lethalpanther’s review published on Letterboxd:
Apart from the film itself, the trailer is pure gold: Norman Mailer appears in the trailer himself, talking about how the critics torn his film apart and accusing them of never having read a good book.
The film itself is just insane, specially because of its outrageous dialogue. Apart from the famous "OH MAN OH GOD", there are tons of lines in there that are hard to believe. Early in the film, the leading character's dad, accuses his wife of "turning him into a cocksucker". Later on, there's another priceless scene:
- I gave you 16 orgasms in one night.
- None of them was good.
- Thats because you got no womb
Ryan O Neil ("The Driver") is a competent lead, and does not overact in a film where the rest of the cast deliver horribe, over the top performances. The actor who plays his father is really good as well. There's also Isabella Rosellini in this, adding some prestige to this bizarre little film.
The story, which mostly consists of flashbacks, is a mess. It is actually enjoyable, altough near the end it gets a bit hard to tell what the fuck is going on. Somebody here wrote "Tough Guys Don't Dance" is the film David Lynch would make if he was retarded.
Francis Coppola was an executive producer here, and Zoetrope Studios (his own producing company) appears to have co-produced this with Cannon Films. I wonder what pooor francis thought when he first saw this- if he ever did.
The cinematography is actually pretty good and atmospheric at places, something you rarely see in a Cannon production. It is one of their rare attemps at "serious" filmmaking. Cannon may be known mostly for their Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson films but it appears they also had artistic ambitions: they financed John Cassavetes' last picture, Konchalovsky's masterpiece "Runaway Train", even a Jean Luc Godard film starring Normal Mailer, the maker of this one.
This could be described as an exploitation film with artistic ambitions, or perhaps it is a misunderstood piece of gold. Not sure how many stars it deserves but "Tough Guys Don't Dance" is an interesting watch, and it's also great fun- at least until the point where you still understand what the fuck goes on.