6.7/10
2,732
68 user 22 critic

Thunder Road (1958)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 10 May 1958 (USA)
A veteran comes home from the Korean War to the mountains and takes over the family moonshining business. He has to battle big-city gangsters who are trying to take over the business and the police who are trying to put him in prison.

Director:

Arthur Ripley

Writers:

James Atlee Phillips (screenplay), Walter Wise (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Mitchum ... Lucas Doolin
Gene Barry ... Troy Barrett
Jacques Aubuchon ... Carl Kogan
Keely Smith ... Francie Wymore
Trevor Bardette ... Vernon Doolin
Sandra Knight ... Roxanna Ledbetter
James Mitchum ... Robin Doolin
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Storyline

A veteran comes home from the Korean War to the mountains and takes over the family moonshining business. He has to battle big-city gangsters who are trying to take over the business and the police who are trying to put him in prison.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

More Savage Than The Tommy-Gun Massacre of the Roaring Twenties...TODAY'S BILLION-DOLLAR WHISKEY WAR! (original poster) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 May 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jack O'Diamonds See more »

Filming Locations:

Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

D.R.M. Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Of the major stars of this movie only two are still alive. They James Mitchum son of Robert and Sandra Knight. See more »

Goofs

During the opening chase between Doolin and the Treasury agents, the agents are driving a 1957 Chevrolet with a grill mounted emergency light. However, in one scene of the chase, the car changes to a 1957 Ford without the emergency light. (This Ford was part of another chase later in the movie.) The Chevrolet then reappears for the rest of the chase. See more »

Quotes

Vernon Doolin: [referring to Niles Penlands being ambushed] So it begins. Saw a corpse bird the other day, hadn't seen one in years, shoulda known it was an ill omen.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Species (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

The Whippoorwill
Composed by Robert Mitchum and Don Raye
Sung by Keely Smith
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Spectacular cult classic of the Moonshine Wars of the 40s, 50s

It's hard to describe the visceral jolt this film gives to anyone brought up in the South or to anyone who appreciates hot rods.

Unfortunately, my dad died shortly before this film came out or it would have been his favorite film. Raised in a poor sharecropper's family in Clay County, Kentucky, during the Depression, he and his brothers drove souped-up "tankers" running moon throughout Ky, Tenn and Virginia before and after they served in combat in WW2 and Korea. From their description of those rowdy days, THUNDER ROAD is as brutally accurate as can be. Not only were the dreaded T-Men a major hazard, with their brutal tactics, but the various families that cooked the "moon" and distributed it often had blood feuds that were resurrected or exacerbated by their competition for the illegal whisky business. The longest running feud in US history, the century-long White-Baker Feud (also called the Clay County Wars) was resurrected due to the two clans' competition in tanking the moon throughout Appalachia.

Inherently a sad but realistic work, Mitchum's excellent performance and an honest, understated script give us a snapshot of an American way of life that few outside of the rural South could ever comprehend. The culture of individualism and freedom from Federal oppression is much less today, but still exists. I believe the reason this film is such a huge cult film in the South is that it reminds us that not too long ago many of our ancestors were still willing to take on the tyrant face to face. We are, alas, just a pale copy of those who went before.

Truly one of the most under-appreciated films of the 50s, due in no small part to the overwhelmingly Yankee composition of the critics' circles. They couldn't possibly understand the film. It's a Southern thing.


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