6.7/10
3,031
70 user 26 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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Photos

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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
Betsy Holt Betsy Holt ... Mary Barrett
Francis Koon Francis Koon ... Sarah Doolin
Randy Sparks Randy Sparks ... Guitarist
Mitchell Ryan ... Jed Moultrie
Peter Breck ... Stacey Gouge
Peter Hornsby Peter Hornsby ... Lucky - Kogan's Henchman
Jerry Hardin ... Niles Penland
Robert Porterfield Robert Porterfield ... Preacher
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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:

Raw And Rough As Today's Billion-Dollar Whiskey War! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Peter Breck. See more »

Goofs

In the final chase, Lucas flicks a cigarette in the face of his pursuer when he comes alongside. This means his window was down. Yet, just before we see the smoke from the cigarette gently drifting in the cabin of the car. That could only happen with the windows up, or down but with the cars stationary on a sound stage. See more »

Quotes

Lucas Doolin: [to a noisy customer, about the nightclub's singer] She's trying to make a living. If you want to bray, go find yourself a barnyard.
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Connections

Featured in Robert Mitchum, le mauvais garçon d'Hollywood (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Ballad of Thunder Road
(uncredited)
(Theme song)
Composed by Robert Mitchum and Don Raye
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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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Frequently Asked Questions

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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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