Thunderbolt (1929)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.9/10 from 252 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 6 critic

A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Morgan, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl, ... See full summary »


(story), (story), 3 more credits »
0Check in
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Film told in flashbacks of an older man's obsession for a woman who can belong to no-one but can frustrate everyone. The backdrop is SternbergÍs surreal and fantastic Carnaval in Spain. In ... See full summary »

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Lionel Atwill, Edward Everett Horton
Dishonored (1931)
Drama | Music | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The Austrian Secret Service sends its most seductive agent to spy on the Russians.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Gustav von Seyffertitz
Applause (1929)
Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A burlesque star seeks to keep her convent-raised daughter away from her low-down life and abusive lover/stage manager.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Helen Morgan, Joan Peers, Fuller Mellish Jr.
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The queen of mythical Sylvania marries a courtier, who finds his new life unsatisfying.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Lupino Lane
Certificate: Passed Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Harriet and Queenie Mahoney, a vaudeville act, come to Broadway, where their friend Eddie Kerns needs them for his number in one of Francis Zanfield's shows. Eddie was in love with Harriet,... See full summary »

Director: Harry Beaumont
Stars: Bessie Love, Anita Page, Charles King
Underworld (1927)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Boisterous gangster kingpin Bull Weed rehabilitates his former lawyer from his alcoholic haze, but complications arise when he falls for Weed's girlfriend.

Directors: Josef von Sternberg, Arthur Rosson
Stars: George Bancroft, Clive Brook, Evelyn Brent
Alibi (1929)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Chick Williams, a prohibition gangster, rejoins his mob soon after being released from prison. When a policeman is murdered during a robbery, he falls under suspicion. The gangster took ... See full summary »

Director: Roland West
Stars: Chester Morris, Harry Stubbs, Mae Busch
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

There is a big charity function at the house of Mrs. Cheyney and a lot of society is present. With her rich husband, deceased, rich old Lord Elton and playboy Lord Arthur Dilling are both ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Basil Rathbone, George Barraud
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A scientist becomes murderous after discovering, and being exposed to the radiation of, a powerful new element called Radium X.

Director: Lambert Hillyer
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Frances Drake
Madame X (1929)
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A young lawyer unknowingly defends his mother who abandoned him when he was three.

Director: Lionel Barrymore
Stars: Lewis Stone, Ruth Chatterton, Raymond Hackett
Judge Priest (1934)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Judge Priest, a proud Confederate veteran, uses common sense and considerable humanity to dispense justice in a small town in the Post-Bellum Kentucky.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Will Rogers, Tom Brown, Anita Louise
Romance | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A poor factory worker, employed by a wealthy uncle, falls in love with a beautiful heiress but his happiness and promising future are jeopardized by a previous affair with a coworker he impregnated.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Phillips Holmes, Sylvia Sidney, Frances Dee


Complete credited cast:
Eugenie Besserer ...
Mrs. Morgan
James Spottswood ...
'Snapper' O'Shea
Fred Kohler ...
'Bad Al' Friedberg
Robert Elliott ...
Prison chaplain
E.H. Calvert ...
Dist. Atty. McKay
Mr. Corwin
Mike Donlin ...
Kentucky Sampson
S.S. Stewart ...
William L. Thorne ...
Police inspector


A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Morgan, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl, without knowing of their relationship. Thunderbolt hopes to stave off the execution long enough to kill young Morgan for romancing his girl. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The dynamic star of the screen


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 June 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Debandada  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)| (one version)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of the earliest of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by MCA ever since. See more »


Thinkin' About My Baby
Written by Sam Coslow
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

THUNDERBOLT (Josef von Sternberg, 1929) ***
6 March 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Sternberg's first Talkie is virtually a retread of his UNDERWORLD (1927), with the same leading man – George Bancroft – no less. However, while ably flanked by his co-stars there, he is practically the whole show this time around (Fay Wray and Richard Arlen being no match for Evelyn Brent and Clive Brook) and, consequently, the role earned Bancroft his sole Oscar nomination (and the film's as well)! Anyway, the director's approach to Sound was not as experimental as may have been anticipated (resorting to Death Row histrionics and even a number of songs to showcase the format!) and the end result is hardly dazzling in this regard – though the dialogue is surprisingly clean, i.e. audible, for such an early example. Conversely, the visual aspect of the film, usually the director's main concern, is greatly diluted here through the poor quality of the copy I watched which also sported forced German subtitles!

Bancroft is once again a gangster (as before, his activity remains undisclosed throughout, apart from lording it up in an almost exclusively-black nightclub!) and his moll eventually leaves him for another, younger and handsomer, man. Here, too, the mobster is caught and imprisoned – in a wonderful scene where he shows compassion for a mutt, subsequently proving inseparable, thus preceding Raoul Walsh's HIGH SIERRA by 12 years! Yet, he ingeniously has his associates frame the rival for a murder they committed (the development of this particular plot strand is unfortunately rather muddled) and the hero winds up in the cell opposite Bancroft's. As in UNDERWORLD, Fred Kohler also appears here to antagonize the latter – besides lanky warden Tully Marshall and an Irish guard whose name the protagonist continually tries to guess (with the droll pay-off coming at the film's very conclusion).

Wray and her mother plead with the gangster to do the right thing and clear Arlen of his crime but, of course, he will have none of that at the start. Again, however, Bancroft is softened and confesses his role in the young man's entrapment just hours before his execution is due; I have to wonder here why he, a first-time felon, is scheduled to die before the much sought-after "Thunderbolt"! – yes, the film's title is a reference to the character's nick-name. In any case, the moll's own admission that she had left her lover for the gangster rather than the other way around makes the latter realize, as was the case in UNDERWORLD, that he is in the way and gladly accepts his fate. Incidentally, speaking of references to the director's earlier work, Wray and Arlen are made to undergo a hasty marriage here – much like Bancroft himself and Betty Compson in THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1928)!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Thunderbolt (1929) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: