Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1974
Directed by
Michael Cimino
114 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Thunderbolt And Lightfoot

Other than the picture postcard American Midwest locations there’s really nothing here to suggest that Michael Cimino helmed this relatively rough and ready caper movie, let alone that the director would hit Oscar gold with his next movie, The Deer Hunter.

Eastwood handpicked Cimino who had written the script for Magnum Force and also wrote the script for this film to make his directorial debut. The title refers to the two main characters played by Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges respectively as a couple of itinerant rogues who meet up after the latter spies the former being pursued by a man, Red (George Kennedy) taking potshots at him.  The pair end up on road trip to retrieve the loot  with Red and his offsider, Goody (Geoffrey Lewis), in pursuit. When the road turns into a dead-end the four decide to repeat the robbery.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a blokey heist-cum-road movie with cars being regularly wrecked, hot chicks in mini-dresses or less making gratuitous appearances as our protagonists go about their crime with precise efficiency and surprising ease yet still managing to botch it.

Cimino was probably familiar with 1950s B grade crime-doesn’t-pay movies such as Richard Fleischer’s Armored Car Robbery, something perhaps acknowledged by the old car that Red and Goody travel.  Either way there is a B-grade feel to the film, up-dated to the 1970s and given a comedic twist, that is one of its more appealing aspects. At times the film wanders into the period taste for absurdity as for example when the pair get picked up by a nut-job with dozens of white rabbits in the boot of his car or Goody gets a job driving a three-wheeled ice-cream truck.

Produced under the banner of his Malpaso company, Eastwood steps out of his usual dour persona but is still compelling laconic as the older man who adopts the exuberantly youthful Lightfoot, well played by Bridges whilst the casting of veteran George Kennedy as the old school crim is a nice touch

There’s lot going on in the film which in hindsight suggests the non-conforming approach of Robert Altman and this distinguishes it from more straightforward heist movies of the period like Don Seigel’s Charley Varrick (1973) although this at times leads to very loose plotting, most acutely with respect to the post-robbery bust at the drive-in which had no justification that I could discern.

Available from: Screenpop




Want something different?

random vintage best worst