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Jeff Bridges, Clint Eastwood Bright as thunder,
loud as lightning


Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges team up for an amusing,
if dated, Michael Cimino caper movie


"Thunderbolt & Lightfoot"

Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla

(Click on the image to see a larger version and credits.)

Once a mainstay of Saturday afternoon cinema, this Clint Eastwood action thriller is seeing the light of a new day via DVD re-release. All the digital splendor of a DVD doesn't hide just how dated this movie is, though.

Notable as the first directoral effort of Michael "Heavens Gate" Cimino, the film concerns the pairing of a middle-aged, jaded bank robber now in hiding (Eastwood) and a young, impetuous and, er, highly vigorous young man named Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges, who garnered a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for the role) who literally run into each other in a wheatfield while bullets whiz around them. That pretty much sets the tone for the movie.

They are being chased by Red Leary (George Kennedy), a foul-tempered former member of the Thunderbolt gang (Thunderbolt is Eastwood's character, by the way). Eventually, they all hook up and plan to duplicate the gang's legendary heist of Montana Armored. But you just know that Lightfoot, so full of piss and vinegar, will get on stodgy old Red Leary's nerves like stink on a two-dollar cigar, and that the fur will fly because of it.

DVD notes
Nothing special. It IS a beautiful print with all its wide-screen glory restored. Not much beyond that, except for the original theatrical trailer and a rather informative booklet that gives some interesting background into the making of the movie.
The location in Great Falls, Montana, brings out the feeling of desolation and isolation that couldn't be pulled off on a studio backlot. Cimino shows some decent writing skills with a few unexpected twists here and there, but mainly he borrows too heavily on a stylistic level from such movies as "Bonnie and Clyde," "The Wild Bunch" and "Easy Rider."

Eastwood is at the point of his career here where he was beginning to stretch his acting wings ("Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" immediately followed "Play Misty For Me" on Eastwood's resume). Of course, the basics of his personna honed in so many bad Italian westerns are there, but the tough guy he plays here has a vulnerable, world-weary and dog-loyal soul beneath the veneer.

Few movies age well, especially those that try to make a hipness quotient that generally eludes Hollywood movies. What's hip in one era becomes hopelessly anachronistic in the next. "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" has some meat on its bones, but generally speaking, holds up about as well as "The Partridge Family" does.

Theater or Video? You're kidding, right?
DVD at Amazon.com.
VHS at Amazon.com.

See cast, credit and other details about "Thunderbolt & Lightfoot" at Internet Movie Data Base.