, Yvonne Larkin. Beryl Thibodeaux, who runs the Rape Prevention Center, is aware that the two murders might be connected, and meets with Wes Block, but he refuses to discuss the investigation. At home, Wes says goodbye to his daughters as they reluctantly leave to spend time with their mother, who has visitation rights. That night, Wes questions a prostitute who reportedly worked with Melanie Silber performing group sex acts. She removes Wes’s necktie and entices him to have sex. The killer watches as the detective leaves the brothel. When Wes arrives at the crime scene of a third victim, Jamie Cory, he recognizes her as another sex worker with whom he had a one-night stand. Outside the police station, Wes tells the media that the murders appear to be linked by unusual sexual activity on the part of the victims. After Beryl Thibodeaux complains to the mayor about the police investigation, Wes visits her at the Rape Prevention Center and shares a few details of the case. While questioning women at a sex club, one of them, Judy Harper, seduces Wes. The killer watches the encounter through a grating above the room. Later, Wes recognizes Harper when her body is discovered on a river embankment. Giving the impression he wants to discuss the case, Wes invites Beryl Thibodeaux to dinner, but as they sit down, he admits an interest in her. Although Beryl finds Wes’s approach somewhat crude, she remains intrigued with him. At the police station, Wes receives a homemade doll from the killer with a note attached, “Another one will soon be dead. You could stop it if you knew what was ahead,” and the name of a sex club called Sam’s. There, a dominatrix gives Wes further instructions to go to a “gay bar” called Praline’s, with a ribbon attached to his lapel. At the bar, a young man wearing the same sort of ribbon tells Wes he has been hired by an anonymous individual to have sex with him and collect his money afterward at the warehouse across the street. Declining the offer, Wes tells the man to go ahead and collect his payment. Shortly afterward, Wes searches the warehouse and finds the gay man from Praline’s murdered. Later, Becky Jacklin, another prostitute who had a one-night stand with Wes, is murdered, and her body is left in a city fountain. The killer also drapes Wes’s necktie, which he left behind at the brothel, around one of the fountain’s marble statues. Beryl Thibodeaux joins Wes and his children for a Mardi Gras celebration, while the killer, dressed in a costume, observes them. Wes confesses to Beryl that his habit of spending time with prostitutes and other sex workers began after his wife left him. A money trail leads Wes and his partner, Detective Molinari, to the Dixie Brewery, which might explain the glass fragments and barley residue found at the crime scenes and on the doll. Wearing a welding mask, the killer spots Wes walking through the facility. Wes tells the manager he wants to search brewery medical files to identify workers with the same blood type as the killer. Later that night, Wes arrives home to find his older daughter Amanda bound and gagged on the bed, and the babysitter, Mrs. Holstein, murdered. The killer confronts Wes and tries to strangle him, until one of the dogs attacks, giving Wes a chance to grab his gun. The detective shoots, but the killer escapes. Amanda is taken to the hospital, while Penny stays with Beryl. After attending to his daughters, Wes returns to his empty house and ransacks his bedroom in a rage. A newspaper clipping reminds Wes of former policeman Leander Rolfe, whom Wes arrested for raping two teenage girls. When Molinari confirms that Rolfe was recently released from prison and works for the brewery, Wes stakes out the killer’s apartment with his partner. Meanwhile, Rolfe goes to Beryl’s home, murders the policemen watching her house, and cuts the telephone line. As soon as Wes realizes the killer’s next move, he speeds to Beryl’s. He arrives in time to save her and chases the killer through a cemetery and a railway yard. The two wrestle next to a moving freight train as Wes rips off Rolfe’s mask. They roll into the path of an oncoming train and Wes dodges the locomotive, while Rolfe is crushed to death. Beryl arrives on the scene and leads Wes away in an embrace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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