• Thunderbolt And Lightfoot (Second Sight Films)

    Released by: Second Sight
    Released on: June 23rd, 2014.
    Director: Michael Cimino
    Cast: Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, George Kennedy, Geoffrey Lewis
    Year: 1974
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    The Movie:

    The directorial debut of screenwriter Michael Cimino, who would go on to huge success with The Deer Hunter and then obliterate his career with Heaven’s Gate, 1974’s Thunderbolt And Lightfoot begins in a small church in rural Montana. Here an unnamed preacher (Clint Eastwood) delivers his sermon to his congregation when a gunman shows up at the door and opens fire. The preacher runs through a field and into a road just as a young man in a stolen car (Jeff Bridges) arrives to run the gunman down and run off down the road with the Preacher. We learn that the young man is Lightfoot and that the preacher is a former bank robber known as Thunderbolt. The two strike up a friendship and head to a hotel where they bed a few loose women (one of whom is a young Catharine Bach) and swig some beers.

    From there, they wind up begrudgingly making up with Thunderbolt’s former teammate, Red Leary (George Kennedy) and his Eddie Goody (Geoffrey Lewis). It seems that the money from the bank job Thunderbolt and Red got away with years back was stashed behind the blackboard of an old schoolhouse but that schoolhouse has been bulldozed and rebuilt. Lightfoot suggests they try again, and soon enough the four men are planning on hitting the same place the same way that it was successfully knocked over the first time around, and they just might pull it off, so long as they can all trust one another…

    All of Cimino’s trademarks are on display here, even this early in his career - tough men working together in big open spaces, violence, quirky characters and hard living. He paces the film well and, working off of a script he wrote (that he originally wanted Eastwood to direct), the movie works quite well. There are a few characters that pop up in the movie without any obvious reason, the best example being a driver who offers our hitchhiking heroes a ride in a car inhabited by a raccoon and a trunk full of rabbits, but even those odd ducks fit well in the world our central characters inhabit.

    Performances are very strong across the board, with Eastwood more or less playing the strong, silent type he’s known for but not at the cost of character development. His Thunderbolt is an older and wiser character than Lightfoot and becomes almost a father figure to the younger man. Eastwood suits these types of roles well and his work in this picture is rock solid. Bridges got an Oscar nomination for his work here and in retrospect it’s easy to see why. His Lightfoot comes across as a freewheeling guy just out to have a good time but under the randy and rowdy surface is a young man who is obviously pretty lonely and in serious want of some friendship. The relationship that develops and much of the imagery used to relay this has led some to see gay subtext in the picture, and it isn’t hard to see it if you’re looking for it but much of this would seem to stem from Lightfoot’s longing for acceptance from the older man he encounters randomly out there by the church in the opening scene. Viewers will make up their own minds on this as the movie never really spells out it (and is all the better for it). Throw in great supporting work from a genuinely funny Geoffrey Lewis, a cameo from a young Gary Busey and some scene stealing acting from George Kennedy as the hot head with a gun and the movie is cast pretty much perfectly and sees all involved at the top of their respective game.

    The movie is well paced and beautifully photographed making great use of the ‘big sky country’ where it all plays out. It builds to an appropriately enough conclusion, one that carries with it the impact brought on by strong character development, good scriptwriting and solid acting and most importantly it entertains throughout.


    Thunderbolt And Lightfoot was previously released in North America on Blu-ray by Twilight Time Releasing. That disc is now out of print. The transfer on this UK release from Second Sight looks very similar to the Twilight Time transfer, which is a good thing as that disc looked very good. Like that disc, this Blu-ray is properly framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 25GB disc, though no compression artifacts were noted during playback. The outdoor scenes show excellent and very natural looking colors while skin tones stay appropriately warm without ever looking off. There’s a natural amount of film grain but not much at all in the way of actual print damage to note. Detail is quite strong, during both interior and exterior shots, while texture and depth are well advanced past what standard definition could provide. There’s no obvious digital trickery here to complain about, the picture is free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    The LPCM Mono track, in the film’s native English language, is also quite good. Though range is understandably limited by the source, there’s a good amount of depth particularly during the last half hour where the action really picks up. Dialogue is natural and easy to follow and there are no issues with hiss or distortion. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided.

    Unfortunately, unlike the aforementioned North American release, there are no extra features on the disc, only a menu offering chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Thunderbolt And Lightfoot remains a genuinely entertaining crime film anchored by great work from Eastwood and especially Bridges and a scene stealing supporting effort from the criminally underrated George Kennedy. The Blu-ray from Second Sight is barebones but it offers up the movie in excellent shape and with solid audio.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I've got this on preorder. Really looking forward to it dropping through my letterbox, as I'm a very big fan of this film and have been since my first viewing of it. Sad to see that it's extras-free, but those Twilight Time discs seem near-impossible to import into the UK for a reasonable amount, so I'll be happy in the knowledge that the presentation on this disc is near-equal to that of the US BD. Thanks for the review, Ian
    1. Nabonga's Avatar
      Nabonga -
      Extras or not, IDGAF. Such a great movie! Instant buy.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      This arrived today! Smashing.