One of the great things about being a life-long film fanatic is the fine art of the revisit. A 20-year-gap between film viewings allows for a heck of a lot of life experience that can permit you to see a film and its themes on a whole new level (hello, Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER ). It can also allow for you to look at something with “adult eyes” and think, “How the hell did my parents let me see that as a kid?” The poster boy for such an experience seems to be the sleazy Clint Eastwood cop thriller TIGHTROPE, which opened thirty years ago today on August 17, 1984.
This past spring a TIGHTROPE resurgence sprung up between my video watching friends. Perhaps we unconsciously knew the thirtieth anniversary was soon upon us, but a collective revisit was upon us and we all came back with the same reaction – “what…the…hell!?” I missed this one in theaters (my parents had taken me to see SUDDEN IMPACT ) and I’m eternally thankful for that. Watching the opening of BASIC INSTINCT (1992) with my dad theatrically was hard…er, uncomfortable enough when I was seventeen. I couldn’t imagine Eastwood’s film about a serial killer stalking the sex professionals used by a kinky cop would have gone over when I was ten. It would have been as awkward as when Eastwood’s onscreen daughter asks him the line of dialogue that opens this write up.
Is this outtake from the TIGHTROPE
poster shoot telling us something?
Regardless of family and sexual politics, audiences were still looking for that Eastwood fix and were receptive to the film. It opened in first place that weekend with a haul of $9,156,545 from 1,535 screens. It easily beat back that weekend’s new competition as THE WOMAN IN RED, SHEENA, and DREAMSCAPE all didn’t crack the top five. Despite its sleazier tone, TIGHTROPE stayed in the top spot for a month and eventually earned a domestic total of $48,143,579. That is almost $2 million more than Eastwood’s FIREFOX (1982) from a few years previous, showing audiences preferred watching Eastwood screwing than being screwed by Eastwood.