on 7 November 2003
Having been an Eastwood fan for many years, I was overjoyed to see this film finally released on DVD. It is without doubt one of his greatest films, although Jeff Bridges steals the show, and received an Oscar nomination - in his first appearance!
The story is of the friendship between two very different characters, the old and seasoned veteran Eastwood, and the wild and irresponsable Bridges, who meet while Eastwood is escaping assasination by an old friend of Eastwood's, George Kennedy. Eventually they all get together to take on Montana Armoured Bank, with mixed results.
There's nothing new in the story or plot of this film, and admittedly it looks a little dated now, but the filmwork is outstanding, and Bridges shines. Coupled with a little action and a tragic ending, this film is truely wonderful!
Clint Eastwood' and 'Jeff Bridges' are among my favourite actors, the film is also
among my favourites.
Thunderbolt' (Clint Eastwood) an experienced Robber. is running away from his
old partners, who seven years before were part of a $500,000 robbery, trouble
is 'Red' and 'Goody' want their share, 'Thunderbold' and a now deceased accomplice
had hidden the haul in an old school behind the blackboard.
'Lightfoot' (Jeff Bridges) is a wannabe villain, not really in the same league as his new
best friend, the two kinda run into each other moments into the film.
Well, 'Lightfoot' gets an early introduction into 'Thunderbolt's' world as bullets start flying
in their direction.
The pursuers 'Red Leary' (George Kennedy) and 'Eddie Goody' (Geoffrey Lewis) do
catch up with our heroes.......after a sequence of fisty-cuffs and threats, 'Thunderbolt'
informs his former partners that where the money had been hid is no longer there, a new
school standing in it's place.
After a suggestion from 'Lightfoot' the four plan to re-hit the bank the original team had
robbed seven years before, trouble is, none of them have any cash, and they need
expensive equipment to re-enact the previous heist........they have to work to raise the
necessary funds (Something they are clearly not used to doing)
Each of the four must play their part if the Robbery is to go to plan............however, is
there honour amongst thieves ?
The film has some great car-chases, a few scenes of violence, some adult content and
a bucket-load of humour, with an element of sadness.
Great Chemistry between 'Clint' and 'Jeff' -these guys really are great actors.
The Blu-ray version is quite a step-up from the DVD version, not perfect but more than
on 23 April 2014
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) Twilight Time Blu Ray review
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot makes a most welcome release to Blu Ray. The film marked the directorial debut of screenwriter Michael Cimino, a filmmaker who would later experience the full spectrum of Hollywood’s high and low points. Here, Cimino operates at a purely benevolent level, both innocent and opportunist in his approach, Cimino appears to excel in his direction under the conscientious guidance of star/producer Clint Eastwood and his Malpaso Company. By 1974, the 44 year-old Eastwood was both wise and experienced enough to recognise the signs of wasteful and misplaced production values. Big budgeted studio pictures such as Paint Your Wagon and Where Eagles Dare had served as a priceless, cautionary tale that Eastwood would carry with him as part of his evolving education. As one of the emerging breed of Hollywood’s young turks, Ciminio was of course keen to express himself. However, unlike Cimino’s later relationships with the studios, Eastwood arguably retained a firm hold of the leash. Granting Ciminio a certain freedom to express himself certainly proved good, logical sense – and as a result, allowed an innocent freshness to shine through. Nevertheless, one is left with an overwhelming feeling that this may have been one of the rare occasions that Cimino was guided by an experienced hand and advised to either ‘stop’ or ‘move on’.
In its simplest form, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a superior slice of Americana, and you’d be hard pushed not to notice the stars and stripes gently dancing on a breeze somewhere along the journey. At its helm, it is a hugely enjoyable comedy–crime caper, whilst at its heart; we are called upon to observe a richly displayed and extremely well defined character study. The nature of its storytelling is really something to behold, for it is a genuine rarity by today’s standards. The film flows easily at a gentle pace, allowing each and every character to unfold and reveal their layers. To observe a cliché, it really is ‘the kind of film they don’t make anymore’. To explore the plot would serve little purpose, and it is, after all, there for you to discover and enjoy for yourself.
As mentioned above, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is driven by characterization, and this re-evaluation of the film has again certainly highlighted how superior the four performances really are. Eastwood as ex bank robber Thunderbolt appears both relaxed and at ease in his role, an ‘everyman’ of sorts, who projects a confident, laid-back coolness. Jeff Bridges stars as Lightfoot, a brash, quick-witted wiseass with a happy go lucky attitude. In many ways, Bridges steals the show with a wonderful performance that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The ever reliable George Kennedy plays Red Leary, an angry, violent man who shares a past with Thunderbolt, while Leary’s sidekick Goody is played by Geoffrey Lewis, a harmless rogue and routine lackey. Between the four central characters, the ‘buddy’ element of the narrative is truly defined – between both Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and Leary and Goody. Yet, there is also an awkward darkness that creeps into the proceedings which leaves an unsettling atmosphere - primarily between Lightfoot and Leary. It is a clash driven by disrespect and old school morals. Lightfoot’s lack of conduct and overall demeanour (Lightfoot wears leather pants) are everything that Leary hates about ‘the kid’ and a constant cause of friction between the two. However, the relationships (as well as the characters) are also multifaceted, and questioned beyond the narrative. For example, Thunderbolt is quick to assert a display of masculinity when Lightfoot is threatened, as one would perhaps expect to see a woman’s honour defended by a man… Later in the film Lightfoot is required to dress as a woman in order to aid in the heist – coincidental? This is just one (rather blatant) example of many - which are more diverse and subliminal throughout the film. It is a curious observation of subtext, and one which (I can assure you) creates some fascinating debate. There is also plenty of room to discuss the overall attitude towards women in this film, which is pretty much non-existent, and on the rare occasion when a female character does appear, doesn’t exactly prove complimentary.
