Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

In the early seventies before sailing the Mystic River with a Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood was cutting his teeth in directing and made a bold move. After co-writing Magnum Force, the sequel to Dirty Harry with John Milius, Michael Cimino had given Clint an original script. His one stipulation with Eastwood was that he, not Clint, would direct the film himself. Clint agreed, starred, and gave a boost to a director that would make history on both sides of the fence of film later on. In a debut that included some Clint regulars and a brash young actor on a hot streak, Cimino tells the story of a young man looking to bring in an older master to do some dirty work and in the process learn a little more about themselves along the way. This is a most unusual but intriguing team. They are two men and they call themselves Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.

It’s a sunny day and a preacher is speaking a calm sermon to a humble crowd. At the same time a brash young man is looking at a beautiful car ready for some action. The preacher gets a big surprise when a visitor shoots at him and chases him before the young man gets mixed up in the process with the car. The young man introduces himself as “Lightfoot” (Jeff Bridges) and talks the “collared man” (Clint Eastwood) into teaming up with him for some scores. Little does Lightfoot realize that he’s gotten himself in the middle of some old business that stretches far beyond his younger years and old habits certainly die hard.

There is a unique vision abrew here and what looks like a typical action fare turns out to be a little more literal than any audience bargains for. Granted, there are times when things slow down a bit more and the story shows a little draggage, but despite that there is a solid script that gives both Bridges and Eastwood solid work to play off each other. Clint shows that he still can be a tough guy but in this case he can have moments of reserve that weren’t evident in his later films.

Jeff Bridges earned a deserved Supporting Actor nomination as Lightfoot, a man always ready for anything for money, goods, and women without worrying how he got it and how he’d like to bring a seasoned pro in for a piece of the action. Look out for the original Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach, in a small role as a woman that Lightfoot picks up in between their business and you can’t go wrong in a seventies film with a little touch of Paul Williams as one of his songs makes it’s way into the film.

The film does go in some unexpected directions that can either turn off the viewer or intrigue them further and in this viewers case, it certainly falls in the latter as the early vision of Cimino is interesting, and unusual at times but in a majority case seems to be a good amount of fun along with a surprisingly touching side and the audience wants to see where these two go and what business they will go through next old or new. The team can have a few things up their sleeves but Thunderbolt and Lightfoot entertains and thrills in the most unique way in a solid feature debut for Michael Cimino.

Video: How does it look?

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is given the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment, the majority aspect ratio of Cimino and he uses it well throughout the film. However on this DVD the condition of the print is decent and beautiful most of the time but there are times of constant graininess and a speckle every once in a while that for most of the way is few and far between but comes across mostly in the darker scenes. The daytime scenes don’t suffer too much but it does have a bit of that seventies haze that is evident amongst movies around that time. It keeps a balance but the end result is average.

Audio: How does it sound?

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’s sound track is a digital mono track and it begs for a remastering as at times the volume can go from extreme loudness to extreme lowness. The dialogue comes out clear but the volume might need a slight kick up. A mono track is naturally gives a muted feel and mostly doesn’t spread out amongst the other channels with the majority stuck in the middle and the track remains easy to understand but even on a mono track, it could’ve been so much more. This disc also has a Spanish Mono track along with (strangely) French and Spanish subtitles. (No speaka de English Captionie?)

Supplements: What are the extras?

The only notable extra is the films theatrical trailer with has kicking background music and the original UA/Trans logo at the end but the condition could be better.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot make a good team as works well as a film but in terms of a DVD visually it’s nice but it sounds like it needs improvement.

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