Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) Poster

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10/10
Eastwood and Bridges
littlemartinarocena20 August 2011
Two misfits and a love story between two loners. That in itself it's an intriguing premise but if you add to that mix, Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges as the two loners, then we'll have something we've never seen before. Lightfoot (a superlative Jeff Bridges) has a crush on Thunderbolt (an astonishing Clint Eastwood) at first sight. Thunderbolt seems to be aware of it, if only subconsciously but eventually surrenders to the kind of feeling he, probably, never experienced. A father with a son who hero worships him. Tragically romantic. Brutal and deeply felt, Michael Cimino's debut as a director is a feast for the senses. Highly recommended.
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8/10
Cimino first triumphant debut…
Nazi_Fighter_David7 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The very first shot of "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" – a faultless composition, fifty per cent wispy Idaho sky, fifty per cent cornfield – establishes an elegant style which Cimino maintains throughout the film… The second scene – Clint Eastwood as we have never seen him before, wearing spectacles, his hair slicked back and dressed as a vicar delivering a sermon in a crowded country church – immediately makes one realize that the film may be quite different from any of Eastwood's previous ones… But the third scene, in which the vicar is chased across a seemingly endless cornfield by an irate gun-firing George Kennedy establishes that all is not as it seems to be…

Eastwood is rescued by Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges), who has just relieved a car salesman of $3000 dollars' worth of automobile, and a partnership is quickly created, with the veteran Thunderbolt asserting his experience and virility over the inexperienced Lightfoot... Casting off his vicar's clothes Thunderbolt then takes his belt and endures agonizing pain as he uses it to pull his dislocated shoulder into place…

Thunderbolt is being pursued by Red Leary (George Kennedy) and Eddie Goody (Geoffrey Lewis) who are former partners of his in crime and who believe he has the half million dollar takings from their last bank raid… They mean business… While Thunderbolt and Lightfoot enjoy themselves with two young ladies named Gloria and Melody, Leary and Goody wait outside. 'Are you sure that's their car?' wonders Goody. 'That's their hearse,' says Leary…

The film was a triumphant debut for Cimino… His script combined wit and the naive philosophy of the motorized cowboys… 'Leary, I had a dream about you last night." "About what?" "I dreamt you said hello to me.'

At the beginning of the film when Eastwood recites his sermon for the benefit of his felonious friend, 'and the lion shall lie down with the leopard' (Cimino used it purposely to indicate the liaison between Lightfoot the lion and Thunderbolt the leopard), the younger man asks 'What's that – a poem?' 'No,' replies Thunderbolt, 'a prayer'. At the end of the film the younger man is still seeking answers from his senior partner… 'Where you heading?' 'See what's over the next mountain! We won, didn't we?' 'I guess we did – for the time being.'

Cimino created the part for Eastwood and in doing so drew greatly on his actual personality… For those people who know the real Clint Eastwood, no film part better conveys the style, the warmth, and the dry delivery of the man himself…
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"Where do I go from here?"
LewisJForce12 January 2004
Michael Cimino's first film is an arresting fusion of early 70's road movie, 'Buddy' picture and 'planning a heist' action-thriller. That it manages to incorporate these elements into a poetic study of male friendship and the unquenchable restlessness at the heart of the great American pioneer/drifter mentality makes it a remarkable piece of work.

Cimino avoids the 'arty' distance of Terence Malick's 'Badlands' or the po-faced existentialism of Monte Hellman's 'Two Lane Black-top', but entertains the same thematic concerns within the framework of an accessible genre piece. From it's opening vista of a deserted wheat field, accompanied by the haunting strains of a single acoustic guitar, the film resonates with loneliness and loss. "Tell me where, Where does a fool go", sings Paul Williams, "when there's no-one left to listen, to a story without meaning, that no-body wants to hear?"

It is also funny and tender in it's observation of male camaraderie. Eastwood has never been more effective and affecting on-screen than in his interplay here with Jeff Bridges. We get a real sense of his character's connection to Bridges which makes the 'Midnight Cowboy'-ish ending genuinely moving.

Like all the great 70's movies, it has some wonderfully memorable scenes and dialogue: Dub Taylor ranting about the imminent collapse of the American economy at a nocturnal gas station; Bill Mckinney as a crazed speed-freak with a trunk full of white rabbits; Bridges encountering a hammer-wielding female motorcyclist, etc, etc.

