Thunder Road (1958) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • 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.


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  • Lucas Doolin evades arrest by agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Treasury Department, led by Troy Barrett. Upon returning to his home in a country valley, a local liquor transporter is killed in an ambush. His father suspects that the ambush was set up by Kogan, an outside racketeer trying to muscle in. Luke resists Kogan's pressure. and his father recommends that the locals contract out and change their routes to protect themselves. His brother wants to accompany him but Luke will not allow him in the business. Luke is ambushed by Kogan's men on a delivery but he escapes. Luke makes the delivery, and then resists pleas from his girl friend Francie to settle down with him and further attempts but Kogan to horn in. Luke assaults Kogan when the latter threatens him and is detained by Barrett. Barrett releases him on the theory that Luke will lead him to Kogan. Kogan orders another attempt on Luke after noting his quick release from custody. Unknown to Kogan, Luke has sold his car to another moonshine and he and a federal agent are killed by a car bomb. Luke feels guilt over the moonshine's death but will not stop the deliveries, despite many locals getting out of the business due to increased pressure from the government and Kogan. Luke is ambushed again by Kogan, escapes, and is warned again by his brother of Kogan. After being rebuffed again, his brother makes a delivery for another moonshine working for Kogan. Luke stops the delivery in time then threatens to kill Kogan. Luke's family then seeks out Barrett to find Luke before carrying out the threat. Barrett arrests Kogan for involvement in murder, then tries to intercept Luke. Luke's car runs through their roadblock, goes out of control and spectacularly crashes, killing him. Luke's family then awaits the return of Luke's body.

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