The Gauntlet is a 1977 action film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. The film also stars Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney, and longtime personal friend Mara Corday who would appear with Eastwood in another three films.
Ben Shockley (Clint Eastwood
), a cop from Phoenix, is well on his way to becoming a down-and-out when he is given the task to escort witness Gus Mally (Sondra Locke
) from Las Vegas
. Mally soon reveals herself to be a belligerent prostitute with mob ties and is in possession of incriminating information concerning a high figure in society. Shockley's suspicions are confirmed when the transport vehicle is bombed and Mally's house is fired upon. The two are forced to face the truth and discover their own inner strengths as they fight their way to Phoenix (from witnessing the murder of a constable in his patrol car, motorcycle gangs, and snipers in a helicopter) finally using an armored bus to run a gauntlet of hundreds of police armed with high-powered weaponry.
References to political corruption and organized crime were depicted in the film. Although a moderate hit with the viewing public, critics were mixed about the film. Eastwood's long time nemesis Pauline Kael called it "a tale varnished with foul language and garnished with violence". Roger Ebert, on the other hand, gave it three stars and called it "...classic Clint Eastwood: fast, furious, and funny." The Gauntlet is currently rated 83% ("fresh") on movie review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.
- Frank Frazetta painted the super-stylized promotional billboard poster for the movie.
- Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand were originally cast; however, in-fighting between the two forced McQueen to drop out of the project. Clint Eastwood took over production, later replacing Streisand with Sondra Locke, as well as using his own production crew.
- The constable's patrol car is a 1973 Ford Torino during the road scenes; when the constable meets his demise, the car switches to a Gran Torino.
- The 'armored' bus with all its tires exposed, travels through a hail of bullets without even one of its tires being shot until the very last moment.
- The helicopter used is an Aerospatiale Gazelle.
- The Jerry Fielding soundtrack music for the climactic gauntlet sequence is an almost identical copy of the "Solea" track (#5) from the Miles Davis/Gil Evans landmark jazz album "Sketches of Spain."