Throw in some breath-taking scenic photography of Montana by Frank Stanley (prefiguring the use and role of landscape in relation to character later explored by Cimino in 'The Deer Hunter') and some beautifully understated character work in the smaller roles, and you have a fondly remembered minor classic ripe for some serious re-appraisal.
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Beyond buddies.
pdagnillo9 March 2004
I think this movie gets lost in all the commercial Clint Eastwood vehicles,it far surpasses most of his 70's attempts. This is mostly due to Cimino's script and Bridges acting and honest words.This is far more than a buddy picture,rather one of the greatest love stories on film(all homosexual connotations aside),taking the male relationship in film to new levels because of the contrast of characters and there immediate like for one another.Skipped is most of the bickering used in lessor buddy flicks instead great interaction between the two and Clint still gets to shine as one of the coolest tough guys of the 70's.Great cinematography coupled with beautiful backdrops and a fine supporting cast make this a must see.
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A fascinating character-based comedy drama masquerading as a buddy action movie.
Infofreak12 March 2003
I found 'Thunderbolt And Lightfoot' in the "action" section of my local video store, and a quick glance at the cover and blurb might make you think you're in for a buddy action comedy, like Eddie Murphy et al made in the 1980s and Jackie Chan is making now. This is not entirely correct. While it is essentially a buddy movie and there is "action" in it, it is much more character-driven and episodic than most movies in the genre, and has more in common with forgotten 1970s gems like 'Scarecrow' or 'Fat City', than your typical Clint Eastwood fare from this period. Michael Cimino, who co-wrote the ecological SF sleeper 'Silent Running', and wrote the first (and best) movie in Eastwood's 'Dirty Harry' series, debuts impressively as director here. Eastwood himself is very good as enigmatic thief Thunderbolt, even better is Jeff Bridges who steals the movie as his young protege Lightfoot. Some people dislike this movie because it appears to meander along for no particular reason, but I really enjoyed the interaction between Eastwood and Bridges, who really seem to be having a ball working together. The plot eventually comes together with a robbery involving the two and character actors George Kennedy ('Cool Hand Luke' and Eastwood regular Geoffrey Lewis ('The Way Of The Gun'). I still really wouldn't call this a caper movie (ala 'Rififi', 'The Killing', 'The Anderson Tapes', etc,etc.), it's not as straightforward as that. The robbery plot is almost an excuse for a bunch of enjoyable scenes between the actors, who are all excellent and really play off each other in an entertaining way. Also keep an eye out for bit parts by Gary Busey ('Big Wednesday'), Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke!), Dub Taylor ('The Wild Bunch') and others, especially an unforgettable bit with the legendary Bill McKinney ('Deliverance'), one of the highlights of the movie. There's no way I'm going to argue that 'Thunderbolt And Lightfoot' is a forgotten classic, but it is a lot of fun to watch, it is unpredictable and interesting and features some fine performances, and that is a lot more than you can say for most subsequent Hollywood movies of this type. Recommended to 1970s buffs and anyone who enjoys Jeff Bridges.
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10/10
Eastwood & Bridges & Lewis & Cimino = sheer delight !
wmjahn31 August 2007
I have to admit, I am a sucker for 70ies movies, this was the last golden age in Hollywood and compared to those days, we're now already on a 25 year trip through the desert with now light ahead.

Of course, since I just plain simply love this movie, I might not be objective in my praise, but IMHO this movie does offer a lot to praise. When I read through some other favorable reviews of T&L I found - here and there - lines indicating some apology that they consider this a great movie, but I don'think there is any reason to apology for any praise regarding this little gem.

Made in the heydays of "New Hollywood" (5 years later the party was over anyway) T&L might have been considered as a "throwaway"-picture by the studio, but it certainly was not one for the people involved. In those days there was abundant talent available and it was much easier for young cinema-lovers and professionals to get "the foot into the door". One of them was Michael CIMINO (aged 35 then), who was trusted enough by Eastwood and the studio to be allowed - with a mere two screenplays on his belt (Silent running + Magnum Force) - to direct his first feature (I think his later pictures and the stories behind them are known well enough). And what a marvelous job he did ! Like so many other directors of the 70ies Cimino proves the point that most of them made their best pictures at the very start of their careers. Cimino is one of them, whose first 2 pictures are his best 2 as well (as opposed to "Old Hollywood", when directors made their best work in their later careers, because they first had to free themselves from the rigid studio-system prevailing then).

Considered by some as a highly entertaining, but minor Eastwood-outing, this view has to be corrected. At this time Eastwood was already a seasoned veteran, who had worked with some of the best directors available these days (Leone, Siegel, to name the 2 most important) and had already successfully directed two features (so it can well be assumed he also lent his hand at this or that scene). Compared to that, Cimino was a complete "nobody".

T&L is also the first one, in which Eastwood gives a completely unexperienced director his first chance and - after a string of superb action/western-flicks - one of his first efforts to break the tendency to by typecast. Insofar his role in T&L is a step away from the Man with no name, be it western or cop, but of course - always knowing his limits - not a too far away step from his usual roles (a loner, here with more humor than usual). If wanted, one can consider this little gem as one of his first steps at "auteurism" (I know, this theory is aged, but not completely wrong).

Eastwood certainly did take this movie serious as did Bridges, whose fifth important picture this is (after Last Picture Show, Fat City, Bad Company and Last American Hero). Bridges was of course the perfect choice for this movie and Eastwood/Cimino certainly knew, whom they picked. The same goes for Eastwood-extra Geoff Lewis (still active today in US TV) and Gary Busey, who spends his time today in grade E action-schlock.

In addition to this perfect cast and the direction, which I would describe as one full of "lazy assurance" (although by a newcomer) we have a well balanced, highly entertaining story with superbly drawn characters (the movie is evenly balanced and to equal parts plot- and character-driven). The characters are not the usual cartoon-type cliché's, but believable slackers, living the day and planning a heist.

The whole movie has a superb aura of laid-back laziness and coolness, and this all comes completely unforced. In fact I'd even go so far as to say that it is maybe this special aura, which lifts this above all other road- and heist-movies I can think of (some come near, but not many). Right from the start, when we see Eastwood running through a corn-filed until the twisted end, this movie is full of small stories, vignettes and subplots, but without forgetting it's main story. With so much happening it is more than surprising, that it can keep up it's leisured pace, it's laziness, although there's in fact more happening in it than in many other faster-driven movies.

