“Tightrope” (1984)

7It’s quite hard to reconcile the somewhat beige, Oscar-magnet, hit-the-golf-course-by-five Clint Eastwood of “Invictus,” “Hereafter,” “Changeling” and “American Sniper” with the guy who could only a few decades earlier appear in a film like Richard Tuggle’s “Tightrope.” A surprisingly racy police procedural/character study, this film functions as if Dirty Harry was played by Michael Fassbender’s character from “Shame.” Eastwood plays New Orleans detective Wes Block, who is tracking a rapist/murderer preying on sex workers, the twist being that Block’s own sexual proclivities aren’t all that far from the killer’s own, complete with mild bondage. Though this film contains the lowest quantity of BDSM-themed content on this list, it’s fascinating if only for being a mainstream genre picture that saw one of Hollywood’s biggest, most respected stars engaging in some less-than-vanilla fucking and taking advantage of witnesses and prostitutes in the process. Yet the most interesting element of the film is that Eastwood gives his character a broken center: he forms a burgeoning relationship with feminist self-defense class leader Genevieve Bujold, who gradually exposes his damaged core and teaches him to actually respect and trust women. Sure, it’s a bit judge-y and questionably coded in places (not least when Clint enters a “Cruising”-esque gay bar, though it’s diffused somewhat by a semi-jokey suggestion of his bisexuaity), but it’s still a fascinating curio in Eastwood’s career.

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