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Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
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Reviews & Ratings for
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot More at IMDbPro »

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49 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

A fascinating character-based comedy drama masquerading as a buddy action movie.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
12 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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38 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

"Where do I go from here?"

Author: LewisJForce (gunghomonro@yahoo.com) from Wolverhampton, England
12 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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38 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Beyond buddies.

Author: Paul D'Agnillo from Windsor Ontario Canada
9 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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30 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Cimino first triumphant debut…

8/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
7 September 2005

*** This review may contain 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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34 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

A male Thelma And Louise!

7/10
Author: jessewillis from Canada
16 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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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

"Stick with me kid and you'll live forever!"

8/10
Author: TrevorAclea from London, England
9 June 2008

How times change. Back in 1974, after paying his dues co-writing Silent Running and Magnum Force, Michael Cimino was one of the most promising new directors on the scene thanks to his directorial debut Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. In 1978 he was an Oscar winner whose place in movie history seemed assured by The Deer Hunter. Two years later he was the poster boy for directorial excess and hubris in the wake of the unjustly maligned Heaven's Gate. Now he's unemployable.

Thunderbolt's once-sterling reputation seems to have fallen victim alongside Cimino's career. It's become one of the less-remembered films from the days when Clint Eastwood ruled the box-office yet it holds up as one of the best pictures of its over-rated decade, managing the neat trick of both delivering what the audience wants and subverting their expectations at the same time. Eastwood plays a crook on the run from ex-partners in crime George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis (often hysterically funny here) who teams up with Jeff Bridges' extrovert drifter to retrieve the loot from a previous robbery only to find his old accomplices tagging along and things – naturally – not going at all to plan. It's an almost perfectly judged mixture of comedy and action with both feet firmly on the ground despite the more absurd moments in a way that would be almost unthinkable today. There's a real rapport between the outstanding cast and an affection for the characters that adds to the impact of the very Seventies ending – not only is the central pairing of Eastwood's old hand and Bridges' cocksure kid far more convincing and genuinely affecting than it has any right to be, but Kennedy and Lewis' untrustworthy partners in crime are beautifully drawn too.

Cimino handles the mood swings adeptly and even injects a subtle undercurrent of sexual ambiguity that never gets in the way of the entertainment. While his direction is bang on target - there's a great use of mid-Western landscape too - it's the strength of his script that keeps the film surprisingly fresh today. It's basically a road movie crossed with a heist movie, but Cimino throws in so many unexpected and quirky left turns that catch you off guard that you never get the feeling that you're going over the same old ground. This was a terrific movie in 1974, and if anything it's an even better one today. Just remember; never accept a lift from a man with a raccoon in the passenger seat and a trunk full of bunnies! Sadly the DVD transfer isn't great, but it is in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio.

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19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Eastwood & Bridges & Lewis & Cimino = sheer delight !

10/10
Author: wmjahn from Austria
31 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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24 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

"Stop you FREAK - I love you"

10/10
Author: Paul Browne from Oldham, England.
8 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 nave 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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18 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Old Movie that still kicks

7/10
Author: mm-39 from Winnipeg
11 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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19 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Great roadmovie,love it!

10/10
Author: steffan-3 (steffan@hellem.com) from Trondheim, Norwy
16 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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