January 14, 1985 12:00 PM

Having established in Tightrope that he can work up some serious dramatic acting, Clint Eastwood shows he can play for laughs, too. Going palsy-walsy with Burt Reynolds as a cop and private eye in Kansas City in 1933, he winks, shrugs and scowls menacingly through a send-up of old gangster movies. Directed by Richard (My Favorite Year) Benjamin, this is an easygoing film. It’s almost too good-natured, relying on fistfights and gun battles as if they were funny in themselves. But Eastwood and Reynolds, trading wisecracks like Hope and Crosby, are relentlessly affable. A happy change of pace is seeing light performances by such usually serious actors as Rip Torn (who plays a sneering mobster), Jane Alexander (as the stereotypical private eye’s secretary) and Tony Lo Bianco (as Tom’s archenemy). Madeline Kahn does her typical superbimbo number to good effect, and Irene (Fame) Cara gets to sing—her rendition of Embraceable You is touching. The plot, which has to do with a chase for some incriminating documents, is peripheral. It’s the we’re-all-here-to-have-a-good-time mood that counts, and few films these days offer such guilt-free enjoyment. (PG)

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