Major Charles Rane comes back from the war and is given a number of gifts from his hometown because he is a war hero. Some greedy thugs decide that they want to steal a number of silver ... See full summary »
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Major Charles Rane comes back from the war and is given a number of gifts from his hometown because he is a war hero. Some greedy thugs decide that they want to steal a number of silver dollars from him. In the process they also manage to kill his wife and son and destroy his hand. The Major wants revenge so he enlists the help of his war buddy Johnny to meet the thugs in a final showdown. Written by
Josh Pasnak <email@example.com>
Paul Schrader's very best screenplay--and yes, I include the one about the guy who drives a cab--is this 1977 masterpiece, which wins my vote for most underrated movie of the seventies. (That's a long list, too.) Major Charles Rane (William Devane) is one of Gogol's dead souls. When he comes home after seven years of bone-crunching torture in the Hanoi Hilton, the missus has taken up with the guy next door. After a band of outlaws descend on the Rane manor to steal the Major's one precious possession, tragedy descends on Major Rane a second time, stealing whatever shred of humanness was in him, and sending him on a one-way destination: vengeance at any cost.
ROLLING THUNDER is the pulpiest, the sharpest, and the most humanly rich of all Schrader's "God's lonely man" sagas. The scenes between the Major and his new lover (Linda Haynes, magnificent) are a case study in the meeting point between the broken and the empty. Their scenes--in which the Major almost never utters a word--are a better approximation of the high points of Raymond Carver than Robert Altman's scrambled version. The director John Flynn--who also directed the tip-top THE OUTFIT with Robert Duvall as a Major Ranish hoodlum--never makes one false step. The guts of the finale--a Schraderish reprise of the last act of THE WILD BUNCH--seems amazing even for 1977.
ROLLING THUNDER is out of print and hard to find. Seek it at any and all costs. If seventies cinema were to be defined in a nutshell, this movie is it.
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