“Tightrope” (1984) dir. Richard Tuggle

One of Clint Eastwood’s best and most underrated films, “Tightrope” is less interesting as a thriller (even though it’s a very good one) and more interesting as a character study. The lead character played by Eastwood, a New Orleans detective named Wes Block, who drowns his sorrows over his wife leaving him, by frequenting prostitutes and engaging in sado-masochistic behavior. He’s also looking for a serial killer / rapist whose victims are women that Wes has had some involvement with. There’s even some hints that Wes may in fact be in the killer in question.

Assisting Wes in his investigation is a rape counselor named Beryl, played by Genevieve Bujold, who gets him to confront the hows and whys of his behavior in a mature, non-confrontational way. A key scene that explains his character comes when Beryl asks Wes about his job and his ex-wife. She asks him how dealing with sex crimes in his job affected his private life. He answers that it made him want to treat his wife more tenderly. “How did she respond?” Beryl asks. Wes sadly replies, “She said she wasn’t interested in tenderness.” A quietly devastating moment from a great film.

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