23rd Jun2014

‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, George Kennedy,  Geoffrey Lewis,  Gary Busey, Catherine Bach | Written and Directed by Michael Cimino


If there is one thing that America does well it’s the road movie, really it should be no surprise as they do have quite a few of them.  From Vanishing Point to Easy Rider these movies tend to be iconic to their fans and share moments in movie history that are hard to forget.  For me though one of the best has to be Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, a film where Clint Eastwood does what he does best and Jeff Bridges put on an Academy Award nominated performance as a young upstart who just wanted to be an old crooks friend.

Even though Eastwood is obviously the star of the movie it really comes alive with the first appearance of Lightfoot (Bridges) onto the screen, stealing a car in an easy grift.  Thunderbolt (Eastwood) is first seen as a preacher chased out of his sermon by an armed man, saved by Lightfoot in his speeding car the friendship and road trip has begun.  With a search for money hidden away in an old school-house, which now appear to be lost, this also leads to the arrived of Red Leary (George Kennedy) and Eddie Goody (Geoffrey Lewis) and the creation of the group who will not only look to their past but also look to a future where they could be rich.

In many ways Bridges is like a member of the audience, he speeds halfway into a story that has gone on for years.  With lies and recriminations leading to the need for revenge, Lightfoot is the catalyst that pushes not only for the continuation of the story but something of a redo that will finally put to bed old ghosts from the past.

The strongest part of the movie by far is the friendship between Thunderbolt and Lightfoot but we also can’t forget the friendship between Red Leary and Eddie Goody too.  Though these two are more of the comic sidekicks of the piece they are still charismatic in their own ways.  George Kennedy plays Red with the well-known intensity he often put into his performances and although there are times we could admire Red, he is a very unlikable character who we soon grow to detest.  Geoffrey Lewis though is dependable as the lovable goof who just seems to be along for the ride, which we’d see again with Clint Eastwood in Any Which Way But Loose.

Even though this is a barebones release which is odd for a Second Sight Blu-ray, the quality of the film itself is enough of a selling point for me.  Not only that, but the quality of the transfer shows-off the film to be the best quality I’ve seen, and I probably that you’ve seen too.  In many ways Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a blast from the past, seeing actors such as a young Gary Busey and the theme song Where Do I Go from Here by Paul Williams it really places the film in a moment in movie history, and a strong one.   This was a time when Clint Eastwood was the big money draw and Jeff Bridges the rising star,  and there is a feel that the movie is somewhat mirroring this reality; thankfully not though with the same ending.

Re-watching Thunderbolt and Lightfoot after many years it really is good to see it given the treatment it deserves, though some special features would have been nice.  Just on the movie alone thing in my opinion this is one of Second Sight’s must buy Blu-ray releases.  A true classic with both Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges at their best, this is one of the best buddy, heist and road movies of all time.

***** 5/5

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is available on Blu-ray in the UK now from Second Sight.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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