Tightrope [1984]

The screenwriter of Escape from Alcatraz, Richard Tuggle, sold a second script to Clint Eastwood on the condition that he be allowed to direct it. The result is a near classic, a grim psycho-thriller set in New Orleans, which remains one of the star's boldest attempts to undercut his unshakable rock-bound image. It was interpreted by some critics as an exercise in self-exploration, although that might be stretching it. Still, as a cop whose own kinky yearnings are pulled to the surface as he investigates a series of stalker murders of women, Eastwood often seems tormented by self-doubt, and that was a new flavor for him. The French-Canadian actress Geneviève Bujold plays the seductive Cajun shrink who helps Clint get in touch with his dark side. The great thing is that the movie works as pure suspense, despite its larger ambitions. Tuggle made sure that the crime-solving elements and the psychological explorations fit smoothly together: the twist is that in order to be able to anticipate the sicko's actions, the cop has to learn to share his feelings, and finds the transition a little too easy to negotiate. --David Chute

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