Also the ending - ATTENTION: SPOILERS AHEAD !! - is untypical for a Hollywood movie of the "old(er) era" = pre-70ies. Actually, when Eastwood and Bridges have found - more less by accident - the building, where they had hidden the money, hardly any viewer would actually expect the loot to still be there. But then, after this has been accomplished, everybody would wish and expect them to get away with it and drive off into the sunset happily. Both assumptions are not fulfilled. They do find the money, but they do not get away happily. The ending is bitter, but highly realistic. Contrary to some comments here, the given ending is not owed to the old morale "crime does not pay", in no way at all. First, Bridges going to petty-criminals heaven has absolutely nothing to do with the heist, it is just the result of bad circumstances resulting from a fist-fight (ironically, that's what the novelist behind Outlaw Josey Wales died of later). Insofar it has no morale at all, it just happens, because things like this also do happen in the real world (unfortunately). Eastwood and Cimino are clearly playing with expectations here. ...

./. unfortunately I only have 1000 words available here, but did need more, so please check the discussion board for the complete comment ... sorry, sometimes there's more to say than fits into 1000 words. :-)
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8/10
One Of Clint's Best Stand Alone Movies
slightlymad2228 March 2017
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

Plot In A Paragraph: A bank robber (Eastwood) gets his old gang back together, to organize a daring new heist, with the help of a young sidekick (A brilliant Jeff Bridges)

This is one of my favourite Clint movies that isn't a western or a Dirty Harry movie. There is just so much to savour. The great chemistry between Clint and Jeff Bridges, great locations, wonderful dialogue and not to mention the soundtrack too.

Again, Clint clearly did his own stunts. I think Clint should have been nominated for an Oscar for his work here. Apparently he agreed and rumour has it, he was upset Bridges was nominated, whilst he was ignored. Malpaso regulars Geoffrey Lewis and Bill McKinney pop up too.

My Dad (God rest his sole) never cared for this movie, citing its homoerotic subtext for his reason (Top Gun and Tango & Cash were also movies he disliked for this reason) and I know a few people who think the same, but it's never been a problem for me and I think if you scrutinize such matters too closely, you lose sight of the movies playful nature. And whilst there are moments, it's not like the two men are without women in the movie!! Bridges picks up two girls, and takes them back to the Motel for him and Clint, then the next day when the go for breakfast, Bridges orders 4 eggs, bacon, toast, fries, coffee and the waitress herself, whilst Clint orders a black coffee and smirks at his companion.

Thunderbolt & Lightfoot disappointingly didn't make a dent at the box office grossing only $9 million at the domestic box office!! A huge disappointment to Clint, who blamed United Artists for inadequately promoting the film. Despite his relationship with the studio on the spaghetti Westerns, and having a two picture deal from the studio, he never made another movie for them.
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7/10
A male Thelma And Louise!
jessewillis16 October 2003
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) isn't perfect, but it has a lot going for it. The pairing Eastwood and Bridges is great, these aren't the same kinds of actors, and yet their on-screen relationship works well. Supporting character actors George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis round out rest of the heisters, and Gary Busey makes an early appearance in a small role. Also of note is the striking Montana scenery, quite unseen on film, this movie does an admirable job showcasing it. What I'm really surprised about is how no one else seems to have noticed a couple of things about this film.

First: The title of this film, and its two main characters are an homage to a pair of famous 19th century highwaymen who called themselves respectively `Captain Thunderbolt' and `Captain Lightfoot'. This isn't the last time Hollywood film criminals would be named after real life bandits. In the film `The Way Of The Gun' the characters are called `Mr. Parker and Mr. Longbaugh' which of course were the real names of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid! Also of interest is the fact that Geoffrey Lewis appears in The Way Of The Gun!

