Sunday, February 6, 2022

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Movie Name:
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
Year of Release: 1974
Director: Michael Cimino
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, George Kennedy, Geoffrey Lewis, Catherine Bach, Gary Busey, Jack Dodson, Burton Gilliam, Roy Jenson, Claudia Lennear, Bill McKinney, Vic Tayback
Genre: Crime, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Writer, producer and director Michael Cimino, had a brief and both memorable and infamous career, one that was forever derailed by the well known "Heaven's Gate". However, he started his career as a screenwriter, with one os his early projects being Ted Post's "Magnum Force", where he had an opportunity to work with Clint Eastwood. His first directorial effort came shortly afterwards, an original script of his, starring and produced by Eastwood, the well received "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot". The film follows the story of Thunderbolt, whom we initially encounter preaching in a small church in the middle of nowhere. He soon as to make his exit, as a shooter appears and starts gunning him down. As he flees the scene, an unexpected help comes in the shape of a young man, himself escaping from his latest small time crookery. These two form a friendship, which is further solidified when two other men come chasing and shooting at them. Thunderbolt admits to having been involved in a big robbery a few years back, of which the spoils never got divided, with some of the remaining people involved in the caper thinking he is the one who has it all. As they eventually manage to clarify the story with their chasers, Lighfoot has the idea of performing another heist, and this time around dividing the proceeds. Lightfoot's demeanor and Leary's personality however clash most of the time, and as the date of the heist approaches everyone gets increasingly more on edge. 
"Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" is a film that smartly combines the more free flowing aspects of the culture of the 70s, with a style that resembles the 1950s, which is to a certain extent, perfectly embodied by George Kennedy's character. There's certain aspects that are reminiscent of Terrence Malick's "Badlands", particularly as the characters drive around on what seemingly seems to be an empty America, filled with nothing but some small towns, but this film goes in a different direction, allowing for the relationship between Clint Eastwood's Thunderbolt and Jeff Bridges' Lightfoot to take center stage, and develop progressively. And that's one of the most interesting aspects of the film, precisely the fact that Michael Cimino allows for these characters to slowly reveal themselves, even as they get involved in this heist scenario, one that adds an extra layer of thrill to their ongoing adventures. The whole caper/heist aspect of the film also feels very organically placed and never topples it or steals attention from the characters themselves. The film benefits tremendously from the chemistry between Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges, both of which are fantastic (and Bridges is truly phenomenal in his role), with more than apt support from George Kennedy and the always underrated Geoffrey Lewis. The cinematography from Frank Stanley is solid, as is the score from Dee Barton. A very entertaining film from a talented film maker.