The Gauntlet

The Gauntlet Information

The Gauntlet is a 1977 American action film directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Eastwood and Sondra Locke. The film's supporting cast includes Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney, and Mara Corday. Eastwood plays a down-and-out cop who falls in love with a prostitute (Locke) whom he is assigned to escort from Las Vegas to Phoenix in order for her to testify against the mob.


Ben Shockley, an alcoholic 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 from Las Vegas. Mally protests that they are both set up to be killed in a hit, which a jaded Shockley doubts. 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. Her suspicions are confirmed when the transport vehicle is bombed and Mally's house is fired upon. Shockley and Mally are then pursued across the open country with no official assistance and with the police force regarding them as fugitives. They eventually run into a gang of bikers whom Shockley threatens with his gun sending them on their way, steals one of their choppers and takes off on it with Mally.

The two ride into a town where Shockley and Mally are ambushed by a helicopter filled with cops sent by corrupt Commissioner Blakelock who pursue the two away from the town and onto the open road, firing at them from above. During the high-speed pursuit, the helicopter accidentally crashes and explodes and the two then ditch the chopper and hop on a train on which, ironically, the same two bikers whose chopper they just stole are riding. The bikers attack and assault Shockley and later attempt to rape Mally, whom they pin to the floor but the wounded Shockley soon grabs hold of his gun and subdues the bikers, roughly knocking the two bikers and their girlfriend off the train.

The two then prepare to enter the gauntlet of armed police officers that corrupt Police Commissioner Blakelock has set up to stop Shockley and Mally from entering Phoenix. The two hijack a bus and are about to enter town when Maynard Josephson, an old friend of Shockley's, warns the two of the gauntlet Blakelock has set up for them. While stepping out of the bus to discuss the terms, Josephson is shot dead by shooters from a nearby building and Shockley is hit in the leg. Now with no other option, the two enter the town and are shot at until the bus can no longer move. The two surrender and Shockley is shot and wounded by Blakelock who in return is shot dead by Mally. Shockley and Mally walk away safely from the gauntlet of cops.


  • Clint Eastwood as Detective Ben Shockley
  • Sondra Locke as Augustina "Gus" Mally
  • Pat Hingle as Maynard Josephson
  • William Prince as Commissioner Blakelock
  • Bill McKinney as Constable
  • Michael Cavanaugh as Feyderspiel
  • Carole Cook as Waitress
  • Mara Corday as Jail Matron
  • Doug McGrath as Bookie
  • Jeff Morris as Desk Sergeant
  • Roy Jenson as Biker
  • Dan Vadis as Biker


Written by Dennis Shryack and Michal Butler, Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand were originally cast as the film's stars. However, fighting between the two forced them to drop out of the project; Eastwood and Locke replaced them. The Gauntlet was filmed in Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as in nearby deserts in both states. For the house scene, it was built at a cost of $250,000 and included 7,000 drilled holes that would include explosive squibs for its demolition. The helicopter chase scene included a helicopter that was built without an engine for the crash sequence. To simulate the gunshots from the gauntlet of officers at the end of the film, the bus was blasted with 8,000 squibs. From the total budget of $5.5 million, $1 million was spent on the various action sequences.


Frank Frazetta painted the super-stylized promotional billboard poster for the film. The poster features a "muscled colossus Eastwood, brandishing a pistol, and scantily clad Locke, her clothes teasingly shredded, clinging onto her hero".


Box office

The Gauntlet grossed $35.4 million at the box office, making it the 14th highest-grossing film of 1977.

Critical response

Although a hit with the public, the critics were mixed about the film.

Judith Crist of the New York Post wrote that the film was "a mindless compendium of stale plot and stereotyped characters 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". David Ansen of Newsweek wrote, "You don't believe a minute of it, but at the end of the quest, it's hard not to chuckle and cheer".

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 82% based on 17 reviews.

See also

  • List of American films of 1977

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