In comparison, there is almost an innocent modesty about Cimino’s film, a simple ‘no thrills’ look which is defined by Frank Stanley’s extraordinary photography. The Big Skies and sprawling untouched landscapes of Montana almost serve as the film’s purist example of beauty. Dee Barton’s restrained score also adds to the subtle quality and only ‘beefs up’ decisively for the film’s tense final. The highlight of the music is of course the memorable song Where Do I Go from Here (1971) written and performed by Paul Williams.
Like the unspoilt landscape of Montana, Twilight Time’s 1080p transfer of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot has been beautifully and thoughtfully handled. From the outset, let me point out that Thunderbolt and Lightfoot has always contained ‘film grain’, it’s meant to. It was shot on 35mm film stock, and thankfully the film’s grain is left intact. Unfortunately, too many films from this particular period are ‘ironed out’ to within an inch of their lives and therefore eliminate the film’s original look. The opening shots (almost static images of sky and fields) perhaps display the film’s grain at its most prominent – yet is far from a distraction and remains the life blood of celluloid. More importantly, the film has been produced with attention to maximum clarity. Physical, age related artefacts such as dust marks, specks have now been removed, whilst delicate colour grading as resulted in some nice deeper blacks and natural looking skin tones. It is obvious that there has been no attempt to over saturate and because of that, the film retains a genuine authentic look. In terms of audio, Twilight Time has provided a sweet sounding 1.0 DTS HD soundtrack. It’s rather amazing that some people still seem to have a grievance about titles such as this, and specifically why they do not contain a multi-channel soundtrack? It’s quite simple really, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was recorded in mono (= designating sound transmission or recording or reproduction over a single channel), hopefully, enough said…
Twilight Time’s extras boast the Original Theatrical Trailer which provides just enough to tease you into the story without any spoilers, and nicely showcases composer Dee Barton’s dramatic side of his score. For the first time, we are also treated to Dee Barton’s isolated score – a genuine treat for soundtrack hunters. After listening to the isolated score in its entirety, I can perhaps understand why Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was never been granted a dedicated soundtrack release. Whilst it is nicely composed - it is sparingly used - until the actual heist gets underway. This is where Barton turns up the heat, and his variations of an edgy, electronic theme truly takes hold. It is well worth the inclusion, and a lot of people will be thankful that Twilight Time took this opportunity to make sure that Barton’s score never fell into obscurity.
The film’s commentary track proved to be the highlight of the extras. Moderated in relaxed and friendly style, Nick Redman sits down with guests Lem Dobbs and Julie Kirgo. Together, the team provide an endless stream of incredible information. Among the subjects discussed are detailed analysis of virtually everyone that appears on screen, the career of director Cimino, production history and the conspicuous ongoing debate revolving around the Gay/No way subtext. Originating on an internet forum from many years ago, (of which I was one of the regular contributors) both Dobbs and Kirgo discuss at length the evidence behind this extraordinary element of the film which continues to remain the subject of fascinating debate.
Twilight Time has also provided a very nice accompanying booklet containing production notes and a history of the film, all written intelligently by Julie Kirgo. The case cover comes in the shape of the rarely used Style ‘A’ U.S. 1 sheet and containing the fabulous artwork of Ken Barr. A beautiful package, thoughtfully produced and one not to be missed, it’s hard to see Thunderbolt and Lightfoot ever looking better than this.
on 14 November 2014
Clint Eastwood plays Thunderbolt, a preacher, who during a sermon, is chased out of his church by a couple of old friends, who turn out to be bank robbers. He is rescued by Lightfoot, played by Jeff Bridges, who has just stolen a car. The two quickly form a friendship and put as much distance as they can from their assailants. Seven years previously, Thunderbolt, and his pursuers, had robbed a bank and hidden the money, now apparently missing. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot eventually team up with their pursuers, Red and Eddie, played respectively by George Kennedy, and Geoffrey Lewis. They start planning to rob the same bank in the same way.
In the early part of the 70's, there were a number of films that could be grouped together and put in the same genre. Namely about people travelling across America by car for whatever reason, and this is one of them. The cinematography does justice to the 2.35: ratio. There is a light layer of digital noise, but this only lasts for a few seconds when visible, so does not distract when watching the film.
Picture Quality is good with a sharp image, and colours look natural. This blu ray has been transferred in it's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and the sound is 2.0.
This blu ray release is superior to the standard dvd not only in the Picture Quality, but on the standard dvd the image was not transferred Anamorphically, so to get the image to 2.35:1, the TV needs to be in zoom mode, which in turn loses some Picture Quality.
Final word: Even if you already own the dvd, it is worth the upgrade to have this film in an Anamorphic transfer.