Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)


This is a movie that wastes no time whatsoever in getting off the starting block. It immediately begins with Thunderbolt (Clint Eastwood) dressed as a church minister delivering a sermon. Suddenly a strange man walks into the church and begins to open fire on Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt runs for his life when he is almost knocked over by Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges), who has just stolen a car off a lot. Thunderbolt hitches a ride and the two slowly become friends. However two men from Thunderbolt’s past want to find him, believing he stole from them. Red Leary (George Kennedy) and Eddie Goody (Geoffrey Lewis) have a score to settle with Thunderbolt.


When the two men catch up to Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, they learn of the truth to the heist that Thunderbolt carried out many years prior. Together the four men decide to carry out a new heist on a security deposit vault, though the animosity that Red feels for Lightfoot threatens to throw the whole plan into disarray. The plan is very elaborate, but to get the money needed the men must find jobs to finance it. This for me is where I felt the film kind of slowed down. It was a monotonous section, that almost felt like what a real job would feel like…boring. However it doesn’t last long.


The plan even involves Lightfoot in drag, forcing Jeff Bridges to show a little leg, which to be fair to the guy doesn’t look half bad. To say any more would spoil what I felt was a great final third. The chemistry between the two leads is great, and you can tell they enjoyed themselves whilst filming. The support from George Kennedy as the volatile Red Leary is brilliant. He really does let rip with his short temper and is a menacing presence. Geoffrey Lewis is also funny as the slightly simple Eddie Goody, just looking to impress Red.


The film is directed by Michael Cimino, and was his first feature before he directed ‘The Deer Hunter’ four years later. Cimino was a director that never really delivered after ‘The Deer Hunter’, with ‘Year of the Dragon’ and ‘The Sicilian’ being disappointments. He does well in his first directorial role here however, also serving as the writer too with what isn’t too bad a script. I would recommend this, as it’s definitely worth a watch. This copy of the film was graciously provided by the kind folks at Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is released on 23rd June and is available now for pre-order.






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