Watch Tough Guys Don't Dance
- 1 hr 50 min
Tough Guys Donât Dance is a 1987 neo-noir mystery film directed by Norman Mailer and based on his novel of the same title. The movie is set in the small town of Provincetown on Cape Cod, and it follows the story of Tim Madden (Ryan O'Neal), a washed-up writer with a severe case of writerâs block, a drinking problem, and no memory of the night before. He wakes up with a bloody shirt, a large sum of money, and a cryptic note that reads, âYouâll never find me.â His estranged wife Patty (Isabella Rossellini) returns to town, and Tim becomes embroiled in a web of deceit, betrayal, and murder.
The film opens with Tim sitting on a beach, drinking heavily and smoking. He wanders into a bar and picks up a woman named Madeleine (Debra Stipe) whom he believes is a prostitute. They consume more alcohol and indulge in some cocaine, and Tim wakes up the next morning with no memory of what happened. Madeleine is gone, and he discovers that heâs been cut and is bleeding profusely. He tries to retrace his steps and figure out what happened, but heâs interrupted by a knock at the door â itâs Patty, his ex-wife, who he hasnât seen in years.
Patty is bitter and resentful towards Tim, and she demands to know why he never visited her in California. She reveals that sheâs in town to sell their old house, but Tim is more interested in figuring out what happened the night before. He finds a note in his pocket that says, âYouâll never find me,â but he has no idea who wrote it or what it means. As he tries to piece together his memories, he discovers that Madeleine was not a prostitute but a woman he knew from high school. He also finds out that the large sum of money in his pocket belongs to a notorious drug kingpin named Horatio the Hair (Wings Hauser), and that several people in town are after it.
As Tim delves deeper into the mystery, he discovers that his past is catching up with him. He was involved in a hit-and-run accident years ago that killed a young girl, and her mother (Frances Fisher) is seeking revenge. Heâs also being blackmailed by a local real estate mogul (John Bedford Lloyd) who has evidence of him having an affair with his maid.
Tough Guys Donât Dance is a complex and multi-layered film that blends elements of noir, comedy, and melodrama. Itâs not an easy film to follow, but it rewards the viewer who sticks with it. The characters are all flawed and damaged, and theyâre played with relish by the excellent cast. Ryan OâNeal gives a career-best performance as Tim, a man whoâs drowning in his own self-pity and guilt. Isabella Rossellini is outstanding as Patty, a woman whoâs been hurt by Timâs neglect but still loves him. Debra Stipe is a standout as Madeleine, a woman whoâs not quite what she seems.
Mailerâs direction is stylish and assured, with plenty of long, tracking shots and moody lighting. The film has a distinctive look thatâs both beautiful and ugly, capturing the seedy underbelly of small-town life. The score by Angelo Badalamenti is haunting and atmospheric, adding to the filmâs dreamlike quality.
Overall, Tough Guys Donât Dance is a challenging but rewarding film that rewards multiple viewings. Itâs not for everyone, but for those who appreciate a good mystery and a complex, morally ambiguous story, itâs well worth seeking out.
Tough Guys Don't Dance is a 1987 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.9.