Second: Those interested in a companion piece to this film might consider watching `Thelma and Louise' which mirrors the on-the-road relationship of this film very closely. Though the plot is different, the relationship with the landscape and the emphasis on two characters is strikingly similar. In short a good film, worth watching!
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10/10
clint and jeff
kairingler16 June 2010
most people remember Michael Cimino for his classic masterpiece the DeerHunter,, this film while not quite that is very close i think to a cult classic,, Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges work so well together,, add in Geoffrey Lewis,, George Kennedy,, small parts for Catherine Bach Vic Tayback , and Gary Busey, plus a great story,, and music, you have a wonderful film to behold,, Johnny is on the run from Red,, from a job he pulled 10 years ago,, Red tries to kill him but with Lightfoot's help Johnny lives another day,, he then convinces Johnny to pull the exact same job as 10 years ago, because they would never expect it.. the job involves blowing a safe, and high tailing it out of town,, Red gets greedy decides he wants all the cash,,,, but alas our heroes have something close to them Red does not,,, the wherabouts of the original 500,000 ,,, great movie,, i'd watch it over and over again,, Hollywood needs to make these kinds of movies,,
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10/10
"Stop you FREAK - I love you"
godamndevil19778 March 2006
Thunderbolt & Lightfoot might just be the second best film in both Eastwood & Bridge's career. For Eastwood, I can't see anything excelling The Good, the Bad & the Ugly. As for Bridges, I think his pinnacle was in The Big Lebowski. But whatever - today we're discussing Thunderbolt & Lightfoot and it is a great great film. Doherty (Eastwood), an ex con / bank robber is by fate, recklessly aided by Lightfoot (Bridges) helping Doherty make a sharp exit from his former criminal associates (played by G Kennedy & G Busey). All four characters are forced to overlook their pasts and differences, we see a transformation and are strung a long a brilliant story of classic-buddies-plotting-to-beat-the-impossible-odds. Michael Cimino (Director) immediately throws the story and the characters into quick pace. He litters the film with good looking sets, sweet colour and oddly placed obstacles - for instance, a deranged hick driving by with a boot full of white rabbits. Maybe it was unintentional, but I think Cimino created one of the first films to really stage what we know as black-humour. 2 hours of tragic events, lined up one after the other underlined by stupidity and smart wit, of course we can not forget George Kennedy & Gary Busey's super assistance in supporting roles. Jeff Bridges is a remarkable and funny actor in this film, his part reveals a warm and naïve handsome young fella, yet somehow edged with that wise-fool-20-something vision that provides infectious viewing, especially the line to Clint "I don't know want your money man. I want your friendship". Clint Eastwood, is as you expect - laidback, dry and completely handy. Nothing new, but nothing you'd want to take away from that screen presence or enigma he's carefully carved over the years. Thunderbolt & Lightfoot was overlooked back in the day, United Artists must have been insane not to push, or help sparkle such a strong piece of golden nugget that was laid amongst so many other rough pebbles. ~Paul Browne.
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7/10
Old Movie that still kicks
mm-3911 April 2002
This film has a few weak spots in the script, but I sure like it. A heist movie, with a mean Kennedy in it. Jeff and Clent never made another movie, and they could be like Redford and Newman; they have movie chemistry. TBS edits this film too much, its recomended watching on video. Worth renting 7/10.
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10/10
A Little Piece of Americana
ramsfan6 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a vastly underrated film and a worthy addition to Clint Eastwood's fine canon of work. The movie begins with Eastwood (Thunderbolt) posing as a preacher in a small Montana town. When an assassin enters the church and starts shooting at him, he flees on foot and is rescued by Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges), a carefree drifter who has just stolen a car. The experienced, level-headed Thunderbolt and the young, impulsive Lightfoot form a partnership of sorts as they wander aimlessly throughout the countryside.

We find out that Eastwood's character robbed a bank years earlier using an anti-tank gun to blast a hole in the wall. His former confederates, the violent Red Leary (George Kennedy) and his none-too-bright sidekick Goody (Geoffrey Lewis), mistakenly think Eastwood took and hid the money for himself when Leary went to prison following the robbery. When cornered, Thunderbolt beats up Leary and convinces him of the truth- the money was never stolen: It was hidden behind the chalkboard of a one room schoolhouse in town which has since been replaced by a modern school. Thinking the money is gone forever, the four decide to pull off a similar caper.

Their partnership is an unholy alliance, made so by the hostile Leary, who detests Lightfoot and regards him as an incapable smart ass unworthy of inclusion. Only his grudging respect for Thunderbolt- an old war buddy and the brains of the operation- prevents bloodshed. Nonetheless, they meticulously plan the caper- getting legitimate jobs in town while casing the bank and determining the alarm set up and the time needed for escape. Eventually, they pull off the robbery but dumb luck gets them spotted afterwards- with tragic results for all involved.

This is a wonderful movie for several reasons. The interplay between Eastwood and Bridges creates great on-screen magnetism. The implementation of the plot itself is both precise and dramatic in its execution. Character actors George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis add immeasurably to the film; Lewis' mannerisms as the simpleton Goody are amusing while Kennedy shines as the temperamental Leary. He has a hilarious response to a little kid who chides him as he and Goody pose as ice cream men while staking out the bank. And Eastwood company player Bill McKinney makes a memorable if brief appearance as a drug-crazed nut with a shotgun and a trunk full of rabbits.

Perhaps the most revealing reason for this movie's allure is that it brings us back to a time when America still had its innocence in much of the country. Carefree living was the norm- there were no terror alerts, 9/11, or airport screenings. Drifters didn't automatically conjure images of people up to no good or out to do someone harm. At one point in the movie, Eastwood buys an extra ice cream cone and gives it to a random little kid- a harmless act that today that would sadly raise suspicions.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a lot of fun- and highly recommended.
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8/10
Michael Cimino's first is carried by Jeff Bridges
Ram_Bowen29 October 2008
I really liked this movie. Cimino keeps the story simple, funny and pretty involving: A young hotshot (Bridges) inspires a has-been bank robber (Eastwood) to take another crack at the bank which nearly brought him down the last time he hit it, and along the way they are both sabotaged and helped by Eastwood's former buddies (Kennedy and Lewis).

In my humble opinion, Jeff Bridges is ace as "Lightfoot" in this movie. There simply would be no movie without him, or, well, it might, but it would've been boring as hell. Eastwood plays Eastwood, maybe a bit softer around the edges than Harry Callahan, and does his part well. Still, he is kind of drowned by Bridges, Kennedy and Lewis. They do other stuff besides just being tough and professional, and God bless the script and them for it. Bridges is so incredibly good in this, he jumps around, he tries to wind up Kennedy and tries to lure some enthusiasm out of Eastwood; I can not imagine anyone else but Bridges as Lightfoot. He steals the movie away (he's also does some drag-stuff here, classic). The scenes with the lady in the house, the tussles with Kennedy, the brunette and her friend, the lady on a bike with a hammer. You have a lot to look forward to here.

Cimino's picture is about a criminal who is tired and who just wants to take it easy, but a young dude, full of romantic ideas, tempts him back into the game. Along the way, the violence and mayhem that made Eastwood leave it all back then catches up with them and they have to fight for their lives.

