Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tough Guys Don't Dance1987

Tough Guys Don't Dance (1987)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Tough Guys Don't Dance Photos

Movie Info

Norman Mailer wrote and directed this demented film noir, which takes place in a Provincetown of perpetual twilight. Most of the tale, based on his best-selling novel, is told in flashback as Dougy Madden (Lawrence Tierney) pays a visit to his son Tim (Ryan O'Neal). Dougy, a tough ex-bartender, is ravaged by cancer and decides to see Tim one last time in order. But Tim is suffering both from writer's block and from the effects of too many years of drink, drugs, and sex. His sexy wife Patty Lariene (Debra Sandlund) has recently left him and disappeared. Even worse, one morning he awakens from his stupor to find the front seat of his car covered with blood and a severed head inside his drug stash. He tries to rekindle a relationship with his ex-wife Madeleine (Isabella Rossellini), now married to the psychotic Provincetown police chief, Alvin Luther Regency (Wings Hauser), and he re-acquaints himself with old prep school friend Wardley Meeks III (John Bedford Lloyd), who was also married to the missing Patty Lareine. As the murders pile up and Tim's psyche takes a beating, Dougy decides to help Tim put an end to this chaotic mess of murders.


Ryan O'Neal
as Tim Madden
Isabella Rossellini
as Madeleine Regency
Debra Sandlund
as Patty Lareine
Wings Hauser
as Regency
John Bedford Lloyd
as Wardley Meeks III
Lawrence Tierney
as Dougy Madden
Penn Jillette
as Big Stoop
Frances Fisher
as Jessica Pond
R. Patrick Sullivan
as Lonny Pangborn
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Critic Reviews for Tough Guys Don't Dance

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (5)

Neither thrilling nor horrific, the camera, plotting, dialogue and atmosphere are uniformly unconvincing: a conservatoire of false notes.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

Not the high point of the Mailer career, but it's a small, entertaining part of it.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3/5

Hard to classify; at times you laugh raucously at what's up on the screen; at others you stare dumbly, in stunned amazement.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

What is strange is that Tough Guys Don't Dance leaves me with such vivid memories of its times and places, its feelings and weathers, and yet leaves me so completely indifferent to its plot. Watching the film, I laughed a good deal.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Norman Mailer's best film, adapted from his worst novel, shows a surprising amount of cinematic savvy and style.

January 1, 2000

...for bad movie fans, it's a masterpiece of over-ripe dialogue, ridiculously melodramatic situations, and rabid, macho posturing that curdles the moment it hits the screen...

March 24, 2021 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

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