Thunder Road is something of a disappointment, but one that's not without interest. Practically creating a whole genre and with it laying the groundwork for Burt Reynolds' career, it stars Robert Mitchum as a moonshine runner facing the wrath of both the Revenuers and a crime syndicate trying to muscle in on the Good Ole Boys trade. Both moonshiners and revenuers have codes of honour and believe, not without justification, that they're both representatives of the American way: there's no real malice between them, more a balance of nature approach that is threatened on both sides by Jacques Aubuchon's mobster. Despite the setup and the car chases along mountain roads, the film is surprisingly low-key - even the great title song gets an incredibly laid back rendition that's nowhere near as much fun as Mitchum's record version - yet at times its weaknesses almost seem strengths. Mitchum's interest in independent productions at the height of his career resulted in a few films that were distinctly rough around the edges, and at times this borders on the amateurish, filmed on real locations with poor acoustics and variable performances and feeling more like an authentic drive-in movie aimed at them thrill-crazy kids complete with Hillbilly rock soundtrack than the fatalistic noirs that made his reputation. Yet it's hard to dislike even if it doesn't quite live up to its potential.
The DVD transfer is variable - acceptable but with a few scenes that look even more rough and ready than probably intended. Although the US DVD includes a theatrical trailer, there are no extras on the PAL disc.