The movie is a must-see for fans of Eastwood, Cimino, Kennedy and Lewis - but it belongs to Jeff Bridges.
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10/10
Great roadmovie,love it!
steffan-316 July 2002
I really like this movie, and I believe Thunderbolt and Lightfoot are one of the better movies with Clint Eastwood, and he really make a great pair with Jeff Bridges. The location where Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is filmed are wonderful, the casting is perfect, good plot, great theme song in the beginning and at the end of the film, add this together and you have a really good movie! This movie is a must for those who loves the movies from the seventees! I gave this movie 9 stars out of 10
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7/10
US version censured ?
hayula17 March 2005
I remember watching this movie for the first time in the early eighties. I was still in elementary school but I still vaguely recall a scene where a young woman on a bicycle gets ambushed by Red Leary and gets away by clawing his cheek. Exciting stuff when u see a breast pop out on screen for the first time! If i'm not mistaken this would have been right before the scene where Jeff Bridge's character meets up with Red to go pick up the large caliber weapon. Where's the scene in the US DVD release? Other than the missing scene the movie was fun to watch again 30 years later. The cars and the print shirts, Jeff Bridges is simply awesome as a hippie drifting in the 70s. Clint Eastwood moves through the movie with a shattered shin and bad shoulder and still able to kick everyones ass when he has to. Awesome!
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6/10
An unusual heist film.
MartinHafer20 January 2018
One of the more enjoyable and bankable genres are heist films. And, if you think about it, there have been some truly memorable and amazing films in the genre as well, such as "Rififi", "Dog Day Afternoon", "Grand Slam" and the original "Oceans Eleven". However, "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" has some things going for it that make it different...in good ways as well as bad. As for the good, there's more story and it's not just about a robbery....so you see more character development. But on the bad, no one is anyone you can like or really care about...something you really NEED in order to make a great caper flick.

The biggest reason I wanted to see the film is because I'd only seen one tiny portion...the bunny scene. It's amazing...it's awful...and it's kinda funny...but in a sick way! See the movie...you'll see what I mean!

Also, according to IMDB Clint Eastwood felt he deserved an Oscar nomination since his co-star, Jeff Bridges, received one. I would beg to differ. Eastwood is fine but essentially plays his usual tight-lipped character and isn't much of a stretch. I am not saying he is not capable of great performances...this just isn't one of the better ones (like "Grand Torino").
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8/10
Great find from the past - perfect remembrance of the 70's
debbiep140614 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was a delight -- found it by accident and really enjoyed it. The story line builds up slowly. The music and photography evoke the lonely vista of the west and pan in to a church rising from the wheat fields. The heat is visceral, people fanning themselves and quietly listening to the preacher, who is.....Clint. This is a startling scene in and of itself, and when a lone gunman comes in shooting Clint (Thunderbolt) leaves by the window.

Mike Cimino builds the relationships slowly. As the characters come into play with each other, the violence is tempered with humor.

The characters seem very shallow until they start talking about the plan to repeat a former bank robbery; the discussion is detailed and technical, another twist giving the characters more depth.

The clothing, sexuality and free sexual expression truly evoked the era (represented by Lightfoot, the Jeff Bridges character). The disapproval and repressed sexuality expressed in comments to Lightfoot are representative of one of the major areas of conflict at that time (the older generation represented by Red, the George Kennedy character).

All in all a great romp, complete with a surprise bittersweet ending. In fact as all the characters die off it is somewhat like a Greek tragedy. Before going to meet his own death, Red administers a promised beating to Lightfoot. The protagonists, stripped of everything, are left where they started -- with nothing. It is clear from Lightfoot's body language that he has some neurological damage, but nonetheless the buddies go on. Coming full circle, they end up back in Warsaw, MT, where they find the money from the first robbery. You keep rooting for Lightfoot to make it, but the damage has been done. Bridges does a fantastic job showing us the symptoms and underplays it to great effect. Clint shows up in the brand new gigantic Cadillac convertible, and it is clear the end is coming. After Lightfoot expires, we watch Clint drive down the long lonely road, a warrior alone at last.

Definitely a buddy film; no female roles with any depth at all. Nonetheless a great flick - highly recommend it.
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10/10
One of Clint Eastwood's Best Contemporary Crime Chronicles!!!
zardoz-1330 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Before he ascended to the zenith of his career with the Oscar-winning Best Picture "The Deer Hunter" (1978) and then plummeted to his nadir with the costly western "Heaven's Gate" (1980) that bankrupted United Artists and forced them to merge with MGM, writer & director Michael Cimino got his start with Clint Eastwood. Initially, Cimino contributed the Russian roulette sequences to the "Dirty Harry" sequel "Magnum Force." Incidentally, Cimino's first credit as a scenarist occurred earlier on director Douglas Trumbull's sci-fi epic "Silent Running," with Bruce Dern. Anyway, Cimino made his directorial debut with "Thunderbolt & Lightfoot." This exciting, tour-de-force Clint Eastwood & Jeff Bridges thriller ranks as one of the top ten perfect crimes heist movies of the 1970s. Cimino's film chronicles the friendship between an older man, a Korean War veteran on-the-lam, and a hopelessly footloose but fast-talking twentysomething who cherishes grand theft auto, easy women, and clichés.

Ultimately, Joe Doherty, aka 'Thunderbolt' (Clint Eastwood) and Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges) team up reluctantly with Eastwood's old partners-in-crime, Red Leary (George Kennedy of "Cool Hand Luke") and Goody (Geoffrey Lewis of "High Plains Drifter") to rob an armored car company. They wind up wielding a 20MM cannon to blow gigantic holes in the wall of the safe. The first third of the action introduces us to the rogue's gallery of thieves, and the second third details their elaborate plans as they accumulate the necessary tool to pull it off this complicated heist. The third focuses on the frenzied getaway, dissolution of the gang and the final showdown with Red. Not only is "Thunderbolt & Lightfoot" a memorable crime caper with quotable dialogue, but also it is a top-notch drama with interesting characters, including Geoffrey Lewis as a bumbling fool and George Kennedy as a sadistic killer. Jeff Bridges received as Oscar nomination for his sympathetic but ill-fated bad guy. The scenes with Bridges dressing up like a girl to lure a tubby security guard in the alarm systems board are hilarious.

The action opens with scenic long shots of wheat fields to the lovely strains of Dee Barton's music and we find ourselves near wooden church with a majestic steeple as an old black car wheels up to it. A burly guy in a dark suit and white hat, Dunlop (seasoned heavy Roy Jenson) gets out to stretch his legs as he listens to the choir warble a standard hymn. Cimino switches to another setting as the eponymous young drifter, Lightfoot, limps onto a used car dealership, and admires a Firebird. The owner, brilliantly played in a bit part by Gregory Walcott) invites him to climb behind the wind and kick the engine over. "She's cleaner than a cat's ass," the dealer brags and then wonders if a youth like Lightfoot can handle her. Lightfoot tells him that he has a wooden leg. While the dealer ponders this sudden shift in conversation, Lightfoot steals the car and tears away across country.

Back at the church, we discover that Clint Eastwood is posing as an Episcopal minister in black suit with a white collar. Just as John 'Thunderbolt' Doherty utters some Biblical homilies about the lion lying down with the lamb, Dunlop bursts into the sanctuary with a Mauser machine pistol and triggers a barrage of shots that sends everybody scrambling for the doors, including Doherty. Our hero charges across the wheat field with a wheezing Dunlop in close pursuit, pausing occasionally to fire at his fleet-footed quarry. Doherty flags down a sports car, Lightfoot in the Firebird, and Lightfoot swerves, plunges into the wheat field, smashes into Dunlop, and kills him. Reversing, Lightfoot races back out of the field. As Lightfoot races past Doherty, Doherty slings himself onto the automobile, climbs through the passenger's window, dislocating his shoulder, and settles in alongside Lightfoot. Presto, their friendship begins. Along the way, they swap cars with a family and Doherty decides to go his separate way at a bus depot.

Doherty leaves Lightfoot at a bus station. While he is sauntering through the depot, Doherty spots is old crime partner, vindictive Red Leary, and rejoins Lightfoot before he pulls out of town. The guys head off to a motel, and Lightfoot changes vehicle license tags. Along the way, he picks up two cuties, Melody (Catherine Bach) and Gloria (June Fairchild of "Detroit 9000"), and takes them back to the motel. Doherty, we learn, has a bad leg. Gloria inquires about all his scars and he explains that he received them in Korea. When Doherty refuses to take Gloria home at 3 AM, she runs out in her underwear and screams "rape!" Doherty gives her cab fare.

Eventually, Red and Goody catch up with our heroes. Initially, Red tries to ambush in a roadside diner parking lot. Lightfoot leads Red on a careening chase through the mountains with Red blasting away with his carbine but missing. Later, Red and Goody get the drop on them and try to kill them. Doherty disarms Red but refuses to kill him. Instead, he explains he didn't take the loot from the previous hold-up. They stashed it in a one-room school house. When they returned to get it, the school house had vanished. Lightfoot's suggests that they rob the same armored car company. Red hates Lightfoot from the get-go, but he cooperates reluctantly as they set up the crime. They take jobs. Goody drives an ice cream wagon. Red is a janitor at a local department store. Doherty goes to work as a wielder. Lightfoot works as a landscaping technician.

Cimino provides recurring comic relief scenes to lighten things up and a number of character actors, such as Gregory Walcott of "Plan 9 From Outer Space," "Gunsmoke" veteran Dub Taylor as a gas station owner, Vic Tayback of "Alice," and "Deliverance" redneck Bill McKinney as a psychotic who cruises around in a souped up car with white rabbits galore in his trunk, appear at intervals.
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8/10
Good Entertainment
gottogorunning13 August 2005
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is a huge highlight in the list of 70's buddy movies. In fact, it's a huge highlight on any list as this movie is sure to delight, entertain and amuse anyone that comes into contact with it. While the movie doesn't offer any depth, nor does it probe into the human condition or anything like that, it just simply WORKS. This is the sort of film that you can just put on and enjoy yourself while the movie plays out. It's the sort of film that you just simply can't dislike, and why would you want to? Thunderbolt and Lightfoot plays it's crowd-pleasing elements - things such as comedy, action and strong performances from good leading men, as far as they can go and this is what makes the film a winner. The film lacks a clear structure, and at times it is apparent that it doesn't really know what to do with itself - but it simply doesn't matter. The film could show Eastwood and Bridges playing cards, or watching paint dry even, and you still get the impression that it would entertain you. And this is testament to the great characters and crowd pleasing elements that this film gives it's audience.

Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges really couldn't be much more different if they tried. Eastwood is the loner; an understated man who has made his name in westerns and gritty crime dramas, while Bridges is always the charisma and the man that takes a film and steals it with his likable persona; but in spite of their differences, the two combine here to great effect. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is both a buddy movie and a character driven crime caper, and it plays both of these sides of it's personality to great effect. The buddy side of the film works thanks to the characters and the fabulous actors playing them, while the crime side of the film comes into it's own with the numerous action sequences, the well thought out caper and, again, the characters; as the buddy element of the film ensures that we always care for their plight. While Thunderbolt and Lightfoot hasn't, and wont, go down in history as one of the greatest films ever made; it's a very nice one, and if you want a stellar piece of entertainment starring two top quality lead men; you could do a lot worse than this.
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8/10
Not your typical Clint Eastwood film
Woodyanders8 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Clint Eastwood takes a radical departure from his usual action-oriented fare with this utterly disarming character-driven delight in which Eastwood portrays laid-back former thief Thunderbolt with his trademark low-key self -assurance, but basically lets Jeff Bridges reign supreme with his wonderfully cocky and dynamic turn as brash drifter Lightfoot, who convinces Thunderbolt to join forces with several old cohorts for one last big daring bank heist.

Writer/director Michael Cimino not only derives a lot of charm and warmth from the friendship between Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, but also makes excellent use of the wide open prairie locations, offers a wealth of quirky moments and colorful oddball folks, stages the exciting last reel action with rip-roaring gusto, and astutely captures the despair, loneliness, and restlessness lurking right underneath the deceptively cheerful surface of heartland America.

Eastwood and Bridges display a natural and relaxed chemistry in the lead roles. George Kennedy likewise excels as the volatile Red Leary while Geoffrey Lewis is typically sturdy as the bumbling Eddie Goody. Moreover, there are sharp cameos from Catherine Bach as the sassy Melody, Gary Busey as amiable good ol' boy Curly, Bill McKinney as a crazy motorist who gives Thunderbolt and Lightfoot a lift, Dub Taylor as a crusty gas station attendant, and Gregory Walcott as a smarmy used car salesman. Frank Stanley's breathtaking widescreen cinematography provides plenty of striking visuals. The surprise tragic ending packs a devastating punch. An offbeat and enjoyable treat.
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3/10
Incomprehensible Mess
Mr Blue-410 February 2011
I was in grade school when this came out, and I remembered it as a crime/caper film. It later became known as Michael Cimino's directorial debut. Of course, his next film would be "The Deer Hunter" (one that I am not a fan of). Watching this movie in 2011, it's clear why his career floundered after "The Deer Hunter." Here is a movie with no sense of story or even character. We move from scene to scene and the film's ongoing motivation seems to be to stage something that looks "neat".

"Thunderbolt" never recovers from its opening sequence. Clint Eastwood is seen as the preacher of a small Idaho church. Jeff Bridges, at the same time, is a leather pants-wearing huckster that makes off with a used car. The character we later learn to be Dunlap enters Eastwood's church and shoots at him in the middle of a sermon. Clint runs off into the field behind the church and is picked up by Bridges in the stolen used car, who runs over Dunlap for good measure. And just like that, Bridges and Eastwood are a team.

This may be good enough for some people, who are quick to label the merely absurd as "poetic", but try another adjective: nonsense. From the get-go "Thunderbolt" lets us know that it really has no interest in being coherent or grounded in some kind of reality where people behave with any reason. Let's just make a movie where "neat" stuff happens, irregardless of what's happened 10 minutes before or after.

Case in point- later on, Clint and Jeff are hitchhiking. They are picked up by a guy who appears to be drunk and has a raccoon in his front seat. As soon as they are in the car he proceeds to drive all over the road until they nearly crash. Upon getting out of the car, and decking the driver, the duo finds the trunk of the car full of rabbits. The whole sequence stands apart from the movie, adding neither humor or insight. But I guess it seemed "cool" to Cimino and company.

BTW, save the "70s filmmaking sensibility" arguments. As if every complaint about incoherent storytelling (which this is) is coming from someone too programmed by super-obvious narratives like old TV shows to "appreciate" something that is "diffent". Er, try again. I'm not expecting "Hawaii Five O", and there are plenty of 70s films that hold up by simply adhering to basic conventions of movie-making while still being "different" (i.e. "The Last Detail").

Kudos to the photography, which is also aided by stunning locations (perhaps inspiring Cimino to return to the area for "Heaven's Gate" later). However, while this is certainly a "guy's film", did it have to be so incredibly sexist? If a woman appears in the film and she's under 25, she's probably in the shortest skirt possible, and/or flaunting cleavage. Not that some women don't dress this way some of the time, but all of them? And it's hard to imagine a more gratuitous nude shot than the one of the suburban wife who merely stands completely naked in her window for Bridges to see. Other than solidify the R rating and give a few guys in pre-cable/video 1974 a thrill, what's the point of that?
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8/10
did someone re-edit the ending of this movie at some point?
davetex17 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Warning, May contain a spoiler.

I love this movie, it's great for a bunch of reasons. There is the talent involved, Eastwood in his prime, Jeff Bridges laying out the kind of persona he would riff on for the next thirty years, George Kennedy in full blown red neck psycho mode, and Michael Cimino working on the friendship/futility of life themes that would then be refined in the masterpiece that is Deer Hunter. It's also a nice period piece showing life in Montana in the 70s including assorted muscle cars.

My irritation is that I watched an old VHS copy last night and was troubled by the ending. This was probably the fourth or fifth time I watched it, and I was sure that at the end, Clint disposes of Lightfoot's body by tossing it off a bridge and then driving off. Yet when I watched this copy, that scene was not there. Bridges dies and Clint drives away with him in the car and then you see Clint driving alone and then the credits.

Maybe it was another movie, but I was sure that scene is in there. And it bugs me because I think it belongs there, the equivalent of a funeral...

Anyway, a nice little movie that just matures with age and gets finer even it it was hacked for some stupid reason. Maybe the anti-litter lobby complained about the reckless dumping....
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8/10
Road movie, buddy movie, heist movie - a lot of fun.
one-nine-eighty25 July 2018
Part road trip movie, part Heist movie "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" brings together Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. The film could be rolled out in two distinct chapters because the first part is getting to know the characters, while the second part is the juicy stuff.

An accidental meeting brings together a preacher with a young careless tearaway, Eastwood is Thunderbolt and Bridges is Lightfoot. With the help of his new friend and potential sidekick, Thunderbolt - a bank robber in hiding, decides to come back out of his 7 year retirement for one last score. His biggest regret is the last job he was part of, some of the gang got locked away and some have passed away. After doing the last job the money was hidden and since remains unclaimed, which is an even bitterer pill for Thunderbolt as it means it came to nothing. It's suggested that the last thing the authorities will expect, is the same job, at the same location, using the same methods - so plans are made to do just that. Geoffrey Lewis (Goody) and George Kennedy (Red) join Thunderbolt and Lightfoot to set the record straight and do the job that didn't get finished off properly last time.

This Michael Camino debut film is great fun and stinks of the 70's, both from a content and narrative point of view. There is plenty of character development and the plot is enough to keep you going right to the end with plenty of twists and turns as well as thrills and spills. It's tragically romantic, funny, tense and filled with good times for all - albeit with a little bit of harmless 70's sexism in it too. From the start it looks like Lightfoot's rebellious nature is due to a lack of father figure, or a brother in arms, which he finds in Thunderbolt - thus adding to the romanticism. Clint Eastwood is cool but distant, much like some of the other characters he's played before - a standard performance. Jeff Bridges on the other hand, is youthful, rebellious and full of spunk - his energy carried and drove the film. There are some random and pointless situations in the movie which don't get answered, and at times it looks like Camino just wants things that look cool rather than that are part of the story. Take for example how Goode and Red manage to keep finding Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, despite them having changed cars and locations. Another example is the drunk redneck that picks them up - why does he have a racoon, why does he have rabbits - wtf is it all about? If you ignore all the random oddities then the film is good, complimented by a lovely soundtrack which fits the beautiful scenery on display. I guess this is a classic Americana film - brotherly love, open roads, middle-finger up to the law, beer, women, and cars.

You won't be disappointed if you stumble across this one weekend and I'd recommend it to film fan new and old, whether you are looking for a heist movie, a road-trip movie or just a buddy movie. 8 out of 10.
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7/10
Proto-bromance in big sky country
shakercoola2 June 2018
Michael Cimino's screenplay and debut as a director is a back-road road movie and heist caper underpinned by a light-hearted relationship of bonding and joshing between two men. Eastwood and Bridges have a good onscreen chemistry and the film in the first act is light of foot as they evade two other criminals giving chase. The tone turns darker through the plot when an eleborate bank robbery plan is hatched which brings a brutal George Kennedy into the fray. Although the build up is dynamic it is arguably too long. The dialogue is amusingly vulgar at times. Bridges' fun-loving grifter pitched against the more world-wise criminality of Eastwood and an unforgiving Kennedy makes for good contrast, but it is tragic in the end.
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9/10
In for a penny, in for a pound.
Hey_Sweden18 January 2015
An excellent character based comedy / drama, "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" is a well above average 1970s vehicle for established star Clint Eastwood. Clint plays the role of "Thunderbolt", a bank robber laying low (masquerading as a preacher!) when an old associate shows up, ready to do him in. Saving Thunderbolts' life is amiable, carefree youngster "Lightfoot", played with charm and likability by Jeff Bridges. They become quick friends. Soon, they'll find that they won't be able to escape Thunderbolts' old partners in crime, Red Leary (George Kennedy) and Eddie Goody (Geoffrey Lewis). Lightfoot gets the bright idea that they should mastermind the second robbery of a bank that the others had previously hit.

As could be expected with any good caper film, it's fun to see the participants discuss all the obstacles in their way, and all of the preparations that they will have to make. This material is immensely enjoyable, but it's the characters and performances that really make an impact. Clint does a typically solid, engaging job, with very fine support from the foaming-mad Kennedy and the always reliable Lewis. There's quite a few other familiar faces in the cast, too: Catherine Bach, Gary Busey, Jack Dodson, Burton Gilliam, Roy Jenson, Bill McKinney, Vic Tayback, Dub Taylor, Gregory Walcott, and Cliff Emmich. But make no mistake, this is Bridges' film. Whether he's taunting Red in an interesting way, or being made to dress in drag as part of the robbery scheme, he steals the show.

Michael Cimino, the filmmaker who later scored big with "The Deer Hunter", and earned himself infamy with the notorious spectacle "Heaven's Gate", made his directing debut here. He'd previously co-written the "Dirty Harry" sequel "Magnum Force", and Clint had lots of confidence in the up and coming talent. Cimino gives his film great pace, and, in collaboration with cinematographer Frank Stanley, gives "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" some impressive widescreen compositions.

Endearing entertainment all the way, further enhanced by Paul Williams's touching song "Where Does a Fool Go".

Nine out of 10.
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